Anti-Semitism In My Own Back Yard
Being A Mom in the Midst of War
Hanukkah's Hottest Hebrew Hotties
Jews Far More Promiscuous Than Muslims
What Makes A Family?
Why I Screened Myself for Breast Cancer Markers
Police Shackle Anat Hoffman
Defending Michelle Obama's Arms
Why I'm Nostalgic for Hasidim
What's Wrong With Modern Dating?
The Case for Premarital Sex
When DIY Was More Than DIY
Sisters in Skivvies: A Graphic Review of 'Unterzakhn'
Chabad 'Likes' Facebook, But Not for Girls
Meet the 'First Lady of Fleet Street'
Video: Meet Chaya Mushka, Yet Again
'Raising a Bilingual Kid Is Harder Than I Expected'
Nir Hod's Anguished 'Mother'
Attachment Parenting's Star Evangelist
A Male-to-Female Jewish Journey
How Men Cornered the Baby Manual Market
Bubbe Cuisine Goes Local
Editorial: Defending Contraception
Should You Be Blogging Your Baby's Illness?
Video: Where Fashion Is Frum, Not Frumpy
The Case for Jewish Daycare
Saying Farewell to Filene's
The Bintel Brief Takes Comic Form
Editorial: Where Are the Women?
Video: Mah Jongg's Jewish Journey
Podcast: Adrienne Cooper's Musical Life
America's Most Influential Women Rabbis
I’m super glad that these fraternity boys at the University of Maryland wrote this letter to their brothers about how to talk to Jewish women, because otherwise, I would not have known how! Also, apparently I’ve been talking to myself and other Jewish women the wrong way this entire time.
The guys’ egregious “instructions” are divided into sections, including “hometown,” “major” and “topics of conversation.” Here’s a hint of what they think it takes to talk to a Jewish woman:
If from an allowed hometown you are fine. If not, lie and say you are from an allowed area. Note: DC is a toss up area, as is Vermont.
Areas you can be from: New York, New Jersey, PA (only Philadelphia area, sorry redacted), Massachussets, Rockville/Bethesda area, Pikesville
Not Allowed Areas: The rest of Maryland (especially rural counties, looking at you redacted), Baltimore, Atlanta, anywhere in the south, Connecticut are from an allowed area. Note: DC is a toss up area, as is Vermont.
On a college major…
You are a business major or an econ major or a communication major
You want to “do something with business, maybe finance” or start your own business
Alternative 1 to that: Some science major, but you are going to med school to be a doctor (why? because both your parents are doctors)
Alternative 2: You are a crim major and plan on going to law school
In summation: No matter what, do whatever you have to do to create and maintain the aura of wealth. Sadly, this letter isn’t a joke.
Dancing with the Stars loves their theme weeks, and this week didn’t escape unscathed. The contestants were asked to do dances that tied in with “The Best Year of My Life.” While that’s actually a pretty decent theme for a dance, the celebrities still have to work within the constraints of the show; if you’re assigned a super sexy dance but your Best Year is about, like, recovering from cancer or giving birth or something, you have to somehow make it work. Luckily, Aly and her partner Mark Ballas were assigned Contemporary for this week, and that style is pretty open and malleable.
Unsurprisingly, Aly chose 2012 as the best year of her life, because it’s the year that she won two freaking Olympic gold medals. “Aly was the underdog,” Ballas said to the camera. “No one thought she would place.” Their song is one that Aly picked: “Titanium” by David Guetta and Sia. The lyrics, which Aly says she listened to all the time when she was working out in the gym, are pretty standard pump-up fare: “I’m strong, and no matter what you do to me I won’t give up.” Contemporary dance, unlike a lot of other styles on this show, allows fancy lifts, so I expected to see quite a few of Aly’s signature gymnastics moves repurposed into this dance.
Last week, I wrote a piece for TODAY.com about a man in Chicago named Jason Methner, whose incredibly elaborate proposal to his now-fiancee involved an original kids’ book and some collusion from the Chicago Public Library. While most of the comments on the article were positive, quite a few people were unhappy. However, it wasn’t the proposal itself they were angry about — it was the barrage of attention paid to the story, particularly on social media (the Chicago Library had requested permission to post photos of the proposal on its Facebook page, which helped the story go viral).
“It’s bad enough that this guy has to ruin marriage proposals for everyone else,” one guy fumed to me in a personal email, “but they’re just doing it for attention and you’re giving it to them.”
