Recently, the Brandeis University Outreach and Acquisitions Archivist, Surella Seelig, and the Jewish Studies Librarian, Rachel Greenblatt, paid a visit to the Jewish Studies office to acquire Director Lori Lefkovitz’s records from her years as the founding director of Kolot: Center for Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies (1996-2010), the first center of its kind at a rabbinical school (the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College), where she later held the first chaired professorship in the field, the Gottesman Chair in Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies. The records included publicity for the Center’s many innovative programs, such as a groundbreaking conference on “Food, Body Image and Judaism,” in 1997, and talks by such rising stars as Dara Horn, annual reports and meeting notes that informed the development of the website Ritualwell.org, and the program for teen girls, Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girls Thing!, as well as many publications and curriculum materials developed by Kolot and its partner organizations promoting Jewish feminism and gender studies.
The Brandeis University Archives hosts a wealth of historical materials from the 1970s and 1980s on the early years of Jewish feminism, and Professor Lefkovitz’s notebooks of organized artifacts fills in gaps in the decades of the 1990s through the early 2000’s. To everyone’s delight, Prof. Lefkovitz not only had kept copies of these materials but was happy to donate them to Brandeis, her college alma mater.
The official transfer took place on an otherwise quiet day at the end of April. For Professor Lefkovitz, it was a moment of reflection in reviewing what she and her partners had created. She expressed gratitude to then-president David Teutsch and the RRC leadership that had the vision to create the Center, the extraordinary group of women who developed and implemented that vision, and Ruth Heiges, the administrator who devotedly organized the materials during the years that Ruth supported the program and edited Ritualwell.org.