“Can We Talk?”: The Jewish Women’s Archives Monthly Podcast

by Ashley Williams

“Can We Talk” is a podcast put on by the Jewish Women’s Archive. The JWA is an organization based in Brookline, Massachusetts that is dedicated to the celebration and documentation of Jewish women and Jewish feminism. Their various outreach programs include things like “We Celebrate,” a platform that allows patrons to pay permanent tribute to significant Jewish women in their lives, the Rising Voices Fellowship, designed to support young Jewish women interested in writing and social justice, story collecting such as the #MeToo Archive, a documentation of harassment and assault from both within and outside of the Jewish community, as well as a book club that focuses on promoting books about and authored by Jewish women.

 Hosted and produced by Nahanni Rous, the podcast, “Can We Talk” delves into both the historic and contemporary stories of Jewish women. Different episodes focus on women from various walks of life, from mothers, to political activists, to pop culture content creators, to young Jews coming of age. Formats vary from episode to episode, but most consist of a brief interview and the recording of sort of activity. The stories are both heartwarming and informative, and I feel that the best part about them is that you don’t have to be Jewish to feel connected to the stories you’re hearing (though arguably you may feel more connected if you are). While I myself am not Jewish, I cannot tell you how many times in the past several months I’ve caught myself crying or laughing out loud on public transportation while immersed in the intimate sharing that occurs during many of these talks. The podcast demonstrates beautifully the fullness and diversity of the human experience while making apparent the fact that there are struggles that all women share. I found it natural to rejoice in the stories of success and share a heavy heart with the stories of misfortune.

The pilot episode for the podcast was released January 25th, 2016, and ironically enough, was about Jewish female pilots. One pilot, Elynor Rudnick, obtained her pilot’s license in the hopes of joining the Women Airforce Service Pilots, an organization of civilian female pilots that assisted the U.S. during World War II, and the other, Zohara Levitov, flew during Israel’s War of Independence. I recall my favorite line from the episode pointing out that, “Women in the United States of America could fly airplanes before they could vote.” This quote didn’t necessarily refer to women in service, but it served as a reminder for me that women were asked to serve their country long before the country was ready to serve them. One reviewer commented about this episode specifically saying, “Your pilot is awesome—super professional—it sounds like NPR.”

“Can We Talk” is currently on its 29th episode, and I would be entirely incapable of choosing a favorite, but I can assure you they have something for everyone. During the final episode of the first season, Rous shared information from a survey revealing that the audience of “Can We Talk” actually transcends several age, gender, and religious groups even though the episodes are designed with Jewish women in mind. There are episodes about a girl who reads the Torah in Braille, Thanksgiving Seders, The #MeToo movement, Infertility, great Jewish literature, great Jewish cuisine, and even topics as concentrated as Jewish hair.

The podcast can be found on almost every platform that offers podcasts and has a five star rating out of sixty reviews on Apple Podcasts. But wait, there’s more! The podcast isn’t the JWA’s only social media presence. They also host a blog called Jewish Women, Amplified, and can be found on Facebook and Twitter. If that still isn’t enough, you can subscribe to their weekly e-newsletters !

Apple Podcasts. (2019). Can We Talk? by Jewish Women’s Archive on Apple Podcasts. [online] Available at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/can-we-talk/id1078665131?mt=2.

Jewish Women’s Archive. “Episode 1: The Pilot’s Pilot (Transcript).”<https://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk/episode-1-pilot-s-pilot/transcript>.

Jewish Women’s Archive. “Impact.” <https://jwa.org/aboutjwa/impact>.

* Image is the cover art for the podcast taken from the JWA Website