Now that Pinterest and Facebook have turned wedding planning into a competitive public sport, it seems only logical that marriage proposals would follow. It’s increasingly common for couples to have the moment itself photographed, leaving them with dozens of pictures of the man down on one knee and even more close-up shots of the ring.
Think it’s no big deal that President Obama called Attorney General Kamala Harris the best looking Attorney General? I didn’t. Sure, I thought that it was an irritating reflection of sexism but not a big cause for banner waving. I particularly felt this way because of the outcry’s implicit condemnation of, well, me. Perhaps I too often make comments about the appearance of others, particularly those I see as interesting or attractive. I also believe that the affirmation of a public and powerful African-American woman’s beauty remains a novel and positive development in our screwed up racist culture.
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t important to gently call out the President and seek an apology.
Now we have empirical reasons to explain why these words, mild as they were, were wrong. A study released by the Women’s Media Center’s Name It/ Change It campaign today indicates that any attention — any at all — to a female political candidate’s appearance damages her standing. (Full disclosure: I’ve received media training from the WMC.)
Princeton University alumna Susan Patton didn’t intend to become a household name, but by Sunday the tsumani of responses to her unwittingly inflammatory letter in the Daily Princetonian, the school’s student-run newspaper, peaked with an op-ed column in The New York Times devoted to her advice to young Princeton women to “find a husband on campus before you graduate.”
Patton, who described herself to me as “a Jewish mother,” has one son who graduated from Princeton and another who is a junior (and acquaintance of my son, also a student there). For more on her point of view, read this Q&A with Patton, from an interview she kindly agreed to with The Sisterhood.
Susan Patton, a human relations consultant and Princeton University alumna, as well as mother to two Princeton students (one former, one current) recently wrote a letter to the editor of the university’s student-run newspaper. In it, she urged female undergraduates at Princeton to find their husbands before they graduate. And in doing so, she sparked a world-wide response. In newspapers, magazines, on websites and other blogs, and on the Op Ed page of The New York Times, people weighed in. Most of them criticized Patton; some for her tone, many for her point. Patton, who lives in Manhattan and is currently the president of her Princeton class, has been inundated by the press. But she graciously agreed to be interviewed by The Sisterhood.
Like virtually everyone else with a connection to Princeton (my son is a student there, and also an acquaintance of her son’s), I had my own feelings about what she wrote in The Daily Princetonian. But that is fodder for a different Sisterhood post, which will run separately. This interview with Patton, which I lightly edited and condensed, was conducted as a journalist and not to convey my own point of view.
Those of us who have made it our business to achieve gender equality by way of parenting, have long pushed for better paternity leave policies. Quite simply, it is the right thing to do. But it looks like it’s also the economically prudent thing to do, too.
The New York Times magazine had a story this past weekend on how paying daddy while he stays home to take care of his baby can actually stimulate the economy.
To make her case, writer Catherine Rampell refers to a new study by economists at the University of Chicago and Stanford that estimate that “15 to 20 percent of American productivity growth over the last five decades has come from more efficient allocation of underrepresented groups, like women, into occupations that were largely off-limits, like doctors or lawyers.”
She explains that other rich countries have figured out how to keep women in the labor force, mostly through adopting policies that allow parents to request flexible work arrangements (part-time, home-based), guaranteeing paid leave for both sexes, and, in some cases, affordable childcare. While these policies do increase taxes, they ultimately pay off because they keep women in the workforce — the very same women who help our productivity grow.
This is the first post in a Sisterhood series by Nina Badzin on gadgets, family and work.
On the Shabbat afternoon before Passover, I received a frantic voicemail from a friend who had texted me an important question earlier that morning. She was worried (and annoyed) when I had not texted back by noon.
Was I mad? she asked in her message. Was I injured? Was something wrong with one of the kids?
Sadly, I understood her exasperation. I usually text back quickly, on Shabbat or otherwise. It just so happened that on this particular morning, I was at the beginning of what I’m calling My Passover-Inspired Phone Experiment. Why put myself through such an experiment? I decided it was time to rescue myself from the stronghold of my iPhone.
Legal abortion could become a thing of the past in a handful of states if anti-choice efforts are successful. Note that I don’t say abortion will become a thing of the past, because the need for abortion will persist, but safe and legal abortion will be outlawed as a spate of new state-level laws curtail the procedure and shut down clinics.
For several years, as we’ve documented here at the Sisterhood, the anti-choice movement in the U.S. has been trying a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” technique. This flurry of uterus-focused activity got its own nickname: “The War on Women.” In reality, these unnecessary and intrusive health rollbacks hurt more than just one gender, and the “war” part didn’t stop when the catchphrase fell out of fashion. Some measures passed, others were modified, and now the assault on rights has ratcheted up again.
