A spotlight on women in the arts

In honor of International Women’s Day, I have chosen to shine the spotlight on three young, hip female artists who are great role models to women, as well as teenagers.

Shaindel Antelis, 26 Brooklyn, New York Singer-songwriter (photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Shaindel Antelis, 26 Brooklyn, New York Singer-songwriter
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
 In today’s society, we have much to celebrate when it comes to the progress of women’s roles in business, management, politics and many other areas. Women continue to leave indelible impressions on the fabric of world history, be it Susan B. Anthony’s advocacy for women’s right to vote in America; Golda Meir, who became the first woman prime minister in 1969; or Shari Arison, philanthropist and wealthiest woman in Israel.
Today’s pop-music culture holds a strong place in the lives of today’s youth.
The music virtually flows through their veins. There is no doubt that female musicians have also taken the stage both literally and figuratively as role models for young girls. But who are these women, what are their messages, and what do they look like? Not only has the appearance of musicians changed over the years, but the messages have changed as well, and not necessarily for the better.
As a mother of three children – two of them girls aged 11 and eight – it is important to me that my daughters be exposed to the right role models and the right messages from the music world.
As a producer and co-founder of Spotlight on Women, a nonprofit organization for women in the performing arts, I have had the opportunity over the last eight years to scout and provide a stage in and around Jerusalem for more than 100 performers, meeting women of different ages, origins and religious affiliations. Many of them are just starting out, while others have extensive backgrounds in the arts.
 These women strive to lead inspired lives as they share messages of strength and resilience, bringing light into today’s challenged world. They are so committed to strengthening women that it is a calling for them. And they do not perform for men.
Here are their messages.
Shaindel Antelis
26 Brooklyn, New York Singer-songwriter
Shaindel Antelis is a singer-songwriter who aims to uplift and inspire girls and women. She has produced three albums with songs about the ups and downs we go through in life.
Role models: My parents were always very supportive in my choosing a music career. I am so thankful for that! On being a role model: It is a huge honor and a huge responsibility to be a role model for girls. When I put out a song or a video, I make sure that it has only positive messages that will be beneficial and inspiring for people to hear. Of course, life has challenges, and I want people to hear my music and feel like they can breathe a bit easier and put a smile on their face.
I want to brighten people’s day with my music.
I want to help them feel understood and that they are not alone in whatever they may be going through.
Message: I want to impart to women and girls that they are beautiful inside and out.
They have what to offer the world; they are special just they way they are and don’t always have to try to be like everyone else. Self-esteem is so important and so hard to attain, with the media always throwing images at us of what the world thinks women ‘should look like.’ Keep spreading your own personal light!
Breindy Klawansky
31, Johannesburg, South Africa, Musician
Breindy Klawansky is an Israeli-born musician who moved to South Africa when she was three years old. Her family has a rich heritage of traditional Jewish music, which has formed the basis of her musical background.
She studied music at Wits University, where she did an honors degree in visual and performing arts. She released her debut album, Hallelujah, in 2010.
As a duo with her husband, Matt, she performs for women of different ages and backgrounds. She is currently working on her second album.
Role models and inspiration: My grandmother and my older brother, Gedalia, have always supported my music. Sometimes the biggest support comes from people I don’t know.
When someone tells me that my music has impacted them, it ignites within me a strong desire to make more.
Challenges and driving force: There are no appropriate venues for us to perform in, since all live music venues in Johannesburg are for mixed audiences. It means that we generally have to arrange our own shows and essentially convert homes or synagogues into music venues.
The value of truth and authenticity drives me. The world is bombarded with distractions and quick fixes with very little depth. It is so hard to filter everything and discover what is worthwhile.
I think the youth of today is thirsting for real connection.
Message: The key is to keep creating.
Your success will come from the many hours that you invest in yourself every day. That is how you develop as an artist and as a person. You need to persevere. Be tough and strong – prove yourself and let your actions speak for themselves.
Judith Gerzi
35, Ramat Beit Shemesh, Soul singer
Rebbetzin Judith Meghnagi Gerzi, originally from London, is a wife, mother of five and business owner. She is also a soul singer and songwriter who sings in a style that speaks to many different audiences.
She is in the midst of producing her first CD and creating an inspirational show that she will take on the road.
Inspiration: My husband inspires me in so many ways, not least by helping to formulate what I say at my concerts.
I have really seen God’s hand in things, and my career really seems to be taking off. I have also been very humbled and honored to have the Biale Rebbe’s backing.
His words of encouragement have taken my possibilities to a new level.
On being a role model: I think we are all role models to one another. At least, we all need to live as healthy role models for one another. If we open up our minds to each other, we can truly learn so much and really see God’s beauty in everyone. I often say that the Twelve Tribes were all different in so many ways.
If we look around, we’re all part of the Twelve Tribes – different but meant to react and fit harmoniously.
Challenges: I think it is crucial in this day and age for women to realize how incredible they are in every way. The media seem to tell us more than ever how we should conduct ourselves. Although in my personal life I feel my family and community are quite shielded from a lot of this, there are many people who feel lost and inadequate. I believe that everything, from our body to our nature and talents, is from God. If we make the most of them and use them as they were intended, the sky’s the limit! Message: Belief in oneself is everything.
We can choose to live and put our dreams to one side, or we can choose to live our dreams!
A final note from from a coach
Jenny Sassoon, 39, from Ma’aleh Adumim, is a coach for young professionals of unleashingu.com. She shares her insights on this topic.
“The tools for your success in life are all inside of you. Get to know, love and embrace who you are and how you do things. This awareness will give you clarity about your unique path in life. Your knowledge about yourself will help you to manifest your unique qualities, gifts and strengths in the world, in your life, your career, and your relationships with confidence and success,” she says.
Here are some questions I would like to leave you with on this International Women’s Day: Who are your role models? Who or what inspires you the most? What are your messages for women and girls in today’s society? My message? Discover, develop and define who you are onstage and off, and with great role models.