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New Community Building Initiative focuses on Women’s Issues; Conversations

We are daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers. We’re bright, concerned, and socially involved women. We know what our “issues” are and we often wonder what others are thinking about the topics of our time.

614 EZine in Tidewater is the newest hi-tech/lo-tech vehicle, which aims to bring women together – across age, synagogue, neighborhood, and all other artificial barriers – to talk about topics which speak to our minds, bodies, and souls.

See for yourself

So what’s hi-tech about it? 614 EZine in Tidewater uses an outstanding on-line magazine published by Hadassah Brandeis Institute. 614 HBI EZine offers readers six fresh issues a year, and addresses contemporary issues like: Jewish women serving in the U.S. armed forces; Jewish egg donation; is JDate shaking up Judaism; and what makes a Jewish family? On the surface, these issues may seem directed to a “certain segment” of the population (younger). However, HBI’s experience shows that Jewish women from all background and age groups want to know… what are the issues of our time? From the HBI website: “At a complicated time when women are donating eggs, animals are being cloned, and Hollywood equates beauty with emaciation, we must continue to probe, explore our values, and talk to one another.”

The UJFT will act as a convener of conversations in a variety of ways, as we determine what works best for our community. With a recently updated website, featuring a variety of new “bells and whistles,” we will look for ways to start or continue conversations on-line. Toward that end, we will be spotlighting guest bloggers to discuss one or more of the articles or issues which appear in new or archived issues of 614 HBI EZine. Our blog pages now give registered website users an opportunity to respond with thoughts and ideas of their own.

What about lo-tech? Well… that’s easy. Women from across the community will meet and discuss issues face-to-face, in groups large and small, just like our mothers and grandmothers did in the salons of Europe. We’re taking a hi-tech catalyst to bring us back to the basics. And that’s exactly how we kicked the whole thing off!

On Thursday, Sep 15, 614 HBI EZine editor Michelle Cove headlined the local launch of 614 EZine in Tidewater at a gathering at the Sandler Family Campus. Not just a talented writer and editor, Cove is also an award-winning documentary film maker. And to set the stage for the first of what we hope will be many conversations to come, Cove showed a “teaser” of her film Seeking Happily Ever After, which considers the questions: Why there are more single 30-something women in the US than ever before? and Are women today truly redefining “happily ever after.”

Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz of Congregation Beth El joined Cove at the podium after the film. They explained to a diverse crowd of more than sixty women (not bad for a night of torrential storms!) that not only are American women in general waiting longer to get married and start families… but that Jewish women, in particular, are waiting even longer. And they asked the women in the room a simple question: Why?

In a room full of bright, articulate Jewish women, it was no surprise that many well-considered theories and opinions came out, and conversation flowed. Women of different ages brought different perspectives to the mix. Whether considering the question from a personal point of view or from the point of view of the mother of single 20- or 30-something, each woman was engaged in the conversation. And each saw merit to the theories of the others.
There were no hard and fast answers to the questions asked or to others which arose in the course of conversation, but these days… conversations doesn’t have to end when the lights go out and the building closes. The beauty of 614 EZine is that conversations can continue on-line through blogs and eventually moderated chat room discussions, which will allow busy young moms, tired working women, and even those who just don’t like to drive at night… the opportunity to be part of the conversation… part of the community… and really, what could be better.

The 614 EZine in Tidewater program is being co-chaired by Babbi Bangel and Rachel Crockford. Annie Sandler serves on the board of Hadassah Brandeis Institute and was not only the driving force behind the national EZine, but also provided the encouragement for us to start our own uniquely Jewish conversations among women right here in Tidewater.

Want to know more about 614 EZine in Tidewater? Contact Amy Weinstein, YAD Director, at aweinstein@ujft.org or 965-6127 or Amy Zelenka, Women’s Campaign Director, at azelenka@ujft.org or 965-6139. Or go online to www.jewishva.org and take a look around. We’ll be posting new articles each month, blogging regularly, and letting you know where and when the next live salon will take place.

614 EZine in Tidewater is a community-building initiative of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. All are welcome. There is no fee to participate. No solicitation.

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