The Sisterhood, Evolved

By Jane Eisner

I remember the day my mother was asked to be president of our synagogue sisterhood. She was making chopped liver — yes, chopped liver — when the phone rang, and in hurrying to answer it, she accidentally spread the brown, smelly meat everywhere. No matter. She was thrilled to accept! After her own wedding, and before her two daughters married nice Jewish men, this definitely was one of the most exciting days of her life.

I thought of this happy memory earlier this week on my way to speak to that same sisterhood. The synagogue of my youth in Mount Vernon, NY merged with another synagogue, and merged again, and is now housed in a smaller building adjacent to the old one, which was torn down and rebuilt as an assisted-living facility. I hadn’t been to either site in more than 20 years. But when I moved to New York to become editor of the Forward, a woman whose name I still recognized called me immediately to address the group.

How could I refuse? The sisterhood was everything to my mother, a classic immigrant homemaker whose life revolved around family, synagogue and the occasional game of tennis. Never able to access the education her brothers received, never thinking that larger leadership roles would be open to her, she made the sisterhood her expression of Jewish identity.

And that’s why we decided to name this new blog “The Sisterhood.” The traditional Sisterhood was — and in some places, still is — the place where Jewish women came together to do good and have fun, to bridge family and communal life, to share and debate and learn and lead. Our virtual Sisterhood has much the same aim, except that it builds on the Forward’s national status and independent streak to connect Jewish women across generations, denominations, geography and politics for a vibrant and, we hope, entertaining conversation.

The women (with a smattering of men) in attendance at Sinai Free Synagogue earlier this week asked terrific questions. They insisted on feeding me, of course. They told me I reminded them of my mother. High praise! They made me feel so welcome.

So I’d like to return the favor.

Welcome.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • 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.