Sisterhood Blog

Matronita: Religious Women, Feminist Artwork

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Helène Aylon
Helène Aylon’s ‘My Marriage Bed/My Clean Days’ is featured in Matronita.

“Matronita” — from the Latin matrona, a woman of high social and moral status — is a term appearing dozens of times in the Talmud to refer to a woman who engages in discussions with the rabbinic sages. The word, which can also mean a queen or a partner of a king, is the title given to the first major exhibition in Israel of feminist art by women from an observant Jewish background.

With the endless headlines out of Israel about women being excluded from the public sphere, this show could not be more timely. Matronita: Jewish Feminist Art opened January 27 at the Mishkan Le’Omanut/Museum of Art in Ein Harod.

Curated by Dvora Liss and David Sperber, Matronita engages familiar feminist subjects, like power and oppression, body image and menstruation. Interwoven in the artwork are themes unique to the Jewish experience: niddah and ritual immersion, hair covering, agunot, women’s study and Jewish legal issues surrounding infertility.

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Digest: A New 'Morning-After' Pill; Ruth Gruber Documentary

By Gabrielle Birkner

The Sisterhood Digest:

According to protocols from former Israeli President Moshe Katzav’s recent trial for rape and other sex crimes, Katsav “saw women that were subordinate to him as a reserve from which he chose sexual objects,”. The defense has called the accusations “blood libel.” A verdict in the case is expected this fall.


A Lebanese medical aid ship carrying all women is planning to set sail for Gaza on Sunday, in an attempt to break Israel’s blockade of the strip.


Writing in Tablet, Eddy Portnoy has a jewel of a story about a 1906 riot, during which tens of thousands of Jewish mothers took to Lower East Side streets to protest … tonsillectomies.


Call it the-morning-after-the-morning-after-the-morning-after-the-morning-after-the-morning-after pill — or call it ella. Either way, the new drug has won FDA approval, and is expected to hit U.S. pharmacies this fall.


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Audio Slideshow: Challenging Rabbinic Misogyny — With Paper Cuts

By Nadja Spiegelman

When I was told that there would be a professional paper-cutter visiting the Forward offices, my first reaction was to stock up on Band-Aids. But British artist Jacqueline Nicholls, in town for the recent Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance conference, is no paper-wielding ninja. An Orthodox feminist, Nicholls turned to the traditional Jewish art of paper-cutting to express frustration at what she sees as the misogyny in Jewish liturgy. Over the past six months, she’s created a series of doilies, featuring distressing quotes from traditional Jewish texts at the center and provocative illustrations in the surrounding latticework. In this audio slideshow, she discusses the rabbinic language behind the recent Women of the Wall debacle, the liturgical quote that takes on the idea of the Jewish American Princess, and the dirty search terms that drive the most traffic to her Web site.

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