Women and Israel

On Sunday, January 6 Theater J and The Forward hosted a Post Show Panel Discussion titled Women and Israel. We welcomed to our stage:

  • Moderated by Jane Eisner, editor-in-chief of The Forward
  • Rachel Lerner, Vice President of J Street Education Fund
  • Susan Weidman Schneider, a founding mother of Lilith, the award-winning Jewish women’s magazine, where she has been Editor-in-Chief since its debut in 1976
  • Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman, Author of The Men’s Section: Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World and Executive Director of The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA)

Drop in on the conversation at Vimeo…

Post Show Panel Discussion: Women and Israel from Theater J on Vimeo.

As always, you can access our full list of Theater J programming (discussions, talk backs, and readings) here.


Voices from a Changing Middle East — The Conversation Begins

Shirley here.

Our VOICES festival always lends itself to much conversation, and this year is no exception.

We officially launched our series of panel discussions this past Sunday, with a powerhouse group of women ruminating on the topic of “Women and Religious Tradition” and covering a wide variety of subjects ranging from the glass ceiling within the Jewish Not-for-Profit world to the harassment of an eight-year-old girl in the Ultra Orthodox community of Beit Shemesh.

Panelists Jennifer Breger, Sara Rose Gorfinkel, Naomi Malka, Rabbi Esther L. Lederman, and moderator Shirley Serotsky

Panelists Jennifer Breger, Sara Rose Gorfinkel, Naomi Malka, Rabbi Esther L. Lederman, and moderator Shirley Serotsky

It was an honor to share the stage with this impressive brain trust:

  • Jennifer Breger, author, JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance) Board member  and editor of the JOFA Journal
  • Sara Rose Gorfinkel, Executive Director, Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation of Greater Washington
  • Naomi Malka, Coordinator of the Adas Israel Community Mikvah
  • Rabbi Esther Lederman, Associate Rabbi at Temple Micah

Next up, Theater J Council Member Stephen Stern will be talking with Hazzan Dr. Ramón Tasat (vocalist, composer, arranger, and choral conductor of Sephardic, Ladino, Israeli, and Classical Italian music) for An Encounter with Sephardic Identity through Music.

Check out our complete schedule of Voices from a Changing Middle East programming here; the schedule will be updated regularly to reflect additions and changes. As always–Theater J patrons can attend any and all panels–we invite you to join in on the conversation!

Becoming Aware of Body Awareness

Shirley here.

Following up on Ari’s post below–check out the continued Gender U: Framing Feminism on Today’s College Campus on our Vimeo site.


It was an honor to share the stage with this brain trust of women. To introduce the conversation, I explained my own experience with Women’s Studies on a college campus–as a student at the University of Michigan in the mid-90s. I was a musical theater major, but I’d come to school interested in women’s history (growing up in Rochester, NY surely helped to foster that) and already fascinated by the legacy of feminism I’d inherited from my mother’s generation and the way my generation was beginning to define our own legacy. I started to take classes in the women’s studies department—and considered embarking on a double major. The task of navigating these two fields, one which so embraced traditional gender roles and the other which questioned them, proved to be difficult territory to navigate, and eventually my trajectory changed in other ways. Which is all to say, I never ended up a Women’s Studies major. But there’s a part of me that still wishes I had.

Several of the questions from the audience on Sunday (and we’re working on getting that portion of the panel posted) suggested, “There must be more important topics for feminists to be worrying about than body image right now. What about the horrible oppression women face in many parts of the world? Or the attack on reproductive rights happening right here in the US?”

Yes, Yes, and Yes. But, as our panelists pointed out, each of these concerns relates to the next, which relates to the next, which relates to “who has power over our bodies and lives” which is also what BODY AWARENESS is all about. And so none of these battles are mutually exclusive. And I would say–there is little value to assigning them rank and order.

Continue reading

Artistic Interpretation

Shirley here.

We do a fair amount of Artistic Interpretation here at the J: turning history and biography into theater; adapting literary work for the stage; or simply bringing to life the stories our playwrights create. But what happens when someone else Artistically Interprets us?

In May, Director of Community Outreach and New Media Becky Peters asked local comic artists to respond to THE HISTORY OF INVULNERABILITY through their art.  We received submissions from established and beginning artists alike, and all three were new to Theater J. We couldn’t have been more thrilled with these thoughtful, perceptive takes on the story.

From Carolyn Belefski of Curls Studio:

Carolyn displays a new Curls comic strip every Monday and Thursday and offends and/or entertains with her improv podcast, The Carolyn and Joe Show, each Tuesday. She collaborates with writer Joe Carabeo on the comic books Kid Roxy, Black Magic Tales and The Legettes.

Enjoy her blog, visit the Curls Studio store, and listen to her podcasts at curls-studio.com.

From Raymond H. Allard:

Raymond writes: I began my artistic career after graduating with a BFA in Fine Art by working in the advertising department of a great metropolitan newspaper.  Naturally I pursued the art of making comic books.  Later, I joined the Foreign-Service wife as we traveled overseas for twenty years, and I learned to teach academic writing.  In my life I have experimented with almost every known form of artistic expression except expressive dance. (I cannot dance.)  So I am an artist, print-maker, poet, playwright, author, cartoonist, essayist, musician, actor, teacher, comedian and gardener.

And finally, from Andrew Cohen:

And, while I reported on our disappointing techFail in recording some of our final panels of last season, I was pleased to discover that our panel with Local Comic Artists was recorded, produced, and posted on Carolyn’s blog–so have a listen! This subject relates not only to this production, but to our overall Locally Grown initiative mission–in which we aim to shine a light on artists living and working in the DC-area. So seek out these artists, and if you’re intrigued–buy their books!