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Shana Penn

Thursday, April 7, 2005, 5:30 PM

Jewish Museum, Scheuer Auditorium
Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, New York, NY
Admission: attendance is free with Museum admission, Tel: 212.423.3200

As an echo of the legendary salons hosted by influential Jewish women to promote progressive change and to nurture such artists as Mendelssohn, Proust, and Picasso, and as a complement to the Jewish Museum's new exhibition, "The Power of Conversation: Jewish Women and Their Salons", the Museum and the Jewish feminist quarterly Lilith have organized two evenings of readings and discussion with noted authors, called Salons Live, with Lilith editor Susan Weidman Schneider moderating. One of the guests on April 7 is noted feminist scholar/journalist Shana Penn, who will discuss her new book, Solidarity's Secret, on the little-known role of women in Poland's democratic opposition, especially in running the underground press that was crucial to sustaining the spirit and mission of Solidarity during the period of martial law. Joining Shana Penn will be novelist and culture commentator Nessa Rapoport to discuss her memoir, The House on the River.

Solidarity's Secret is based on interviews with the women behind the Polish pro-democracy movement - women whose massive contributions were obscured by the more public successes of their male counterparts. It tells how these brave women ran Solidarity and the main opposition newspaper, Tygodnik Mazowsze, while prominent men like Lech Walesa, Adam Michnik, and Zbigniew Bujak were interned or in hiding during the 1980s martial law years. Many of these women went on to play influential roles in post-communist Poland. The book was first translated into Polish and published as Podziemie Kobiet (An Underground of Women).

Shana Penn, a well-known feminist and writer, is an Open Society Institute fellow and visiting scholar at Mills College's Women's Leadership Institute. She directs the Jewish Heritage Initiative in Poland, a philanthropic program of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture, based in San Francisco. Ms. Penn, a longtime contributor to the electronic newsletter SIEC, is a former chair of the Network of East-West Women.

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