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
After finishing Jonathan Cohn’s new story, “The Hell of American Day Care” about the potential tragic consequences of the abysmal day care policies in the United States, it took everything I had to not get up from my desk and wrest my baby boy away from his caretaker’s arms. The fact that they were only in the other room, and I could hear him happily babbling away, kept me seated. I had a moment of deep gratitude that I could afford a nanny I trusted and had a flexible career that allowed me to work from home. But still, my chest was tight with the vulnerability a parent feels when they entrust someone else with the well-being of their child.
Cohn’s piece begins with the story of Kenya Mire, a single mother who, due to a lack of other options, put her toddler girl Kendyll in a home day care center in Houston. On Kendyll’s second day, there was a fire in the home and Kendyll and three other children died. It was later discovered that the caretaker left the children home alone with something cooking on the stove while she made a quick run to Target.
Mire’s story is a deeply powerful and devastating indictment of our messy and inefficiently monitored day care system. Though perhaps it is a little too powerful and devastating to really make, what I believe, is Cohn’s intended main point: that improving our day care system would help working parents and our economy.
Hungry for a nice steak? An advertisement for the Israeli restaurant Angus Meat may just turn your stomach.
It features an attractive, skinny woman, photographed naked with her body marked up like that of a cow chart on a butcher’s wall. Body parts are labeled: shin, shoulder, foot. Her bottom is labeled “fat.” The banner line overhead reads, in Hebrew, “Do you ever have the desire to bite a choice piece of meat?”
The full-color magazine ad promotes a pair of Angus Meat restaurants, one in Haifa and the other in Nes Ziona.
“It’s disgusting. In this day and age? They should know better,” said Nancy Kaufman, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, when shown the ad. Kaufman said she plans to send it to friends in Haifa, to see if there is any kind of local reaction to the image. “I hope they can organize a protest,” she said.
When that phrase first started to turn up in every article aimed at a female audience, I rolled my eyes at it too. There has been much conflation of the two ideas (alongside claims that Sandberg did not intend to conflate them.) But it’s clear that “am I leaning in?” has, at least for now, replaced “can I have it all?” as the issue we’re supposed to worry about.
What tipped my “you just don’t get it” frustration into full-on rage, though, was not one of the numerous news articles about what Sandberg’s book means for women in the workplace. It was this question on Ask MetaFilter, an online forum where users ask each other about almost anything and receive long and — mostly — thoughtful answers. The question, titled “Not Leaning In,” was posted by a woman with a well-paid and flexible job, a young daughter, a husband and a sense of contentment. It was the contentment that bothered her. “With all this “Lean In” stuff going around these days, I feel kind of like I should want more, but I really don’t,” she wrote. “I’m sure society can spare one woman, we don’t all have to [be] high-achieving, go-getters, right?”
According to YourJewishNews.com, Kiryas Joel’s Satmar Hasidic community has built on 283 acres on the city’s outskirts a playground that completely separates boys from girls. More accurately, the space is divided into four areas: one for fathers with their sons; one for mothers with their daughters; one for boys, and one for girls. The sections are located a considerable distance apart from one another. There are also separate walking trails for males and females.
Kiryas Joel Mayor Rabbi Abraham Wieder approved special funding for the playground, and the Committee of Modesty of Kiryas Joel, overseen by the Grand Rebbe, Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum, is strictly supervising its operation.
Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, Montreal’s largest and oldest Ashkenazi synagogue, has become the first Canadian congregation to hire a graduate of Yeshivat Maharat, the Bronx yeshiva that ordains women.
Rachel Kohl Finegold, 32, is one of three graduates of the yeshiva’s inaugural class. She will be moving with her family from Chicago to Montreal, where she will begin serving as Shaar Hashomayim’s director of education and spiritual enrichment on August 1. In Chicago, she has been the education and ritual director of the Orthodox Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation for the past six years.
Although graduates of Yeshivat Maharat may assume the honorific of “Rabba,” Finegold has chosen to be known as “Maharat,” which is a Hebrew acronym for “manhigah hilchatit ruchanit Toranit,” a teacher or leader of Jewish law and spirituality.
