It’s pretty common knowledge that education changes lives. It opens doors, improves health, promotes gender equality, decreases poverty, promotes civic involvement and has many other benefits. This is true for basic literacy campaigns as well as sex education, access to school for girls and institutions of higher education. Yet, what is taught in addition to how it is taught matters a great deal.
In a few days, I’ll begin a new semester teaching “The Jewish Experience in Central Europe” for Anglo-American University in Prague. As a scholar, a Jew and a feminist who recently moved to Prague (in the heart of Central Europe), this course hits home. It is also timely given rising anti-Semitism in Europe. Coincidentally, this is also the first time I’m teaching a course solely on Jewish history. Continue reading “Education, Anti-Semitism, a Counter Narrative and a Different World by Ivy Helman”
I’ve admired JC for years. That’s Joan Chittister, OSB the Benedictine nun of course. I first saw her speak when I was in graduate school and she visited Yale. I’ve also read a number of her books. Her life is an example of how religious people support feminist ideals. There is a story in Beyond Beijing: The Next Step for Women: A Personal Journal that I would like to share with you
Chittister began her historic journey on the Peace Train to the UN Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. As she entered a conference room to register as a Peace Train participant, she was handed a large manila envelope. To her surprise it was filled with condoms. At first, she thought that the woman who handed them to her meant to hand them to someone else. However, Chittister was told (quite emphatically according to her) that she should distribute the condoms to the health workers she encounters while on the train and in the small towns she visits along the way to Beijing. Eventually after much thought, Chittister decided to do just that and stuffs the manila envelope into her backpack. Trying to find some humor in what she considered an awkward situation for a nun to be in she remarked, “Now all I have to do is to try not to die in front of some bishop with condoms in my backpack.”
My first reaction to this story is to laugh along with her. I am also struck by her thoughtfulness to share the story publicly. She could have been given the envelope, quietly distributed the condoms and then never told a soul. But, no. She includes the account of this feminist action she undertook in her book for the world to read. What an amazing amount of courage and integrity this woman has! Continue reading “The Need for a Positive Counter-Narrative of Religious Involvement in Feminism by Ivy Helman”