Weekly Response: Podcast Sneak Peek!

Posted on July 26, 2018 by

Every week we’re asking our summer interns to share some thoughts and responses to various experiences and readings. This week we asked them to share about their upcoming podcast episodes. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.

Feminism in Judaism: A Broad Podcast Topic

-Intern Ash

Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini is one of those exhibits that really brings people into a Jewish Museum that might not otherwise think to visit a specifically “Jewish” museum. It provides a popular topic with modern appeal (magic!), and creates an opportunity to connect people with a Jewish narrative in unexpected ways.

Originally, for our podcast (which I’m working on with interns Alexia Orengo Green and Cara Bennet), we were inspired by the Houdini exhibit here at the JMM. We wanted to explore how Jewish narratives can appeal to a wider audience, much like in the Houdini exhibit, and what connections can be made to draw people in that are outside of the Jewish community. However, “Jewish narratives” is a broad, broad topic. We talked for a while and found ourselves on the topic of feminism, an issue we thought was current and had a wide appeal, both inside and outside of the Jewish community. When we started to excitedly chat about all the different things we thought were interesting about feminism within the Jewish community, we realized that we had pinpointed our topic for our podcast.

Screenshot from a YouTube video about feminism in Judaism, “The Click Moment.” Photo via the Forward

I think the hardest thing so far for our podcast has been editing down and refining our ideas. Because our group consists of three people, we each have different topics that we have a lot to say about within the feminist movement in Judaism. I’m most interested, for example, in the Haggadah supplements that are used during Passover.

Cover of “Like an Orange on a Seder Plate: Our Feminist Haggadah.” Picture via Barnes and Noble

The Haggadah is the traditional text read during the beginning of Passover, a holiday that celebrates the Jewish escape from slavery in Egypt. There are modern supplemental texts that can be read alongside, or in place of, the Haggadah. These supplemental texts many times include social justice topics and focus on freedom and justice within different communities in our society, so there are many feminist Haggadah supplements that have been written and are available online. Since Passover is a holiday about freedom from slavery, there are a lot of opportunities to talk about feminism and other movements within marginalized groups. However, there are a lot of other topics that are also important to feminism in the Jewish community, so refining and editing everything we want to cover in our podcast will be our biggest challenge moving forward.

Creating a Podcast

~Intern Alexia

As someone who has now recently began listening to podcasts, I was thrilled when I learned that I had to create one as part of my internship in the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Being completely honest, I was a little nervous because of the many topics to choose from. One day in the office while talking with my fellow interns about the podcast we decided to team up for this adventure. Being the collections interns, Ash Turner, Cara Bennet, and I decided that we wanted to incorporate the element of exhibits into our joined podcast. And as soon as we decided that we were going to do the podcast together the next question was: what are we going to talk about?

Regarding the topic of our podcast, we knew we wanted two things: the topic had to relate to the Jewish community and that it should be something that could have the possibility of being turned into an exhibit in the future. After brainstorming and coming up with more historical based ideas, the topic of feminism in the Jewish community came up, and we all knew we had found what our podcast was going to be about. This topic does not only engage with the Jewish community, but it also contributes to an extremely important conversation.

Cover of Jewish Radical Feminism by Joyce Antler. Image via Jewish Women’s Archives.

Once we had our topic, everything began to fall into place little by little. The first thing we had to decide was what kind of podcast we wanted to create. We decided to go for a more informal and conversational style of podcast because that way we could reach a greater audience. By also being a conversational podcast, the audience would not feel they are listening to a lecture, but rather an easy conversation to follow.

Because of the many things we can talk about on a feminist Jewish podcast we had to be thorough when it came to select what we were going to say. We decided that on the episode we are going to start by defining what feminism is, why we chose the topic, and what it means for us. This is important because it gives the audience a small introduction of the overall topic. Then we decided we are going to touch base with how feminism looks in contemporary Jewish practices and finally, which woman would each of would like to highlight in an exhibit of feminism in the Jewish community.

Book cover of I Dissent by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley.

We believe this podcast will contribute to the greater conversation about feminism that we are having in today’s world. Even though we are only creating one episode of the podcast we all know this topic has the possibility of being more.

Peering Into History

-Intern Marisa

I am very pleased to announce the first (and likely only) installment of Peering Into History, a podcast about parts of history oft forgotten, hosted by me, Marisa Shultz. In this episode, I am going to describe the spectrum of contemporaneous Jewish perspectives on slavery in Antebellum America. Specifically, I am going to examine the ideologies of Rabbi Bernard Illoway and Rabbi David Einhorn, both of whom served in Baltimore just prior to the Civil War.

This is an image of Rabbi Bernard Illoway, who served at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation from 1859-1861. Illoway was a supporter of slavery and justified the South’s choice to secede from the Union. CP 11.2013.1

Researching the podcast was an interesting experience; I have done some work on this general subject before, but I did run into some challenges. Namely, Rabbi Einhorn published mostly in German, a language that I cannot read, but I was lucky enough to find a translated version of one of his sermons. Finding Rabbi Illoway’s writings was fairly easy, but combing through to find the few devoted just to the subject of slavery was more of a challenge. Through this process though, I found new electronic newspaper resources, namely with the National Library of Israel.

Writing the podcast was also a unique experience. I had to gauge the audience and take a guess as to what their knowledge might be in regard to the subject. I had to make sure I kept the action moving so as to engage my listeners, and I had to consider the lack of a visual elements, like tables or charts.

This is an image of Rabbi David Einhorn, who served at Har Sinai from 1855-1861. Einhorn was an ardent Abolitionist and wanted to see the slaves freed. JMM 1985.184.1

I think I have found a nice balance though, and I am really quite excited to share this episode with you. I’ve done a good deal of work in the Civil War field and I’ve found that we often talk about the opinions of protestant leaders and government officials, but the perspectives of the Jewish community are often either completely ignored or presented as uniform in thought. I really hope you take the time to listen to the episode when it comes out, and I hope you learn a little something new!

Podcasting your Passion

~Intern Cara

I was nervous when us interns were first assigned the task of recording a ten to fifteen-minute-long podcast. Ten to fifteen minutes seems like an eternity to someone like me who has a less than positive relationship with public speaking. But after choosing our topic (the relationship between Judaism and Feminism) I realized ten to fifteen minutes isn’t nearly enough time to cover a topic we all felt so passionately about. I first began thinking about this topic during my internship at the National Women’s History Museum this past spring. As I was writing an article highlighting important Jewish American women in history, I realized how many Jewish women were involved in the women’s rights movement. When I first learned about prominent second wave feminist leaders like Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem in my high school history class, I never made the connection that they were Jewish or thought about the role that Judaism played in their decisions to speak out against gender inequality.

Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” is often credited with starting the second wave feminist movement and consciousness raising of the 1960s. Image via.

While researching this topic, the Jewish Women’s Archive was an invaluable resource. While one of the major criticisms of Second Wave Feminism is its focus on white cisgender women, the Jewish Women’s Archive does a great job of highlighting women of color and LGTBQ women like Ilana Kaufman, an LGBTQ and civil rights activist, and Alicia Garza, one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Jewish Women’s Archive sells products featuring prominent Jewish Feminists including Emma Goldman, Gloria Steinem, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Image via.


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