Jewish Women’s Salon closes its “Live Season” and gears up for on-line summer discussions

by | Jun 7, 2012 | Uncategorized

Janet Mercadante, Jewish Women's Salon co-chair with her daughter Samantha

Janet Mercadante, Jewish Women's Salon co-chair with her daughter Samantha

The Jewish Women’s Salon closed its “live season” with the second in a two-part showing of the award-winning documentary film Miss Representation.

The event, held on Sunday morning, May 20 at the Sandler Family Campus, again produced a good deal of rain, but also a wonderful gathering of bright Jewish women to share the viewing experience and to discuss the issues raised in the film.

Miss Representation documents the often unfair ways in which women are treated in the workplace, portrayed in the mainstream media, and diminished in the political arena. It illustrates the dangerous patterns of behavior developed among young girls and boys, which can ultimately perpetuate the disparities between the sexes.

Featuring amazing women who span the professional and political gamut—from Condoleezza Rice to Jane Fonda—the film unites its audiences by inspiring action to right the wrongs taking place today. It was shocking to learn that the U.S. ranks 90th in the world (behind countries like Iran and Afghanistan) in terms of the number and percentage of women in Congress. From Hollywood to Washington to Wall Street, women are underrepresented in power positions, and the trend, unfortunately, does not appear to be improving.

The film offers a number of resources for women to tap into, to take action and try to make a difference. The discussion following the film ranged from popular teen reading lists to speakers who teach that one person has the power to affect major change in the world. Some emphasized the importance of women getting into politics and leadership positions. Others talked about women learning to build each other up rather than tearing each other down.

Lively discussion surrounded the issue of women mentoring one another. The discussion was fast-moving and energetic, and most in the audience participated—adding to the richness of the experience.

JoAnn Dervay, Janet Mercadante, Samantha Mercadante, Miriam Seeherman, Janet Peck, and Mindy Schwartz-Katz

JoAnn Dervay, Janet Mercadante, Samantha Mercadante, Miriam Seeherman, Janet Peck, and Mindy Schwartz-Katz

Salon participant Eilene Rosenblum shared her experience of being the first woman television executive in the South, when she moved here years ago to head up WHRO TV. “… and only
because it was public television was I able to achieve that position,” she said. “Because it was a PBS station, they had a policy of having equal numbers of men and women directors.” Rosenblum went on to say (of the film): “I was glad to see on the Patron’s List at the end of the movie that there were a lot of Jewish names. The Jewish people are always on the forefront of doing the right thing.”

“This is not about being antimen,” says Salon co-chair Janet Mercadante. “This is about keeping doors open with women and looking at things in our culture that are keeping these doors closed.”

Melissa Taylor, who came with her mother and her daughters to both parts of the film had this to say: “I am so glad we could all see this, but especially so for my daughters. It instills and reinforces a sense of pride in who they are and assures them that their sex is not a limitation to what they can be. I am glad we could all be among this group full of mentors.”

Salon co-chair Janet Peck remarked that “there are little things that we can demonstrate to our sons (and daughters) so that they will not see things as traditionally men’s or women’s chores. We need to remember that we—parents—are the most important influence in our children’s lives.”

Danielle Leibovici, Salon co-chair, asked the audience to “just imagine what we, as Jewish women, are capable of. The Jewish Women’s Salon is a unique program and we want to have everyone come back together. We want this conversation to continue, to connect on a personal level and to have this group continue to get stronger and stronger. You being here is a huge statement. Bring the messages from this film, and the stories and wisdom shared here, back to your families, and the men in your lives.”

The conversation continues on the Jewish Women’s Salon online forum. In the coming months, online discussions will include current contemporary issues, taken from articles printed in the compelling Hadassah Brandeis Institute’s 614 eZine online magazine and other sources. Women in the community and beyond are invited to participate; visit to find out more and to become a part of the conversation.

The Jewish Women’s Salon is planning future community events. For more information, contact Amy Zelenka at 965-6139,

A community-building initiative of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, Jewish Women’s Salon programs are free and open to all women in the Jewish community, with no solicitation or gift requirement to participate.

by Laine Rutherford and Amy Zelenka