IEI head  
May 2014


You know the school year is over for some and almost over for others when you meet the 8th grade class returning from a trip to Israel, when the community gets together for a school picnic, when thousands of revelers run in the streets of San Francisco from Bay to Breakers, and when we celebrate Shavu'ot.

Now that the Omer counting and the time of anticipation is coming to an end, we get ready for Shavu'ot and the story of Ruth and Naomi, the central figures of the "Scroll of Ruth" read during the holiday. Fortuitously on Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel's Independence Day) Israel's official annual theme "A Time for Women - Achievements and Challenges" was announced. And so we dedicated this issue to the women of Israel.


We wish you a happy holiday and a great summer!

A Time for Women - Achievements and Challenges
The Official Annual Theme in Israel
11 of the torch lighters in a group photo

Earlier this month, the official Independence Day ceremony on Mount Herzl placed the accomplishments of Israeli women at the center of the national celebrations.


Each year, torch lighters are selected to represent an aspect of Israeli society and to light 12 symbolic torches representing the 12 ancient tribes of Israel.


An initiative of Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, the focus of this year's ceremony is "A Time for Women - Achievements and Challenges." The 14 torch lighters this year are all women, each with remarkable achievements, meaningful contribution to the state of Israel and Israeli society, and an inspiring life story. 


Women to light up Israeli Independence Day 



Women of Israel at 66: A celebration of achievement

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs



The journey to predict the future: Kira Radinsky at TEDxHiriya
Torch lighter, Dr. Kira Radinsky, 
on "The journey to predict the future" at TEDxHiriya

New Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia
Torch lighter, Belaynesh Zevadia, 
Ambassador to Ethiopia


Women in Israel


Since its establishment in 1948, the state of Israel has had the image of a country in which women enjoy full equality. This image, due to the liberal and socialist ethos of the Zionist

movement, is, however, somewhat misleading. While we celebrate the stellar achievements and remarkable advancement of women in the last few decades it is important to remember that there are many areas, in which traditions, social institutions, religious rules, and even laws have kept women at a disadvantage. Read More


Women in Israel 2014

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Women in Israel: In Politics and Public Life by Naomi Chazan


Gaining Ground for Israeli Women by Prof. Alice Shalvi


Adva Center - Information on Equality and Social Justice in Israel:

10 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Women in Israel (2010)


Wikipedia: Women in Israel


Book: Women in Israel-A State of Their Own by Ruth Halperin-Kaddari


Women's Organizations in Israel 


Israel Women's Network


NA`AMAT- Movement of Working Women & Volunteers



Naamat: Then and Now  (Pay it Forward)
Naamat: Then and Now (Pay it Forward)


Yad L'isha


WIZOthe Women's International Zionist Organization


A List of Women's Organizations (in Hebrew)


Women of the Wall



Hadarat Nashim - The Exclusion of Women


When the issue of discrimination against women exploded on the Israeli scene during the winter of 2011, mixing long-simmering issues like sex-segregated busing and the absence of women from billboards in Jerusalem with new trends of ultra-Orthodox men publicly mistreating girls and women in Beit Shemesh, the phrase of choice in the local media was "hadarat nashim," literally meaning "the exclusion of women," referring to women and girls being excluded from the public domain. Enclosed a few articles about the new term and the controversy itself.


A protest against the inclusion of women organized by WIZO



Ha'aretz: Word of the day / Hadarat nashim


Forward: New Words Coined To Exclude Women


Israel Hayom: Thousands protest exclusion of women in Beit Shemesh 


Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman in a two-part article:

7 Places Where Religious Radicalism Threatens Women's Well-Being in Israel

10 Inspiring Ways That Women Are Fighting for Justice in Israel


New York Times: Israelis Facing a Seismic Rift Over Role of Women


A very personal view and the doubts about raising a daughter in Israel:

State of Her Own by Erin Kopelow and Ariel Beery


Secular Israeli women performing a dance protest against the exclusion of women in Beit Shemesh




Cartoonist Shlomo Cohen sums up the controversy with a twist on the morning blessing when men say "Blessed are you... that did not make me a woman" and women say "Blessed are you... the made me according to his will".  In this cartoon the four accomplished women say : "Blessed are you... that made me according to my will"


Independence Day Poster - 2014

Israel @ 66 - Time for Women


The poster designed for Israel's 66th anniversary reflects the annual theme.  However, the design chosen by a ministerial committee is by a man. The designer, Ofir Merav, explained in an interview that a profile of a woman is dominantly and centrally situated in the state's symbol, her hair is composed of many colors and symbols expressing the diversity of women's achievements, she is in motion and is moving forward and upward.


