Sisterhood Blog

Digest: Tots Doing Housework, The New Modesty

By Gabrielle Birkner

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Sisterhood Digest:

• A group of religious Israeli women, many of whom live in West Bank settlements, are touting a new approach to raising children that has five-year-olds doing dishes and sweeping floors. “Based on the psychological theories of Alfred Adler and borrowing from traditional Jewish sources, [these women] aim to fight what they see as a worrisome trend in the Western world that is producing spoiled, maladjusted children who are unable to cope with the challenges of being adults,” The Jerusalem Post reports.

• As Sisterhood contributor Elana Sztokman recently wrote, juggling work and parenting is just the reality for most women. But the juggle seems to be harder on American working parents — regardless of income bracket — than on parents elsewhere in the developing world, according to a new study from the Center for American Progress. The study found that 90% of American mothers and 95% of American fathers report work-family conflict. What’s behind those numbers? Well, the researchers say that it’s because America lacks the family-friendly policies that other countries have adopted and formalized. “Only the United States lacks paid maternity-leave laws among the 30 industrialized democracies in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development,” the report states. “… Discrimination against workers with family responsibilities, illegal throughout Europe, is forbidden only indirectly here. Americans also lack paid sick days, limits on mandatory overtime, the right to request work-time flexibility without retaliation, and proportional wages for part-time work. All exist elsewhere in the developed world.”

• The results of a recent online survey, out of London, found that women are more likely than men to blame rape victims for the crimes perpetrated against them — with many survey respondents citing victims’ attire and flirtatious behavior as reasons “that a person should take responsibility for being raped.”

• With a nod to Katie and Diane and a “take that” to Larry Summers, Barbie has two new professions: news anchor and computer scientist. Now, if only Mattel would only something about the fashion doll’s 20-inch (equivalent) waist.

• To combat the too-sexy wardrobes of children, Tablet’s Marjorie Ingall calls for a new type of tzniut, or modesty — one that takes on cynicism and materialism.

• The High School Women’s Honor Choir, composed of high school students from across the Northeast, sang the Yiddish lullaby Schlof Main Kind by Allan Naplan, about the deep mother-child bond, at this biennial choral conference in Philadelphia. The California Coastal Region Honor Choir performed this same song at the 2008 conference; view its performance here.

• A prominent Israeli rabbi has ruled against women’s prayer quorums, common during the Purim holiday, when women meet to read the Book of Esther. The Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, Yaakov Ariel — Ynet calls him “one of the leaders of Religious Zionism and a senior arbiter” says such gatherings are “against the halacha,” and that “if a woman wants to be more God-fearing and pray in a quorum — she should do so in a men’s quorum.”

• For women unconcerned with Rabbi Ariel’s ruling — and who have $21,400 to spare — a rare Scroll of Esther, written in 17th century Spain, is now on the market.


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