Last week Jews celebrated the High Holy Days by pausing and reflecting on the past year, both personally and as a community. JWA’s fiscal calendar happens to align with the Jewish calendar and, as a result, we have been reflecting as an organization on the previous year: What have we accomplished? What have we learned from things that did not work the way we expected? What are our goals for next year? Despite the struggling economy, it has definitely been a busy and productive year for us at JWA. Looking back, we are proud of what we have accomplished in 5770 (otherwise known as FY 2010).
To celebrate Women’s History Month 2010, JWA launched On the Map, an interactive feature that uses Google Map technology to tap the democratic potential of the Internet to identify landmarks places that are important to the story of Jewish women in North America. Since then, more than 100 landmarks have been added to the map.
Throughout the year we have been working on our new social justice curriculum, Living the Legacy. This year we began piloting the first module on the role of Jews in the Civil Rights Movement. This spring, we published a new Go & Learn lesson plan called “Sing a New Song: Jews, Music, and the Civil Rights Movement” based on content from the new curriculum. In July, we held our summer Institute for Educators, funded by the Dorot Foundation, which focused on teaching the civil rights curriculum. The Institute brought together 26 educators from 14 different states and a variety of formal and informal Jewish educational settings. Jill Kaplan, a participant from Temple Or Elohim in Jericho, NY, wrote:
This was a terrific blend of educators from various backgrounds who came together and lit each other up. We learned, inspired, taught, listened, laughed and developed ideas that will benefit our students and colleagues — like ripples on a lake. This is far-reaching and wonderful!
The civil rights curriculum – which includes lesson plans, primary sources, and multi-media content – will be available online, free and accessible to all, by the end of September. We have already begun working on the second part of Living the Legacy — a module that will focus on the role of Jews in the Labor Movement.
But the education pages are not the only area of jwa.org that has new content. This year we added 28 We Remember pieces and 20 This Week in History articles. We have added 31 videos to our Youtube channel, including messages from staff, oral history interviews, and online tutorials. We used Flickr to create group photo pools and highlight content from Katrina’s Jewish Voices on its 5th anniversary. This blog has also undergone a transformation, welcoming a number of new bloggers and guestbloggers and increasing our volume from 1 or 2 posts per week to 1 to 3 posts per day! (And we still have room for more bloggers, so get in touch if you’re interested in joining our roster!)
To make sure that our existing content stays current, and searchable, we redesigned our History Makers exhibit that not only improved the look of the exhibit we used to call “Women of Valor,” but made it easier for people with disabilities to access. It also improved our search engine rankings; our link now appears prominently in Google search results; for many of our History Makers, jwa.org is second only to Wikipedia. We also gave our email communications a makeover. If you haven’t seen the new look, sign up!
This year, JWA worked with the National Museum of American Jewish History and the Jewish American Heritage Month Coalition to make sure that wherever Jewish history was on display, Jewish women’s stories would be included. We also went out in the community, partnering with other organizations to organize stimulating events, panels, workshops, and exhibits all over the country. In March, JWA led a trip to Santa Fe to explore the rich mix that uniquely defines Santa Fe’s Jewish experience.
Thanks to your support, we were able to make this past year productive and fruitful at JWA. If you are excited as we are about the year to come, please consider making a donation to the Jewish Women’s Archive. With your support, we can continue to build innovative educational tools and materials, develop new web content, maintain and improve access to existing content, and continue working with the Jewish community to shape a more inclusive future.