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Archive for : Gender & Sexuality

Women’s History Month Events – 2013

March is halfway over! Have you celebrated Women’s History Month yet? If not, don’t fret – there are still tons of interesting lectures, panels, film screenings and other events going on around the country to honor Women’s History Month (which is especially relevant this year, because 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the women’s suffrage march on Washington!). Check out the options below:

This month marks 100 years since the Woman Suffrage March in Washington, D.C.

  • Brooklyn, New York On March 20, the Brooklyn Museum will host a panel (moderated by Gloria Steinem!) called Gender and Genocide: Sexual Violence During the Holocaust and Other Genocides. The panel will feature co-editors of a book about the topic, among other speakers.
  • Brooklyn, New York On March 23, the Brooklyn Museum will host another fascinating panel discussion – this time on women, art and body image, and particularly the body mass index (BMI).
  • New York City On March 25, check out a screening of the film Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines at the Chelsea Recreation Center in Manhattan.
  • Rochester, New York The University of Rochester is screening Oma & Bella, a documentary by filmmaker Alexa Karolinski about her grandmother Regina and her best friend Bella, two Holocaust survivors who now live, reminisce, and cook together in Berlin. On March 25th, the school is also hosting a Women in Music concert that’s open to the public.
  • San Francisco On March 25th, Artists’ Television Access will host a screening of “Half the Sky,” an inspiring book based on the Nicholas Kristof book about global women’s issues.
  • San Francisco Did you know that the bicycle played a role in the suffrage movement? Celebrate women’s history month on two wheels, with a Women’s History Month bike ride coordinated by the SF Bike Coalition.
  • Washington DC On March 20, head to the United States Capitol Historical Society for a book signing. Author Maurine Beasley will be signing copies of her book, Women of the Washington Press: Politics, Prejudice, and Persistence.
  • Washington DC Celebrate women’s contributions to the world of jazz at the third-annual Washington Women in Jazz festival from March 20-27.

Know of other great women’s history month events in your community? Share the news in the comments below or by tweeting us @repairtheworld.

Honor World AIDS Day on Dec 1

Back in 1988 when The World Health Organization (WHO) first established World AIDS Day (which we’ll honor on Dec 1), the virus was still fairly new and largely misunderstood. Today, through medical advances and research, we know a lot more about how the virus works, how it is transmitted, and how people with HIV or AIDS can manage their health and lives.

And yet HIV and AIDS continue to be a global epidemic – particularly because there is still no cure. In the United States, more than 1 million people currently live with HIV, and someone is infected with HIV every 9.5 minutes. Globally the situation is even more dire: across the world more than 33 million people live with HIV and AIDS, and 97% of those people live in low and middle-income countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. And according to the WHO, most people who have HIV or at high-risk for it do not have access to prevention, care, or treatment.

Considering these stats it’s clear that, 24 years after it was founded, World AIDS Day remains vital. This year’s theme is “Working Together for an AIDS-Free Generation,” and true to the name, fighting AIDS globally will require many people working together across the world. Here are some ways you can honor the day and make a difference locally and globally:

  • Plan a World AIDS Day event: Check out these resources and tips for planning an AIDS awareness event in your neighborhood. Check out other events and updates on the official #WAD2012 Twitter feed.
  • AFAID: Donate to support the work of this organization, which “provides youth with the tools, knowledge and resources to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, and alleviates poverty” in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Firelight Foundation: Support this foundation’s work, which has a mission to “improve the wellbeing of children made vulnerable by HIV, AIDS and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.”
  • AIDS Quilt: Started in 1987, the ever-growing AIDS Quilt is now more than 48,000 panels big (that’s 8,000 blocks long!). Make a panel for the quilt, or host a section of it at your campus or in your community. Find out how here.
  • Project Chicken Soup: Volunteer with or donate to support this Los Angeles-based organization, which delivers free, nutritious, kosher meals to local residents living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses.
  • Housing Works: Donate to, volunteer with, (or shop at!) this New York City-based organization/thrift store, which works to “end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through relentless advocacy, the provision of lifesaving services, and entrepreneurial businesses that sustain our efforts.”
  • God’s Love We Deliver: Volunteer with or donate to this organization, which prepares and delivers nutritious, high-quality meals, and offers nutrition education and counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses.
  • AIDS Walk: Help to “change the course of the epidemic.” Sign up to walk and raise money for AIDS research in 2013.

