Sisterhood Blog

Tweeting the Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

“Big Hats and bigger opinions, she knew ‘This woman’s place is in the House—the House of Representatives,’” Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder tweeted on May 2, the launch day for Jewish Women’s Archive’s “#jwapedia: Tweeting the Encyclopedia” project. By doing so, she sent a link to the article about Bella Abzug in the online “Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia” hurtling out into cyberspace to be clicked on, opened and read by her many Twitter followers.

The rabbi (and occasional Sisterhood contributor), together with 25 other prolific tweeters in the Jewish community, will be tweeting a significant portion of the encyclopedia’s 1,700 biographies, 300 thematic essays, and 1,400 photographs as an experiment throughout May in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month.

Although they were asked to commit to tweeting just one article a week, many of the partners have immediately embraced the project and have been tweeting multiple articles a day. Three days into the effort, 58 articles had already been tweeted — and retweeted many times over.

Abusch-Magder, who suggested the project idea to JWA, sees this as an experiment in harnessing the power of social media to let people transmit and translate historical information in their own way and to their own networks. “Scholars are not going to make history popular, but something like this will,” the rabbi said.

The project is designed very openly to allow tweeters to choose whichever articles interest them. They need only search the online encyclopedia by keywords, time period or countries and come up with a catchy way to summarize a scholarly article in 140 characters or less. It is completely fine if several tweeters tweet the same article.

The original team of tweeters, joined already by a handful of others, have sliced and diced the material according to individual passions such as Broadway performers, Canadian Jewish history and cookbook authors.

“It’s an exercise in remembering the varied ties we have to history, in acknowledging that different things draw different people in,” JWA’s Leah Berkenwald, a frequent Sisterhood contributor, said.

Abusch-Magder believes that “this fundamentally challenges the top-down model of history.”

Liz Polay-Wettengel, community manager for JewishBoston.com and a #jwapedia tweeter, blogged recently that she easily found people she never heard of and was fascinated to learn about. “For example, do you know about Bessie Louise Moses? No? She is the founder of the first birth control clinic in 1927 and a pioneer in women’s reproductive health. She paved the way for so many others in women’s health and I’m thrilled to be able to learn about her through the Jewish Women’s Archive encyclopedia,” Polay-Wettengel wrote.

Anyone can join the campaign by tweeting a link to the Encyclopedia using the hashtag #jwapedia.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Twitter, Jewish Women's Archive, Bessie Louise Moses, Bella Abzug

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.