Unlike my mom, who loves to “b’sheret” everything, I don’t tend to make a big deal of coincidences. But one happened this week that is worth a Sisterhood mention.
My mom had been going through some old boxes when she discovered the newspaper clipping of the Challenger disaster. “You wouldn’t let me throw it away,” she told me over the phone. “You were even a little meshuggah then.”
The next day I saw a Facebook update from the Jewish Women’s Archive about Judith Resnik, the only female, and Jewish, astronaut aboard the Challenger. Resnik, who was born on April 5, 1949, grew up in Akron, Ohio, where she attended Hebrew School and kicked butt in math and science from a very early age. She studied to be an electrical engineer and hadn’t thought much about joining the space program until NASA sought her out through a recruiting program for women and minorities. (Go quotas!) She joined in 1978, and in 1984 she became the fourth woman in the world to go to space. Two years later, she died. She would have been 64 this week.
Outcry from Jews in Israel and the Diaspora has led the rabbi in charge of policies at the Kotel to back down from his plan to have women arrested for saying Kaddish, says Anat Hoffman, chair of Women of the Wall.
At a meeting Thursday with Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch “assured Sharansky that, contrary to the letter [sent by Jerusalem police chief to Women of the Wall], no woman would be arrested for reciting Kaddish at the Western Wall.”
The Jewish Agency made that announcement by posting a note on its Facebook page, which was illustrated with a photo of young women praying at the Kotel.
After The Sisterhood broke the story Wednesday of the police chief’s letter indicating that women would be arrested and charged for saying Kaddish, as well as wearing a tallit, it was covered extensively by the Israeli media, Hoffman said.
The connection between Dr. Martin Luther King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel is one that I learned of during my conversion process. When only one month a year is given to Black History, certain events are sure to be left out. While my parents did an amazing job sharing their personal insights and memories of the Civil Rights movement, much of my learning happened while studying Black History in college. Still, it wasn’t until I started studying Judaism that I learned about the partnership between King and Heschel.
On April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King opened his “Beyond Vietnam” speech at Riverside Church in New York City by welcoming Rabbi Heschel.
“I also want to say that I consider it a great honor to share this program with Dr. Bennett, Dr. Commager, and Rabbi Heschel, and some of the distinguished leaders and personalities of our nation.”
Add Kaddish to the list of Jewish prayers and ritual objects women are not allowed to be engaged with at the Western Wall, according to the commander of the Jerusalem police.
In a March 14 letter to Anat Hoffman, chair of Women of the Wall, Yossi Pariente wrote that he met with a deputy attorney general for the government of Israel to go over the rules pertaining to Women of the Wall, which include prohibitions on:
…Wrapping yourselves in tallitot [prayer shawls], holding a minyan [prayer quorum] of women including the Kaddish or Kedusha prayers, and reading from the Torah.
Pariente warns that, starting on the next Rosh Chodesh, which falls on April 11, Women of the Wall will be arrested and charged with breaking the law for doing any of these things.
Dancing with the Stars is no stranger to cheese, and this week the show laid it on thick its theme: Prom Week. Because of her age, Aly Raisman looked somewhat less ridiculous than, say, Wynonna Judd did in her poufy dress, but it was still kind of a cornball way to come up with a dance. And when your dance starts with a woman in a Cupid outfit shooting arrows into you and your partner, “cornball” is definitely a fair word to use.
This week, Aly and her pro partner Mark Ballas danced the Viennese waltz. This is one of my favorite ballroom dances, because it involves a lot of fluid motions and dancing in hold — that is, connected to each other rather than breaking apart and doing parallel moves. I was nervous about how Aly might do with such a fluid dance, considering that what won her a gold medal for floor exercise was her tumbling, not her grace.
Anyone who’s been pregnant, or knows someone who’s been pregnant, has probably been exposed to the terrifying list of dos and don’ts that accompanies bringing a child into the world. It’s bad enough to be deprived of wine, imported cheeses, wine, smoked salmon, coffee, and did I mention wine? But the most frustrating thing is that these dos and don’ts often contradict each other, which is the whole point of a recent Jezebel post about how to have the best pregnancy ever.
Take fish, for instance. Women are told to eat a lot of it during pregnancy, but they are also told not to eat too much because of dangerous mercury levels. And then there’s the question of alcohol — some doctors say an occasional glass of wine is fine and possibly even beneficial if it decreases stress levels, while others make pregnant women feel as if their babies will be born with an extra limb if they have a single sip. The same goes for drinking coffee. Many doctors and researchers say it’s perfectly fine to have one cup a day, but they also remind us that drinking coffee during pregnancy doubles the risk of miscarriage.
