News and Stories
  JANUARY 2010
Stories of Jewish women in environmental activism
Jodi Sugerman-Brozan
Ellen Bernstein
Judith Helfand
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2010 Institute for Educators
From July 25 to 29, 2010, the Jewish Women's Archive will host a group of 25 educators from across the country at The Power of Our Stories: Institute for Educators, generously funded by the Dorot Foundation.

Focused on the role of Jews in the American Civil Rights Movement, the 2010 Institute will provide intensive professional development and will enrich educators' teaching with the compelling stories of American Jewish lives, past and present.

If you know an educator who might be interested in attending, please forward this or invite them via Facebook!

Applications must be submitted online by March 1, 2010.

This Week in History
January 9, 1886

Ida Cohen Rosenthal, co-founder of Maidenform, the first company to make modern bras, was born on January 9, 1886 in Tsarist Russia. Shortly after immigrating to New Jersey in 1904, she married William Rosenthal and began working as an independent seamstress.

The Rosenthals disliked the way "flapper" dresses of the era fit around the chest, and so they developed a new undergarment that would support and accentuate a woman's natural figure.

Read more at This Week in History.

Vintage photo courtesy of Joan Thewlis.




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Environmental activism: a Jewish tradition

Did you know that tree-hugging is a Jewish value? Beginning with the commandment for Adam and Eve to protect the Garden of Eden, Jewish tradition teaches that sustaining the health of the earth and all of its living things is a moral imperative. 

In celebration of Tu B'shevat, the "Jewish New Year for trees" on January 29, we honor Jewish women who have
played an important role in the movement to increase environmental consciousness and protect our planet.

A year ago on, we recognized the contributions of Arlene Blum, Betsy Shure Gross, Rabbi Jill Hammer, Leah Koenig, Shelley Morhaim, and Jill Stein. A number of readers wrote in to tell us about other Jewish women environmentalists, including Judith Helfand, Ellen Bernstein, and Jodi Sugerman-Brozan, whose inspiring stories are featured below.

Add an environmental activist to our list!

Do you know a Jewish woman environmentalist deserving recognition?  Tell us about her! 
Click here to send us her name and a brief description of what she has done for the environment. If possible, please include her contact information and attach a photo. You will see your submission profiled on when we update our Jewish Women in Environmental Activism feature this spring.

Jodi Sugerman-Brozan: Fighting for Environmental Justice

Jodi Sugerman-Brozan has spent the last 12 years at Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE), which works to empower communities of color and lower income communities in New England to eradicate environmental racism and classism and achieve environmental justice.

"Concepts like Tikkun Olam and Tzedek have allowed me to make connections between Judaism and my passion for justice that have both sustained me as an organizer and changed the way I approach the work. I have been fortunate to have many opportunities to gather with Jewish activists to explore deeply the connections between our work and culture.  Each gathering and discussion rejuvenates me and deepens my commitment to both Judaism and social change."

Ellen Bernstein: Connecting Ecology and Spirituality

Ellen Bernstein founded Shomrei Adamah (Keepers of the Earth), the first national Jewish environmental organization in 1988. "As a student, I was disturbed about the rampant environmental destruction I saw everywhere around me, and believed that synagogues and churches could serve to deliver the environmental message to masses of people." 

After years of searching unsuccessfully for a Jewish environmental organization, Ellen founded her own: Shomrei Adamah, and began producing educational materials and books that explore the ecological teachings rooted in Jewish tradition.  Ellen believes an ecological vision can help revitalize Jewish life and serve as a point of engagement for unaffiliated Jews. She continues to deliver her message through writing, teaching, speaking and consulting.

Judith Helfand: Advocating for Socially Conscious Filmmaking

A filmmaker, activist and educator, Judith Helfand raises awareness of the dark realities of chemical exposure, corporate irresponsibility and global warming. Her film Everything's Cool (co-directed with Daniel Gold) explores the denial and spin surrounding global warming in the U.S.

In 2005, Judith co-founded Chicken & Egg Pictures, a hybrid film fund and production company that provides money and mentorship to women filmmakers making socially conscious films. Last year it launched the Which Came First Fund which funds women cinematically taking on the environmental justice issues of our day. Judith is currently working on Cooked, a film about the 1995 Chicago heat wave and the politics of crisis and poverty.
Leftover Hanukkah gelt burning a hole in your pocket? Order your copy of Making Trouble today.

Brighten the dark nights of winter with Making Trouble.  This JWA-produced film features the stories of six trailblazing Jewish women in comedy:  
Molly Picon, Fanny Brice, Sophie Tucker, Joan Rivers, Gilda Radner, and Wendy Wasserstein.

Order your DVD today at

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