Today is International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter. International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated annually on March 8.
In 1908, there was great unrest and critical debate amongst women. Women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. That year, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights. One year later, in accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on February 28.
In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named Clara Zetkin (Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women's Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day - to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs - and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament - greeted Zetkin's suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women's Day was the result.
The day has now occurred for well over a century. Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist, and activist once explained "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."
Let’s celebrate today and focus on gender equality, a greater awareness of discrimination, and a celebration of women’s achievements. I know the impact the women in my life (grandmothers, mother, sister, daughter, colleagues, friends, and most of all my wife) have had on me and I want to celebrate each of them.
This past week, the Jewish Federation, in partnership with multiple community organizations, provided three excellent workshops with Sharsheret, a national organization supporting Jewish women and their families facing breast and ovarian cancer. As we know, no one plans to get cancer. Frequently we do not know how to provide support and care. However, we can “arm ourselves with knowledge” and learn how to perform the mitzvah of visiting the sick; how to be a caregiver for someone we love; or, what resources are available to us before, during, and after a difficult diagnosis. These conversations are never easy. But engaging in these conversations in community and hearing from experts truly helps.
The excellent workshops provided “things to think about” for guides at our community mikvaot for women with cancer, ways to support women facing cancer, and ideas to foster culturally-relevant individualized connections with networks of peers, health professionals, and related resources.
I want to invite you to a special presentation by Bassem Eid on Tuesday, March 12 at 7:00 p.m. at Congregation Neveh Shalom (2900 Peaceful Lane). Mr. Eid is a Jerusalem-based Palestinian political analyst and human rights pioneer. He is an expert commentator on Arab and Palestinian affairs and the recipient of several human rights awards. In 1996, Eid founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, and in 2016 he became chair of the Center for Near East Policy Research. He will speak on Internal Palestinian Politics and Conflict: An insider’s view on the Palestinian leadership and the prospects for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This important evening is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council and Congregation Neveh Shalom – Israel 360. The entire community is invited and there is no charge to attend. Please join us on March 12.
Since we have now entered the month of Adar II (remember, this is a leap year in the Jewish calendar), we are commanded to increase our joy. Thus, here are a few cute jokes for you (one is from a local doctor who keeps me smiling every Friday):
Chelm diner: "I'll take my coffee without cream."
Chelm waiter: "We're out of cream, will you take it without milk?"
A dirty one – The pig fell in the mud.
A clean one -- What kind of animal do you not want to play poker with? – A cheetah .
Finally, here is a comment from Michael Twitty, African-American and Jewish writer, food historian, and educator, shared at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center's Friends of the Center Brunch last Sunday. He said, " The Jewish people created gefilte fish so we would have an excuse to eat horseradish ."
Smile (!) and Shabbat shalom.