Thursday, March 21, 2013

Girl Rising

Have you seen Girl Rising yet? 

When we scheduled our campus screening with the Baobab Society, we tried to place it in March as a Women's History Month/belated International Women's Day event.  But as we prepare for Passover, I realized that the timing also has relevance for this holiday, at least for me.  You see, my mother struggled to find a family Haggadah (the book read during the seder) that told the ancient tale, but still felt relevant to her. She found one she liked well enough for our immediate family and the friends that joined us each year (our extended family is very widely scattered), largely because it used everyday English, but also because the language was a little less gendered than the version used at her childhood table.  But it still didn't quite let the gathered envision themselves in the story--which is a goal of each telling.  So, I now have Mom's collection, plus a variety of other haggadot that each have something that I like, but none I'd recommend in its entirety. 

I am now one of the friends at another family's table. They worked around their similar dissatisfaction with commercially available Haggadot by writing their own.  They used the biblical story as its basis, but  contemporizes its telling by interspersing a few jokes (Why do we call it matzah?  Well, it has little holes like matzah.), and stories of current day social justice issues--subjugation of others by virtue of ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, even dietary preferences (they have vegan, vegetarian, and carnivorous options at their table--all kosher l'Pesach).  This reminds the gathered that despite the dissolution of slavery in Exodus, and even later in the US, human trafficking still flourishes in parts of the country.  In many countries,  girls marry far too young as her virtue and fertility are bartered for her family's financial security. Rape might be perceived as a rite of passage or punishment for being in a man's world. And those that speak out against these or other practices have been subject to punishment.

Tonight, we will sing the traditional verses of Dayenu ("It would have been enough") which gives thanks for each level of assistance provided from slavery to the promised land, each of which "would have been enough" and will read new verses that bring us from that moment into our time.  We will belt out songs from the '60s peace movement, Debbie Freidman's Miriam's Song, and Tracy Chapman's Why, accompanied by tambourines and other instruments that decorate the table, enjoying food that celebrates both Ashkenazim and Mizrahi  traditions.  And when we do, I'll  think of Wadley, Senna, Yasmin and the others--and the choices that they don't yet have.  And I will once again thank this family for making history live for my child (and for my husband and I), and reenforcing the aspects of his heritage that address inclusion, righting wrongs, and building community. 

If you missed the ESF screening, please book seats at for Wed. April 10, 7:30 pm, Regal 17 Cinemas at Destiny.  Tickets ($10 ea) must be reserved  -- cards are not charged until a sufficient number of tickets are reserved, and if they don't reach that goal within the allotted time, showings are cancelled. As of this moment, they still need about 20 reservations.  This has been the fate of other regional showings--I hope this means that our local community is just not yet not familiar with this ticketing mechanism rather than disinterest in the subject.

The SU Chapter of She's the First, a not-for-profit that "sponsors girls’ education in the developing world, helping them be the first in their families to graduate"  will host SU's campus screening on Wed April 3 at 7:30 pm in NewHouse 3 Rm 141.  Other events scheduled for "She's the First{Syracuse} Week" include:
Mo Apr 1 Insomnia Cookie Fundraising --10% of all proceeds will go to STF
            Bake Sale 10-4, Schine
            Yoga Night, 7:30 pm, Archibold Gym, 1st Fl
Tu Apr 2 Conversation with Christen Brandt, STF's Director of International Operations and SU Newhouse alumna, The Herg, NH3
We Apr 3 Bake Sale, 10-4, Schine Center and Girl Rising, 7:30 pm in NewHouse 3 Rm 141
Th Apr 4 Girls+Education= Magho (Daughter) & forum on girls' education,  7 pm, HL 107.
Fr Apr 5 Bake Sale 10-4 Schine, Late Night Ice Skating, 9pm-12am, Tennity
Sa Apr 6, Dodgeball for Education, 1:30 pm, Women's Bldg Gym A, $1 spectator fee

PIH is also trying to schedule a showing at Shoppingtown on May 9, 7:30 pm.  These seats are reservable at

About Girl Rising: This feature film shares the stories of 9 individual girls--"transformed for the screen by an acclaimed writer from her native country: Marie Arana from Peru, Edwidge Danticat from Haiti, Mona Eltahawy from Egypt, Aminatta Forna from Sierra Leone, Zarghuna Kargar from Afghanistan, Maaza Mengiste from Ethiopia, Sooni Taraporevala from India, Manjushree Thapa from Nepal, and Loung Ung from Cambodia. Priyanka Chopra, Selena Gomez, Anne Hathaway, Alicia Keys, Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington and other celebrated actresses contribute voice performances to the film, which features original music from Academy Award winner Rachel Portman, in collaboration with Hans Zimmer."
The film is rated PG-13 because it deals with some of the elements of the serious issues that the girls have faced in their lives (e.g., sexual violence, AIDS, and homelessness). However, nothing graphic or explicit is shown (no nudity, swearing, or violence).  Parents should take into account the maturity of their children as some subject matter may just go over their heads. A rough cut of the film was assessed as appropriate for 6th grade and up.