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Calling for Australian Jewish women’s stories of life after October 7

A new Australian writing project – a joint venture between the Lamm Jewish Library of Australia, National Library of Israel and InternationALL Women’s Day – aims to amplify Jewish women's voices, document history and build community post October 7.
Tamar Paluch
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Women protesting on flinders street station steps about sexual crimes committed in Israel on October 7.

J-United rally for hope at Flinders Street Station in Melbourne in 2024 (Image: @shanirafaeli).

Published: 1 July 2024

Last updated: 2 July 2024

“This is the time to listen to the mothers.”

These were the powerful words of Danielle Gallia-Kind at the European Parliament, advocating for her friend Yarden who was being held captive with her young daughter in Gaza at the time. Yarden’s sister-in-law still remains in Hamas captivity.

Gallia-Kind, who was pregnant while delivering her speech, cried “I have [only a short time] to make the world better again”.

Eight months on, we still hear the cries of the mothers, tearing our hearts open and yet somehow falling deaf on the ears of so many people around the world. Eight months, on we are desperate to make a world gone mad, better again.

Who amongst us hasn’t grasped for ways to make meaning after a rupture so profound in Jewish history and, significantly, in our times?

As the year since October 7 enters its final quarter, Jewish women living in Australia are invited to submit personal essays to a unique project – their reflections on this year like no other.

The essays will be compiled and archived at the Lamm Jewish Library of Australia and Israel’s National Library October 7 archive, which has been established to serve as a central repository for documents produced in the wake of the atrocities. A selection of the essays will also be published as part of the Lamm Jewish Library’s anthology series.

The rallying call of this project is “Write for your heart, Write for the future”. It is the culmination of a series of activations which have been female-led, galvanising community and transforming despair into action.

J-United rally for the Israeli hostages at Red Cross Australia HQ in December 2023 (Image: Tamar Paluch).
J-United rally for the Israeli hostages at Red Cross Australia HQ in December 2023 (Image: Tamar Paluch).

In the early months, our local community was largely consumed by the devastation in Israel. The community mobilised to support and strengthen those we knew and didn’t know.

The movement to free the 240 hostages, snatched from their homes early that Saturday morning, gained momentum with urgency. WhatsApp action groups emerged, an incredible warehouse project gave people ways to give, and nightly poster brigades plastered the faces of the hostages around Melbourne and then tended to the desecrated images – pasting and repasting over the slashes and the graffiti, over the hate and the denial.

The reality of this denial, and this willingness to be silent in the face of evil, has been the most stunning and harrowing symptom of these times. It is happening on many fronts, but perhaps nowhere as egregious as the moral inversion of human rights and women's rights organisations around the sexual crimes perpetrated by Hamas on October 7. Egregious and hypocritical.

UN Women released their campaign assets for the 2023 Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – #noexcuse, they said. #noexcuse for any violence against women – a statement betrayed by their silence about Israeli women. This was the trigger for Melbourne’s first women’s vigil, organised under the umbrella of Project A and attended by over 700 community members.

While ultimately a political statement against UN Women and other women’s organisations, attendees experienced how empowering it felt to bring women together in grief and anger and to hold space with one another.

Melbourne's first women's vigil, organised by Project A in December 2023, brought together over 700 community members (Image: Tamar Paluch).
Melbourne's first women's vigil, organised by Project A in December 2023, brought together over 700 community members (Image: Tamar Paluch).

Locally, the vitriol generated by Australian ‘feminist’ influencers towards the women of the Jewish community has been another ugly facet of life since October 7. “Zionist ‘Karens’”, “white supremacists”, “psychopaths”, “bloodthirsty”, “pro-genocide”. The disparagement of us for daring to advocate for the female hostages and for “confecting” a narrative about sexual crimes “to justify the genocide”, has been exhausting and demoralising.

From targeted doxing of prominent Jewish creatives and businesswomen to the concerted doxing disparagingly referred to as “the Zio600”, the wilful misrepresentation of what it means to be a Zionist has been a full-throttled assault on who we are and our self-determination as individuals, as a community and as a people.

As March 8 – International Women’s Day – approached, it was clear that we needed to take action on two fronts. We had to continue our advocacy for the Israeli women still in captivity, and also empower one another to take back the reins on our narrative locally.

A group of women, under the banner of InternationALL Women’s Day, came together to coordinate a multi-faceted activation. We approached prominent women and asked them to write op-eds for submission to leading media outlets – two of which were successfully published in The Australian and Women’s Agenda.

We joined forces with J-United, a grassroots group which has coordinated many successful rallies since October 7, and held a protest outside Melbourne City Town Hall to shine light on the continued captivity of 14 Israeli women. Finally, we launched a social media campaign to amplify Jewish women’s voices.

“InternationALL Women’s Day” rally for the hostages at Melbourne Town Hall on March 8 2024 (Image: Tamar Paluch).
“InternationALL Women’s Day” rally for the hostages at Melbourne Town Hall on March 8 2024 (Image: Tamar Paluch).

This campaign was meant to kick-off with a video featuring 12 prominent community women – veteran women who had been trailblazers, and are now role models; mothers catapulted to action; and young women at the beginning of their paths. However, the content was perceived as “too political”, and the project was abandoned by the professionals who had been engaged to produce it.

We quickly pivoted the campaign to the creation of an online gallery of Jewish Australian women, which continues to grow and has now seeded this writing project under the title 'A Year Like No Other'.

“This is the time to listen to the mothers.” Those words form the thread that runs through our community’s activism and the thread, or some would say the silver lining, which has brought so many of us together to elevate the cries of the mothers of October 7.

Not every woman is a mother, but every woman is a daughter and granddaughter, perhaps a sister or an aunt – and it is for all of these women that these activations, and specifically this writing project, have been created.

The world we considered safe for our children is changing dramatically and rapidly, and the sense of solidarity that we thought we shared with other women has been deeply challenged. By writing for our hearts and writing for our future, Jewish women can help each other – and our future generations – understand the profound emotional and cultural impacts of our changed world, and what we need to do to make it better again.

Anyone who identifies as a Jewish woman living in Australia since October 7 is invited to make a submission to the 'A Year Like No Other' writing project. Personal essays should be up to 2,000 words in lengths and can be in English or Hebrew.

Submissions open from 1 August until 7 October 2024. For more information, email commanthology2024@gmail.com or register your interest online.

About the author

Tamar Paluch

Tamar Paluch trained as an occupational therapist, with a focus on disability rights advocacy. Since October 7 she has been drawn back into the realm of Jewish community mobilisation and activism. She has lived in Israel, the US and is currently based in Australia.


  • Avatar of Michael Gallagher

    Michael Gallagher2 July at 08:24 am

    You are correct

    Terrible things have happened to Jewish women after October 7, but terrible things happened to the women in Gaza both before and after October 7

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