How do you "read" this poster? 


Do you think it successfully reflects on Israeli women's achievements?






The Scroll of Ruth - A Women's Story
Book of Ruth, Yehezkel Kimchi 1962
There are many traditions associated with Shavu'ot, celebrated this year on June 4-5. One of these traditions is the reading of the Scroll of Ruth. A number of reasons are given for this custom, among them are that the book takes place at the time of the barley harvest, that Ruth's assumption of Naomi's religion reflects the Israelites' acceptance of the Torah at Sinai, and that King David, who is alleged to have died at this time of year according to rabbinic tradition, is mentioned at the end of the book as Ruth's descendant.


The Scroll of Ruth, with women as central figures in the story, invites us to reflect on the roles of women during biblical times, their place in society, and their relationships. In a way it invites us to examine it through the same lens we use for present day women's achievements and challenges. We might even suggest Ruth as a biblical torch lighter! 


We bring you three scholarly readings of the Scroll of Ruth from a feminist perspective:


"Ruth stands for courage, imagination, and willingness to go beyond the boundaries of what's rational and sensible."


Avivah Zornberg On Megillat Ruth
Avivah Zornberg On the Scroll of Ruth



Compliant and self-effacing or challenging patriarchy?

Jewish Women Archive: Feminist readings of Ruth


Dr. Yael Shemesh

Bar Ilan University, Department of Bible and Institute for the Study of Women in Judaism

Ruth - A Women's Story

Resources for Shavu'ot
Posts by Vavi Toran, Arts & Culture Specialist:

Local Events
Jewish Heritage Celebration
Tali Almog at Arttitud

Exhibition and Fundraiser

Benefiting Israel Connection and Education efforts by Jewish LearningWorks

111 Potrero Ave, San Francisco

Love, Hate & the Jewish State 3.0

An evening of conversation & connection on Israel & Social Justice

Wednedsay, May 28, 7-10pm

Public Works 

161 Erie St, San Francisco

21 and over

More info and RSVP

Share your story. Leave the boxing gloves at home. 


Brought to you by New Israel Fund's New Generations

Co-sponsored by Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish Learning Works, The Kitchen, & Moishe House San Francisco

Tikkun Shavu'ot around the Bay   

Is it a tradition to participate in Tikkun Leil Shavu'ot, an all-night study session marking the holiday.


San Francisco: A traveling study through the California Street corridor

Peninsula: ICC of Palo Alto JCC (in Hebrew)

Peninsula: Kol Emeth

East Bay: JCC

Urban Adamah: Goat Tending & Cheese-Making



Exhibition: Wheat is Wheat is Wheat 

Ongoing until June 15 

Israeli artist and designer Peddy Mergui's exhibition exploring design and ethics. 

The Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco

More Info


Exhibit: Arthur Szyk and the Art of the Haggadah

Ongoing until June 29, 2014 
Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco


Exhibit: Moments of Presence with My Beloved by YoHana Bat Adam

Ongoing until May 29  

Reception: Sunday, March 9, 6:30-8:30 PM

Palo Alto JCC 

YoHana Bat Adam's art touches the realm of the mysterious phenomenon we call God. YoHana uses her art as a platform to make viewers more aware of human spirituality and potential.

More Info 


To Build and Be Build: Kibbutz History

Ongoing until July 2014

Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco


Summer Program in Israel for Jewish Educators

Bina - Judaism & Social Justice in Tel Aviv-Jaffa

More local Israeli events on Federation Community Calendar  

More local Israel related events on Consulate site   

Contact Jewish LearningWorks' 
Israel Education Initiative Team:
Ilan Vitemberg, Director
Vavi Toran, Arts & Culture Specialist