According to a press release distributed several months ago, HBI was bent on sparking "conversation among Jewish women" via 614, which promised to "dive into heated and controversial topics including the ethics of selling our eggs, why Jewish women are now notably in charge of religion for their families, and the new books that are changing how Jewish women see themselves."
Rather than have a single writer expound upon such issues, the eZine would present a number of perspectives "from artists and activists, observant and secular Jews, and scholars and authors around the world who are analyzing cutting-edge topics."
According to the press release, the idea for 614 came during an HBI board meeting. Staff members and the board of directors were interested in publicizing the innovative work the institute does, as well as tackling other hot-button issues in the Jewish community in a manner that might engage "a new audience of often disillusioned Jewish women in their 20s, 30s and 40s." The goal: to create "a non-intimidating environment to learn, share and explore ideas," and the Web seemed the perfect place.
As 614 editor Michelle Cove explained, "I wanted to offer a space where Jewish women could learn about topics that affect their lives, without imposing a specific agenda. 614 will offer multiple viewpoints and let readers come to their own conclusions. Or, even better, readers will be left with questions and go digging for even more information."
The first issue of the eZine, for example, considered "The Surprising Power of Jewish Names," and whether birth names influence the course of our lives. Rabbi Benjamin Blech discussed how Abraham and Jacob wound up with new names in the Bible. Elizabeth Mark told the story of how she chose new names to influence her health. And Shulamit Reinharz described what it was like to grow up as "Shula" in a New Jersey town devoid of Jews.
The current issue is devoted to Jewish egg donation and offered five perspectives on the subject. The first article discussed exactly what happens from the moment a woman decides to become a donor up until the point she receives her final payment.
Larissa Remennick then examined what she called the "Israeli egg scandal," and how "two greedy Jewish doctors left Israeli women nervous about donating." An anonymous young women contributed her thoughts on the ups and downs associated with egg donation. There was also a look at an agency that matches American women who need eggs with Israeli donors. And the final article considered what Jewish tradition has to say about the ultra-contemporary matter of egg donation.
To read the articles, go to: www.brandeis. edu/hbi/614.