For more information, check out this article that Rachel Farbiarz wrote for AJWS called “The Jewish Response to HIV/AIDS.” Then let us know how you’re observing World AIDS Day by tweeting us at @repairtheworld, or leaving a comment below.

Shabbat Service: Jacob’s Disguise and Claiming Rights for Uganda’s LGBTI Community

Shabbat Service is a weekly bit of Torah-inspired do-gooding, brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Read on to see how these ancient stories can apply today. Seem far fetched? Check it out:

The story: This week’s parsha (Torah portion), Toldot, includes a story filled with family strife, disguises, and deception. As this week’s dvar tzedek co-author, Lisa Exler writes, “At his mother Rebecca’s urging, Jacob covers his arms and neck with animal skin, disguising himself as his hairier brother Esau in order to fool their aging, blind father into giving Jacob the blessing of the first born.”

The “takeaway”: Exler writes that Jacob had the choice of whether or not to disguise his identity – and whether or not he made the right choice is up for debate. But “for many people around the world today, especially those who identify as LGBTI, disguising their true identities is not a choice, or a means to an end…but a necessity.” Sadly, when they reveal their true selves, like at the recent LGBTI Pride Parade in Uganda (the country’s first), they become more vulnerable to violence, discrimination, and oppression. The situation is dire: LGBTI people’s lives are literally at risk – just for being who they are. Most recently, a highly controversial anti-homosexuality bill was introduced in the Ugandan parliament. And yet for any change to happen, they and their allies must collectively stand up and stand out.

The “to-do”: Support the work of organizations in Uganda and abroad (like AJWS) that are working to create a safe, welcoming community for the country’s LGBTI citizens. And help put pressure on companies and governments around the world to lend their support.

Read the full Torah commentary, on which this excerpt is based, over at AJWS’ website. And for more great texts, commentary and Jewish learning resources on social justice, check out the On 1 Foot database.

Today is International Day of the Girl – Join in!

Today is the UN’s International Day of the Girl, an awesome day dedicated to speaking out against gender bias and advocating for girls’ rights everywhere. While the need for a day focused on girls’ rights might not be immediately obvious, across the globe there are many issues that girls still face including:

Illiteracy – It’s estimated that by 2015, women will make up 64% of the world’s adult population who cannot read.
Forced marraige – One in seven girls in the developing world is married off before age 15.
Violence – In America, 54% of all rapes of females happen before the age of 18.
Body image – More than half of 3rd-5th graders in America worry about their appearance and 37% worry about weight.

Across the globe, people are standing up against these issues and celebrating the Day of the Girl by highlighting, discussing, and advancing girls’ lives and opportunities. Find out how you can join in on the movement here, plug into the Day of the Girl Virtual Summit, or join an official Day of the Girl event here.

Meanwhile, over at Repair the World, we thought we would celebrate by sharing some of our favorite girl and woman empowerment organizations. Check them out!

  • Moving Traditions: This organizations’ popular program Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing! has inspired more than 10,000 pre-teen and teenage girls across the country to join in the monthly celebration of the ancient New Moon holiday while building self-esteem, leadership skills, and Jewish identity.
  • Ma’yan: This non-profit and education incubator focuses a feminist lens on the cultural challenges and identity issues facing Jewish girls in contemporary society. Their research, programming and community events help participants grow into critical, curious, and committed global citizens.
  • Care: This humanitarian organization works to fight global poverty, placing a special focus on women.
  • Girls Inc.: The goal of this organization is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold. Their programs help girls navigate gender, economic and social barriers, while equipping them with the tools for health and success.
  • The Girl Effect This website focuses on the unique potential of the world’s 600,000 adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.
  • Smart Girls at the Party Led by awesome (and awesomely funny) smart girl Amy Poehler, this interactive social network empowers girls to change the world by being themselves.

