Spotlight on Women: Annie Orenstein interviews Acoustic Breezes - Rahel

Interview begins at around 8:21

   I've met Annie now a few times and have come to know her as another superwoman in today's world. She is kind, compassionate, passionate and fearless. She has, and is, a powerful voice in the community. 

   Annie is showcasing the woman of today's Israel. It is heartwarming to meet someone who seems to be following in our, the women of Tofa'ah, footsteps. Back in 1981 Yona Yacobovitch saw a similar need. Women had very little opportunity for expression (artistic and other). To fill the need she started an all-woman band. The band had a huge impact on the women in Israel to the point where schools for women in the arts were finally established. At the same time Yona and I created a non-profit organization showcasing women's talents. Tof Miriam is still alive and kicking today! 

   When I think about the treatment and attitudes towards women over the centuries it is nice to see that there has been progress. Many efforts to free us from the roles that have been imposed upon us by patriarchal societies worldwide have been met with success. Me, I'm a child of the American 1960's and 1970's. My youth, young adulthood, attitudes and perspectives were heavily impacted by the hippie and feminist movements. These movements actually did succeed in changing our lives in so many ways. For me it started out as pretty simple. Yeah, I stopped shaving my legs, went bra-less (there wasn't much there anyway!), read the feminist "holy" books & writings spurred on by the iconic leader of feminism, Gloria Steinem. Who of that generation hasn't read Erica Jong's eye-opening book on women's sexuality, Fear of Flying? Who of that generation doesn't own the sacred bible of women's healthcare, Our Bodies, Ourselves (get it here in pdf format!)? What about the required feminist magazines such as MS. and for us Jews, Lilith and the works of  Blu Greenberg

   Growing up in that era was very enlightening. What I didn't learn at home I learned by way of the movements; about caring for my female body, breaking away from stereotypical and expected roles such as going to college or getting married right after high school.  For better or worse I pursued an independent life and lifestyle following my own dreams. Women wanted respect, equality, freedom from anything that tied us to being housebound and caring for children. These are things that today are taken for granted. Instead these movements seem to have become hijacked to serve extreme political parties and their agendas. Well, that's a topic for another day. 

   Now that I have entered the world of "elder" or "sage" I can look back with the perspective and from experience of a woman into her seventh decade. When I was a teen I worked in senior homes where the average age of the residents was anywhere between 70-100. It gave me cause to ponder on how much the world had changed over those decades. I often wondered what the residents thought about their changing world. I never dared ask back then. Now that I am approaching that stage of life I AM looking back and all too often wonder about whether the "progress" we make is or is not beneficial at all? Oddly, these days one does not have to look back too far. The "new" age of electronics and the cyber-world is not that old. However, the impact on our lives in H U G E and evolving at a rapid pace. Again - a topic for another day. 

   Back to Annie and women....

   It's taken centuries but it seems that women are finally coming to the forefront. Whether we are being fully recognized for what we have to offer is yet to be seen. As a founding member of Tofa'ah I gained much as a woman: self-confidence, identity, lasting friendships, security in knowing I was part of a supportive community and more. Each generation needs to learn about and honor the work of each previous generation. Today too many women (and people!) take for granted that life has always been this "free" and "good". In reality there is still much work to be done - especially in highly patriarchal societies such as those in the Middle East and even many other so-called "progressive, advanced and civilized" countries around the world. Women are still very much second class citizens, sometimes literally tied and bound to serve men, their ambitions and agendas. 

   Keep up the good work Annie. We're still here doing our part too! 


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