Sisterhood Blog

Digest: National Survey on Agunot; New Ruling on Parental Leave

By Gabrielle Birkner

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The Sisterhood Digest:

A group of Israeli women recently smuggled 12 Palestinian women and four children into Israel for a day of leisure. The women dined out in Jaffa and swam in the Mediterranean before the Palestinian women returned to the West Bank via Jerusalem. Among the excursion organizers was the Israeli writer Ilana Hammerman, who earlier this year wrote a magazine piece about another such gathering.


Barbara J. Zakheim, founder of the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse of Greater Washington is undertaking what is believed to be the first national survey of agunot, or women who, unable to obtain a Jewish divorce document, are stuck in unwanted marriages.


Haaretz introduces readers to Israeli psychologist Edna Foa — a pioneer of “Prolonged Exposure Therapy.” The technique is being used by the U.S. military on soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


Women of the Wall, the women’s prayer group that meets monthly at the Kotel, is asking its supporters to send Israeli politicians pictures of women carrying Torahs. This request comes in the wake of the July arrest of the group’s leader, Anat Hoffman, while she was carrying a Torah from the Kotel plaza to the Robinson’s Arch section of the Western Wall. The photos are to be accompanied by the following note: “Women of the Wall are not alone. Our daughters and our rabbis, our mothers and our grandmothers, our cantors and our teachers hold the Torah, read from the Torah, and study the Torah every day … Only in Jerusalem do women pray with fear and only in Jerusalem are women treated as criminals for practicing Judaism.”


Since 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act has guaranteed new parents who work at companies with 50 or more employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. But for those who work at smaller companies and live in Massachusetts, eight weeks of unpaid parental leave is all that they are entitled to, the state’s supreme court ruled this week.


Jewlicious has an interview — albeit a bizarre one — with Chana Mason, the founder of Shirat Devorah, a new Jerusalem seminary for newly observant Jewish women between the ages of 20 and 30.


More girls are beginning puberty at ages as young as 7 or 8, a new study shows. Increased rates of childhood obesity could be a factor in early-onset puberty, and some researchers think environmental chemicals could be playing a role, too.


Stephanie Erlich talks to Tablet’s Julie Subrin about the inspiration for her one-woman Fringe Festival show “Feed the Monster.” The musical centers on Orthodox Jewish woman turned rock star.


The new HBO documentary, “12th & Delaware,” from the filmmakers behind “Jesus Camp,” looks at tactics employed by one “crisis pregnancy center” — such centers push an overtly anti-abortion agenda — that has set up shop across the street from an abortion clinic in Fort Pierce, Fla. (The Sisterhood recently told you about another crisis pregnancy center — this one geared toward Jewish women facing unplanned pregnancies.)


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