Focusing On Women’s Health on World Population Day

Last fall, the world’s population hit a record 7 billion people. Today, approximately 8 months later, we’re up to 7,025,433,781 (and growing). At an abstract level, all those new babies being brought into the world is a beautiful thought. Be fruitful and multiply, right?

But the world’s quickly expanding population has its challenges too – putting a stress on ecological and community resources, and a strain on many families – and particularly women. That’s why today, World Population Day aims to raise awareness about population issues across the world.

The focus of this year’s celebration is family planing and reproductive health. According to the UN: “Reproductive health problems remain the leading cause of ill health and death for women of childbearing age worldwide. Some 222 million women who would like to avoid or delay pregnancy lack access to effective family planning. Nearly 800 women die every day in the process of giving life. About 1.8 billion young people are entering their reproductive years, often without the knowledge, skills and services they need to protect themselves.”

The UN has organized lots of initiatives to support women’s reproductive health in the coming years – like working with the Gates Foundation to increase women’s access to family planning. But you can get involved too by supporting like-minded organizations like Repair the World grantee-partner AJWS, the International Women’s Health Coaltion, Population Action International, and others, (Check out a great, user-generated round up of organizations here.)

Learn more about World Population Day at the video below:

Repair Interview: Talia Niederman on Year Course and Women’s Rights in Israel

Young Judea’s Year Course program brings talented and committed high school graduates to Israel for a year of learning, volunteering and discovery. Talia Niederman, an 18-year old from New Jersey and a lifelong participant in Young Judea, recently got back from her gap year in Israel. Needless to say, she had a life-changing experience.

Although she’s super busy this summer working as a counselor for Young Judea’s Camp Tel Yehuda, Niederman took some time to tell Repair the World about her background with service, why she felt compelled to join Year Course, and how she and her fellow YC’ers created a program to help women in need.

What is your background with service and volunteering – is it something you’ve always been passionate about?
Yes, I’ve always thought it was important to incorporate some form of social action into my life. In high school I was very involved with Young Judaea and did a lot of volunteering and service through the movement.

How did you hear about Year Course and what inspired you to participate?
Well I’ve been involved with Young Judaea since I was 10. I think it was around 9th grade that I told my parents I was going on Year Course. They weren’t originally too crazy about the idea. Throughout my time in Young Judea I was always hearing about all the amazing things YCers were doing. Back in the States we would try and parallel them in whatever ways we could. I remember the first event I ever planned was making sock dolls for the Darfuri refugees (a group the Year Course two ahead of me worked with heavily). Hearing all the things I did about my predecessor, I would be crazy not to have gone on Year Course.

What types of programs did you work on while you were in Israel?
I volunteered in a four places over the course of the year. In our Jerusalem section I worked at an after school program for Ethiopian Jews. In Bat Yam I worked at a battered women’s shelter and the Tel Aviv Rape Crisis Center, and in Arad I volunteered at a foster home. Each of these was roughly three months.

What experience had the most personal impact for you?
The most impactful thing for me was Garin Kol L’Nashim. Six (which eventually turned to seven) of us created this Garin to combat various women’s issues in Israel. It was from the Garin that we got the inspiration to work at the Tel Aviv Rape Crisis Center and the battered women’s shelter. We also collected 400 toiletry items for a shelter for sex trafficked women, created two education kits for people in America, made t-shirts from which we donated the profit to the battered women’s shelter, and continuously kept a blog.

The Garin not only helped us to help the broader community, but it gave us a forum to discuss various women’s issues with each other. By the end of the year it was me and three others. The four of us really built a wonderful and proactive community together, for which I am extremely proud and grateful.

