Gloria Steinem on Judaism, Justice and Strength
Brooklyn, NY March 27th, 2017 — “Don’t listen to me. Listen to yourself,” said Gloria Steinem at the Hannah Senesh Community Day School, a progressive, independent K-8 Jewish day school in Brownstone Brooklyn. Ms. Steinem was asked to share her best piece of advice, and she went on to explain, “each of us can be effective in ways that nobody else can be.”
In front of a sold-out audience, Ms. Steinem took part in an intimate conversation moderated by journalist and Senesh parent, Virginia Heffernan. The evening focused on the Jewish values that influenced Ms. Steinem’s life’s work campaigning for gender equality and human rights.
During a discussion that ranged from her suffragist Jewish grandmother, to the Passover women’s seders she participated in, to her thoughts about religion in general, Ms. Steinem spoke about the relationship between feminism and Judaism. She characterized Judaism as “a religion that continues to want justice on earth–and that idea of justice is contagious.”
Ms. Steinem was the inaugural speaker in Conversations@Senesh, the new Steinhardt Speaker Series at Hannah Senesh. With the support of Judy and Michael Steinhardt, the eminent philanthropists, the Series highlights the strong connection between Jewish values and modern professional achievements that continue to improve the world.
“Gloria Steinem’s work as a feminist, activist and writer closely aligns with our School’s core values of Responsibility and Perseverance,” says Nicole Nash, Hannah Senesh Head of School. “It is especially meaningful to connect Ms. Steinem’s accomplishments to her underlying Jewish values and the work we do at Senesh.”
Hannah Senesh Community Day School’s philosophy, culture and curriculum are guided by these values:
- Kindness (Chesed) — We treat each other with respect and strive to demonstrate compassion and empathy.
- Openness (Elu v’Elu) — We seek to understand diverse perspectives and accept those with different ideas.
- Responsibility (Areivut) — We take responsibility to support the well-being of others in our community and the world around us.
- Perseverance (Hatmadah) — We apply ourselves in all we do and earn the satisfaction of seeing things through, especially when the challenge is great.
- Journey (Masa) — We embrace life as a continuous journey of learning and growing.
Conversations@Senesh features leaders from all areas of public life whose careers embody the School’s values. Speakers share the drivers of their success and reflect on the particular importance of these values. The themes that emerge from these talks inspire students and families in the school’s thriving Brooklyn neighborhood and beyond.
Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer. She travels in this and other countries as an organizer and lecturer and is a frequent media spokeswoman on issues of equality. She is particularly interested in the shared origins of sex and race caste systems, gender roles and child abuse as roots of violence, non-violent conflict resolution, the cultures of indigenous peoples, and organizing across boundaries for peace and justice. She lives in New York City, and just published her first book in over twenty years.
Judy and Michael Steinhardt
Judy and Michael Steinhardt have been important leaders in Jewish philanthropy. Mr. Steinhardt, a renowned money manager closed his pioneering hedge fund two decades ago to focus on a growing passion: transforming, revitalizing and reaching those on the margins of American Jewish life. The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life seeks to revitalize Jewish identity through educational and cultural initiatives designed to spark a modern Jewish renaissance, with an emphasis on those who are on the margins of Jewish life, as well as to advocate for and support Hebrew and Jewish literacy.
Virginia Heffernan is an American journalist and cultural critic. She has worked as a staff writer for The New York Times — first as a TV critic, then as a magazine columnist, and then as an opinion writer. She has also worked as a senior editor for Harper’s, a founding editor of Talk, a TV critic for Slate, a fact checker for The New Yorker and a national correspondent for Yahoo News. Her 2016 book Magic and Loss: The Internet As Art argues that the Internet is a “massive and collective work of art” and a “work in progress”, and that the suggested deterioration of attention spans in response to it is a myth. Heffernan is known as a playful, stylish and erudite writer and she has been called “one of the mothers of the Internet”.
Hannah Senesh Community Day School is a progressive, independent K-8 Jewish school in Brownstone Brooklyn. We teach our students to: SEEK MEANING. Drawing from the rich traditions of Jewish inquiry and secular scholarship, our students learn to think deeply and realize their highest academic, intellectual, and ethical potential. BUILD COMMUNITY. Our
students and families cultivate meaningful connections within the school, with Israel, and in the wider world. We share a commitment to global citizenship and social responsibility. LEARN JOYFULLY. We approach every day with creativity, passion, and joy, and celebrate Jewish learning and life.