The five women arrested at the Kotel Thursday morning while participating in a Rosh Chodesh prayer service with Women of the Wall were released by the judge before whom they appeared in a Jerusalem court in a move described by the women’s prayer group as “groundbreaking precedent.”
About 300 women, including two members of the Knesset, participated in the Rosh Chodesh service with Women of the Wall. About 50 wore prayer shawls, according to a press release from the group. It was the first time that singing out loud was listed by police as among the reasons they detained Women of the Wall service participants.
According to this English translation of the court proceeding’s transcript, the attorney representing the police described the women as “brazenly stomping on the law” and “carrying out provocations” at the Kotel.
In court, the attorney representing the police faulted Women of the Wall for causing problems: “Each month and up until the present time, the prayer services have become more and more tense, and more and more publicly defiant, and the women arrive from the outset wrapped in tallitot and wearing tefillin on their arms, with the objective of creating a fait accompli. This causes a disturbance of the peace at the Western Wall, as well as incitement.”
Have you heard about “senior washed up girls” — or “SWUGs”? They’re the latest acronym for a sexual trend that affects Ivy Leaguers, in this case young women at the end of their college careers discovering that (either due to free will or lack of options) they do not care anymore: about grades, hookups, relationships or anything but having a good time.
Is this cool or pathetic? Or as Raisa Bruner, a student writer at, Yale put it philosophically:
Is SWUG-ness a…fuck-‘em-all, let’s-do-what-matters-to-us kind of attitude that has nothing to do with the images of lackluster sex and desperate partying that it’s grown to encompass?
I wish. Maybe it was that way once. But right now, SWUG’s social meaning at Yale remains about the hooking up that we women are — and aren’t — doing, and how little we’re supposed to let that bother us. It’s become a signifier of not caring. Alas for the golden era of SWUGs. It was over before most of us out in the real world even knew what it meant.
Yes, another long and rambling “trend piece” in an Ivy League newspaper has been picked up and analyzed, complete with a campus visit, by New York Magazine. The next link in the chain? An older Ivy graduate (that would be yours truly) sits at her keyboard trying to make sense of what the youngsters are up to these days. Is this trend ephemeral or eternal?
A young woman from a strict Orthodox family clashes with her father, leaves home and finds a home of sorts in the “Movement” — first the New Left of the 1960s, then the explosion of radical feminism out of that group’s fed-up female contingent. Her forward-thinking writing and organizing electrifies this new “wave” of feminism, but after infighting and teardowns within its ranks, she finds herself exiled and suffering from mental illness — and despite comrades’ efforts to intervene (efforts that are successful for a time), she ends up dying alone.
Pioneering feminist Shulamith Firestone’s life, as chronicled by Susan Faludi in a compelling New Yorker piece, reads like the outline of a tragic 20th century novel, an inside-out “American Pastoral” where the radical woman is the put-upon, misunderstood genius of a heroine and the domineering, “straight” male figures the ruiners of her life.
For this heroine in particular, the personal was disturbingly political. Firestone’s abuse and control at the hands of the men in her religious family led her to theorize that the family unit itself was an extension of the brutal class oppression that another brilliant Jew, Karl Marx, described, with women and children as the kept-down proletariat.
In February 1997, Ellen Jaffe Gill’ s essay on not wanting to have children, was published in Moment Magazine. In the piece, Jaffe Gill (then McClain) discussed how her decision not to have children did not prevent her from engaging fully in Jewish life. As a writer, she was in fact transmitting the covenant on her own terms.
“I don’t remember a lot of reaction to the piece in Moment,” she recently told The Sisterhood via email. “What was telling was that a few years later, I tried to write a feature story about childlessness by choice for the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles and couldn’t get it off the ground because very few peoplewould talk to me on or even off the record.”
Jaffe Gill, who entered Jewish professional life at 44 and is now a cantor and rabbinical student in her 50s, had a tubal ligation at the age of 31, “after ten years of being sure I never wanted to have a baby.”
For a very long time, I thought I wanted to be a rabbi. There are a lot of reasons why I changed my mind, but a big one is that I could not find the role model I needed — a child-free female rabbi. I knew deep down that I didn’t want to have kids, but it was so hard to say it out loud, and saying it in front of people who were committing their professional and personal lives to the Jewish community seemed impossible.
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.
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