Find out more about Young Judea’s Year Course program and how you can get involved, here.

Celebrate Helen Keller’s Birthday By Standing Up for Others

Helen Keller was born June 27, 1880. That’s a seriously long time ago – and yet, the activist and humanitarian who overcame the adversity of being both blind and deaf still stands as one of America’s most beloved heroes.

Two years after Keller was born, she fell ill and ended up blind, deaf, and mute. But instead of giving up on life, Keller worked with a teacher, Anne Sullivan, and eventually went on to graduate from college in 1904 – helping pave the way for other women graduates. After college, she lectured all over the country and devoted her life to help others living with disabilities. She was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement, and a pacifist. In 1915, she co-founded Helen Keller International, an organization to fight against the causes of blindness and malnutrition. A few years later in 1920, she helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Keller spent her life standing up for others, and not allowing disabilities define her. In honor of her birthday, take a minute to find out more and support the organizations she founded and believed in:

  • ACLU Support or get involved with the civil liberties organization that Keller herself helped to co-found.
  • American Foundation for the Blind Lend your support or your volunteering hand (find out how here) to the country’s leading foundation supporting vision impaired citizens. FYI: Keller worked here for nearly 40 years.
  • Helen Keller International Keller’s organization is still going strong, fighting blindness, malnutrition and poverty throughout the world. Find out how you can get involved here.
  • Guide Dogs for the Blind Spend time with adorable dogs while helping to train them to assist vision impaired people. Find out how here.

Find out more about Keller’s amazing life and work here. Then check out the inspiring video from Biography below:

Shabbat Service: Supporting Women Leaders and Entrepreneurs

Shabbat Service is a weekly bit of Torah-inspired do-gooding, brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Read on to see how these ancient stories can apply today. Seem far fetched? Check it out:

The story: This week’s parsha (Torah portion), Shlach tells the story of God instructing Moses to send men to the land of Canaan – the Israelite’s future home – to scope out the situation. Unfortunately they come back with a mostly negative report – of fierce people, fortified cities, and an inhospitable land. Not surprisingly, the report discourages the Israelites from entering Canaan and God punishes them with 40 years of desert wandering.

According to 16th century commentator, Kli Yakar, the tragedy might have been averted if Moses sent women spies instead of men. Why? As Dvar Tzedek author Sigal Samuel writes, “The Kli Yakar’s reasoning is simple: whereas the male Israelites show a lack of investment in the land, the female Israelites show great love for it. Had Moses sent female spies, the Kli Yakar suggests, they would have seen the same terrifying sights as their male counterparts; but, driven by their love for the land, they would have focused on long-term solutions instead of becoming discouraged in the face of difficulty.”

The takeaway: Samuel writes, the parsha reminds us that “like the Israelite women, the women of today’s world [ed. note: and particularly in developing countries] show a great aptitude for creating and implementing the future-oriented plans their nations need—when they are given equal opportunity to do so.” They tend to invest in education and long-term strategies for the health of their communities. (Read more evidence about that here.)

The “to-do”: Invest in the world’s shared future. Donate to micro-loan organizations that support the work of women (and men!) farmers, small business owners and entrepreneurs in the America and across the developing world. Orgs to check out: KIVA, WomenVenture, and Accion.

Read the full Torah commentary, on which this excerpt is based, over at AJWS’ website. And for more great texts, commentary and Jewish learning resources on social justice, check out the On 1 Foot database.

Your Guide to Pride

June is LGBT Pride Month, – a month that remembers the Stonewall Riots of 1969, while honoring the impact that LGBT community has had – and are having – around the world!

Repair the World wishes to honor this special month by offering some exciting ways you can get involved to advocate for a life of equality. We’re also highlighting some amazing LGBTQ heroes who are working to end hate across the world.

