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Wednesday, Mar 23, 2005, 6:37 AM EST
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PROFILE



Sheila McKenna

March 15, 2005

BARBARA DOBKIN

Founding chair of the Jewish Women's Archive (http://jwa.org), a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to discovering and preserving the rich history of Jewish women. Also the founder of Mayan: The Jewish Women's Project, a feminist initiative based at JWA. Member of the board of directors of the Women's Funding Network and Lilith Magazine (a Jewish feminist magazine), and chair of the board of the Hadassah Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Hadassah.



BIOGRAPHY

She's 61 and a native of Baltimore. Graduated from Marietta College and received a master's degree from Boston University School of Social Work. Currently runs the Dobkin Family Foundation, which funds projects for women and girls. She's married, has two daughters and lives on the Upper West Side.



IMPACT

"Women are missing from the narrative of Jewish history, as they are missing from the narrative of history in general. Many of us felt that unless there was a full story being passed down, then it was only part of a story, part of a picture. It's not just that women were missing, it's what we thought children growing up were missing by not knowing the place of women in Jewish history and what the secular community was missing not knowing the place of Jewish women in secular society. So, about 10 years ago, we started the Jewish Women's Archive, and one of our first projects, through the JWA's Mayan project, was a series of 18 posters highlighting women, some known like Emma Lazarus and others not so known, like Rose Schneiderman, a labor activist."



COMMITMENT

"If girls don't have role models, they can't begin to imagine the possibilities for themselves. And while there are role models, there are not enough, in my mind, in the Jewish community. I also believe that if boys and girls learn about what women have, and are, contributing to the Jewish community that ... stereotyping ... will stop. It's all about building respect and raising awareness."



LOOKING AHEAD

"I also happen to believe in comedy and while we're doing serious business, that we don't take ourselves too seriously. Comedy cuts across all of that. There have always been and will continue to be lots of very funny Jewish women. The Jewish Women's Archive is producing "Only Faster," a new documentary directed by Joan Micklin Silver, which tells the story of Jewish women comedians Fanny Brice, Judy Holliday, Madeline Kahn, Molly Picon, Gilda Radner and Sophie Tucker. We hope that it will picked up by PBS or HBO sometime in the near future."

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