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Kalechofsky, Roberta. (Born 11 May 1931, Brooklyn, NY). Writer and publisher, "Historian of Ideas," founder of Jews for Animal rights (JAR), recipient of literary fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Council on the Arts.

A Jewish feminist, Roberta Kalechofsky's work profoundly impacts upon and interacts with the animal rights and related justice movements through her past involvement in the Small Press Movement (through Micah Publications, which she founded in 1975), Branching Out (Canada's first feminist magazine she helped co-found), and Jews for Animal Rights, which she "founded [in 1985] to promote Rabbi [Abraham] Kuk's vision ['of Vegetarianism and Peace']… 'to make known the tradition of tsa'ar ba'alei chaim in Judaism.'" To this end, she is also actively involved in helping to lead the new Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians http://serv.faithweb.com.

Tom Regan, another leading animal rights philosopher (a NCSU philosophy and religion chair), thus learned from her "broad and deep," "copious mind… the relationship between the objectification and exploitation of women on the one hand, and animals, on the other," which he proceeded to detail in "The Thee Generation," which noted ecofeminist Carol Adams says "build[s] on feminist theory… [by] ambitiously challeng[ing] progressive feminist philosophy to acknowledge animals' moral standing, while demonstrating how patriarchal moral theories have concealed the legitimacy of caring." (In it, Regan also addresses the Judaeo-Christian tradition in his conclusion "Christians Are What Christians Eat.")

He says of Ms. Kalechofsky, "[o]f all the historians of ideas with whom I am familiar, if I had a choice between listening to just one of them, I would not hesitate to choose Roberta. She is that good, that worth spending time with."

Ms. Kalechofsky's work has also branched into seven works of fiction, observing Jewish life in this and other centuries (translated into Italian); two collections of essays; a prose-poem; and a monograph on George Orwell. Among numerous other publications, she has examined "Biblical Dimension of Modern Literature" in "The Enduring Legacy" (1975); has born "Witness to the Holocaust" (1991); and featured in "The Best American Short Stories" (1972) as well as, significantly, "The Woman Who Lost Her Names: Selected Writings by American Jewish Women" (1980). Her fiction work has been included in college curricula, in Italy as well as America.

As is evident then, Regan is precisely correct when he notes that Roberta is the consummate scholar, among the most disciplined learners and thinkers. With a quick mind and a tireless will, "she truly serves as an inspiration to all of us who aspire to make our ideas clear—and to make them count." (For this reason it would be exceedingly difficult for "anyone to find Roberta boring. Just the opposite. Hers is the talent of one who knows how to push the minds of her listeners beyond their normal boundaries. Small wonder that those who hear her find the experience exciting and rewarding.")

Born, raised and educated in Brooklyn, NY, Roberta Kalechofsky was honored in Bari with dramatic professional readings from her novel, "Stephen's Passion." She edited and published the Echad series, five anthologies of Jewish writings from around the world. As an animal rights activist and vegetarian, Ms. Kalechofsky is a noted writer and speaker on both subjects. Yet her chief contribution to Jewish life lies predominantly in her fiction; the founding of Jews for Animal Rights; the publication of two vegetarian haggadot; the popular "Jewish Vegetarian Year Cookbook"; and "Vegetarian Judaism—A Guide for Everyone."

Roberta has taught at the University of Connecticut, Brooklyn College, Salem State University, and Hillel in Swampscott, MA. A founder of Micah Publications, she was active in the Small Press Movement, as contributing editor to Margins, A Review of Little Mags and Small Presses. She participates in readings of fiction on college campuses as well as talks and readings at Jewish Community Centers, Holocaust conferences, temples, and the Association of Jewish Studies. She was also contributing editor to, On the Issues, a feminist periodical.

Further honours include being cited for Distinctive Writing in Best American Short Stories of 1976 and 1977 as well as Literary Fellowships in Fiction from National Endowment for the Arts and Massachusetts Council on the Arts; publishing grants from National Endowment for the Arts and Massachusetts Council on the Arts; and honorary membership in Israel Bibliophile Society.

Selected bibliography:

The Jewish Monthly, Penny Kaganoff, "An Independent Woman of Words," 1988.

Dictionary of Literary Biographies, "American Jewish Writers," vol 28, ed. by Daniel Walden, 1984.

Judaica Book News, "The Evolution of An Independent Publisher," 1983.

Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 17, 1976.

Gale's Encyclopedia of Contemporary Authors

Coda's Directory of Fiction Writers

International Who's Who Directory of Writers

International Directory of Independent Scholars

The Washington Post, Aug. 30, 1976

The Lynn Item, Nov. 7, 1975

Dictionary of Literary Biographies, vol 28, Jewish Fiction Writers.

Autobiography of A Revolutionary: Essays on My Life as an Animal Rights Activist. Marblehead, MA: Micah Publications, 1991.

Nathan Braun

© 2002 Women In Judaism Inc.
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