Inspiring People from the LGBTQ Community

Fagyele Ben MiriamFaygele Ben Miriam, Same-Sex Marriage’s Jewish Pioneer
Tablet Magazine profiles the incredible activist career of Faygele ben Miriam – a man who started Washington state’s battle over marriage more than 40 years ago. Written by Pulitzer Prizer winner Eli Sanders. This is a MUST read. Read more »

Brittany McMillanBrittany McMillan, Founder of #SpiritDay
At just 15, Brittany ignited a national movement in support of LGBTQ youth when she started Spirit Day. What began in 2010 as a Tumblr page devoted to the memory of LGBTQ or LGBTQ-perceived teens who lost their lives to suicide, turned into a global event that inspires millions of people to wear purple each year in a stand against bullying. Learn more »

Noam ParnessNoam Parness, LGBTQ community organizer, activist, volunteer & all-around rock star
Noam Parness is a 22-year old rising senior at Queens College (and all around inspiring guy), who organizes for the LGBTQ community – both on campus and off. Noam took some time out of his schedule to talk about speaking on National Coming Out Day, the importance of building coalitions within a movement, and how Jewish tradition fuels his work. Learn more »

Upcoming LGBTQ events and opportunities

BornsteinKate Bornstein at Beit Simchat Torah Congregation
On June 22, meet the inspiring Kate Bornstein, Jewish transgender activist, theorist, playwright & performer. Her book, “Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws” is an underground best seller, propelling Kate into an international position of advocacy for marginalized youth. She’s been honored by the NYC Council, received Keshet’s Hachamat Lev award, and garnered praise from civil rights groups around the globe. Learn more »

LGBTQ Teen ShabbatonCelebrate being yourself! Jewish LGBTQ Teen Shabbaton
This August, join Jewish LGBTQ and allied teens for a weekend of fun, social activities and supportive learning sessions at the Isabella Freedman. Presented in partnership with Keshet and UJA-Federation of New York. Learn more »

Camp PrideCAMP PRIDE Summer Leadership Camp
Let’s go camp! Now you can develop friendships for a lifetime with other LGBTQ and ally college students, build your leadership skills and take action as a social justice advocate for a safer and more inclusive campus. Learn more »

Ways to Get Involved

GLSENStart a GSA at your school!
Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) are student clubs that work to improve school climate for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Did you know that the first GSA was the idea of a straight student? Find out how to start your own GSA or join an existing network. Learn more »

Trevor ProjectVolunteer with The Trevor Project!
Every day, The Trevor Project saves young lives through its free and confidential lifeline, in-school workshops, educational materials, online resources and advocacy. Trevor recognizes that volunteers are the backbone of the organization, and offers ways to get involved at all ages. Are you interested in volunteering? Learn more »

Human Rights CampaignVolunteer with Human Rights Campaign!
Volunteering with HRC empowers you to be an important part in creating change for our country. Work with HRC to educate the public about critical issues in the LGBTQ community, mobilize your community to take action, expand the voice and visibility of the LGBTQ community, and bolster a a nationwide effort to end hate and discrimation. Learn more »

Pledge to Speak out against intolerance!

It Gets Better ProjectIt Gets Better Project
Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are, and growing up isn’t easy. The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBTQ people the leavels of happiness, potential and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years.. Pledge to speak up against hate and intolerance. Learn more »

The Bully ProjectThe Bully Project
A year ago, BBYO teens launched Stand UP for Each Other: A Campaign for Respect and Inclusion, a grassroots effort focused on creating safe and welcome communities for all Jewish teens. Show your support for the Stand UP Campaign by helping BBYO and The Bully Project raise awareness around this very serious issue and put an end to bullying. Learn more »

Do Not Stand Idly ByDo Not Stand Idly By, a Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives
Do Not Stand Idly By asks the Jewish community to pledge to end homophobic bullying and harrassment of any kind in our synagogues, schools, organizations, and communities. As a signatory, you are supporting an fully inclusive Jewish community, and pledging to speak out when witnessing intolerance. Learn more »

More resources

Check out these additional resources on how to help make this world a more inclusive society for all.

So, how will you make this world a better place? Let us know @repairtheworld.