Sisterhood Blog

Sexy for Soldiers

By Sarah Seltzer

Facebook

When I read the story of Israeli women sending sexy photos off the to IDF to wish them luck and boost morale, my reaction was more of a bemused shake of the head than anything akin to the outrage, confusion, and energy-draining sorrow I’ve been experiencing while reading a lot of recent war-related stories.

The same can be said for my response to the tale of the observant women in New York who are campaigning for an Israeli victory by holding a modesty contest at home, convinced that immodesty brings bad events to brethren abroad. Good luck covering those elbows for your cause, ladies. As Talia Lavin writes, her tone laced with irony, “The way to “help our brothers in their time of need,” apparently, is to suppress every inch of skin their sisters possess.” She even suggests an Iron Dome over women’s flesh.

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Where Are the Women Leaders in Wartime?

By Elana Sztokman

Gender democracy activist Anat Thon-Ashkenazy holds a 1325 pin in support of the UN resolution to bring women leaders into negotiations.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,” Albert Einstein famously quipped. Yet, when it comes to the current crisis in Israel and Gaza, the same minds that created the problems seem to be the ones charged with resolving them. And those minds almost exclusively belong to men.

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How Facebook 'Like' Came Between Dad and Me

By Avital Norman Nathman

Avital Norman Nathman and her son on a recent trip to Israel

I am my father’s daughter. That means I am incredibly passionate, equally stubborn and some might even say hot-headed. You can just imagine how my teen years went as I came into my own — lots of slammed doors, shouted ultimatums, and threats from both of us.

For the most part though, we see eye to eye on many issues now. Just the other day my father forwarded me a breaking news email from the New York Times regarding the Supreme Court’s Buffer Zone decision. My father’s cool like that — he sends me emails about abortion and supports me in my reproductive health work. What transpired was a calm and interesting back and forth about freedom of religion, speech and where one person’s rights ends and another’s begins. Somehow we can discuss certain hot button issues without devolving into shouting matches and tears.

But not all issues.

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Teaching Horror of Shoah Rape With Crochet

By Elissa Strauss

Gil Yefman’s TumTum

For nearly six months last year, Dr. Rochelle Saidel, founder and executive director of Remember the Women Institute, and artist Gil Yefman met weekly to talk about a topic deemed untouchable by many in their respective communities of academia and art: rape during the Holocaust. Saidel, who along with Dr. Sonja Hedgepeth, edited a book on the topic, initially met Yefman at a panel discussion on forced prostitution at Auschwitz. “I wondered why there was a young man in the front row who was crocheting as he sat and listened,” Saidel said.

The weekly meetings eventually fed into the work Yefman created for his new show “TO ME YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL {BAY MIR BISTU SHEYN},” now at Ronald Feldman Gallery in New York City. His first solo exhibition in New York, the show takes a sharp look at gender identity, sexuality and violence through the soft touch of traditionally feminine formats methods like crochet, soap-making and glamour shots. While walking through the exhibit I found myself seduced into believing I was safe amidst these mediums often associated with domestic crafts, and then would soon feel ripped open by the subject matter of rape, trans-identity, and prostitution. To Yefman’s credit, the power of pieces lies in their intimate, rather than political, approach to the subject matter.

The Sisterhood spoke with Yefman about the new exhibit, which is up through June 14.

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Where Are the Israeli Female Small Business Owners?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Renee Ghert-Zand // Israeli women network at the business conference

Israeli women, like their counterparts in the United States are, in parlance popularized by Sheryl Sandberg, leaning in. However, although Israel is “start-up nation,” it is no leader when it comes to women and business. I got a chance to learn more about this at a conference I attended last week in Jerusalem.

Onlife, an Israeli news and content website for women, partnered with the Jerusalem Municipality to bring an annual conference on small businesses owned by women to the Jerusalem. It was held at The First Station, Jerusalem’s old train station, which has been renovated in to a culture and entertainment venue, and was attended by 1,000 women from around the country.

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Israel Women Want to Talk Peace, Too

By Elissa Strauss

Israeli women want in on the peace process, and they think they can help.

As Haaretz’s Eetta Prince-Gibson reports, Israeli feminists recently got together to demand that the government include women on all decision and policy-making bodies, including those in charge of negotiating peace.

This would be part of their action plan to implement a U.N. Security Council resolution from 2000 that requires parties in conflict to make sure they are taking women’s perspectives and rights into account.

Currently the peace process in Israel is headed by a woman, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who supports the plan. But those behind the resolution say this isn’t just about the number of women, but about making sure a mix of women’s voices is being heard.

The thinking behind the resolution was that changes to warfare have led to a rise in civilian casualties, which tend to be women and children. The resolution states that women “are the key to ending violent conflict and to the establishment of lasting peace” and says U.N. member states should “take definitive action to protect women from violence.”

Israel was the first U.N. member state to adopt the resolution, back in 2005, but “like so much Israeli legislation in so many different areas, this legislation, too, remained impotently ‘on the books.’ ” So a coalition of feminists groups, 30 in total, spent two years coming up with a specific plan to make the resolution a reality.

The whole thing sounds like a no-brainer, right? The more women at the table, the better women’s interests are represented in the decision making process. Except for one little thing. Women, like men, have lots of different interests.

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