In other words, trying to do the right thing during pregnancy is an exercise in madness, and it will probably result in tremendous anxiety — which, of course, is not good for the baby.
A new online PSA warning from Children of Street, an organization in British Columbia dedicated to preventing the sexual exploitation of children, warns young women of the potential negative consequences of sending nude self-portraits, or naked “selfies,” to their boyfriends or crushes. In the video, a young woman flips through placards which say, “I sent a photo to someone I trusted and now, people I don’t know, know me.”
Over at Jezebel, Laura Beck points out that this video fails to put the onus on the dude who sent her photo around. I agree.
I looked on the organization’s website and there doesn’t seem to be any parallel placard video in which a young man shares his experience of sharing a photo a young woman sent him, or of having had his picture shared. I imagine that in many of these cases there is shame and regret on behalf of the guy, and hearing their stories might be valuable, too.
The Sisterhood has covered Haredi exclusion of women from the Israeli public sphere for some time now. When it comes to the removal of women’s images from public view, we’ve seen the disappearance of women from advertisements; the photoshopping of female leaders like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton out of news photos; the blurring of women’s and girls’ faces on memorial notices and even the erasing of a pair of women’s shoes from an innocuous photo of a family’s shoe drawer.
But now this practice has reached a high — or, rather low — point with the blurring out of the face of a woman in a Holocaust-era photo. Ynet reported that the Haredi newspaper “Bakehillah” (In the community) censored the face of Matilda Goldfinger, the woman who appears to the left of the little boy wearing a yellow star with his hands raised in the iconic photo documenting the final liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto in May 1943, following the Jewish uprising there that began on the first night of Passover that year. Goldfinger’s daughter Henka (Hannah) was killed moments after the photograph was taken.
It’s no surprise to voracious readers of female-authored fiction that the magical realism genre has flourished by the pens of the fairer sex. Readers with some enthusiasm for the genre may associate it with women of color in particular. For example, there’s Isabel Allende and Laura Esquivel, following in the Latin American tradition of Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Alice Walker and Toni Morrison incorporating folklore into African-American fiction.
It isn’t hard to think of Jewish men who weave mysticism and fantasy into their works, either — Isaac Bashevis Singer, Jonathan Safran Foer, Bernard Malamud and Franz Kafka. But the Jewish women of this genre are not as well known, though they are certainly present. Jewish studies and comparative literature students — you’ve got an enormous body of work to sift through from around the world to create compelling academic theses, and for everyone else, there’s a place on the couch waiting for us to curl up with one of these fabulous stories.
Here’s a list of eight female Jewish authors and their Jewish-themed magical realism novels, with just a bit about each book. This list is not comprehensive, of course, so please share your favorite authors in this deep and growing category.
I’ve never given much thought to Jehovah’s Witnesses. I also have a knack for avoiding them on the streets of New York as easily as I can dodge canvassers in Union Square. I don’t open my door for them, and after dating an ex “Jdub” I was pretty sure they were a religious group I just couldn’t quite understand.
All that changed this past Saturday. I was waiting for deliveries from Fresh Direct, FedEx and USPS and, when the doorbell rang, I flew down the stairs and flung open the door expecting to see a courier. Instead, a girl about seven or eight years old reached into her purse and pulled out a pamphlet with an earnest looking, fair-skinned, long-haired drawing of Jesus on the cover below the words “Watch Tower.”
I’d opened the door for Witnesses.
Once, I went to a job interview on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in a fancy office building. On my way out, I noticed a Weight Watchers office on the same floor. I was so provoked by yet another message that people should be skinny — that if you are skinny, you are in control and will get everything you deserve, because skinny equals all things moral, happy and good. But in that moment, I held back. I didn’t even take out the Post It notes and marker I carry around in my purse so that I can place notes on advertisements in the subway that are sexist, racist and homophobic. Instead, I growled, then kept walking.
A recent New York Times article profiled the United States introduction of Slim Peace, a nonprofit organization that brings Israeli and Palestinian women together around the universal theme of weight-loss support. The group has plans to expand around the country, meeting in the context of eating well, losing weight and learning about Israeli, Jewish, Arab and Palestinian cultures.
My reaction to this project is complicated. I don’t want to yell like I did at that Weight Watchers office — or at the weight loss ads that populate the margin of my Facebook page. But there is something deeply wrong here.
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