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
Last week Salon announced that Broadsheet, a trailblazer for feminist blogs like this one, and breeding ground for great feminist writers like Rebecca Traister, and Tracy Clark-Flory, was being shut down.
Salon’s executive editor Kerry Lauerman explained:
No feature in Salon’s history kicked up the amount of righteous dust and ad hominem rage as Broadsheet, which debuted in 2005 and filed its last regular post on Dec. 21. We’re immensely proud of the role it’s played raising intensely important questions about women’s issues in politics, pop culture and way beyond. For much of the last year, Broadsheet has been a one-woman show performed by Tracy Clark-Flory. She’s done a terrific job, but it’s time for her to move on to focus her attention on stories that she’s most interested in — analyses and reporting on sex, love and relationships — and stop running Broadsheet.
Jake Marmer, who writes about poetry for the Forward, is an excited father-to-be. He shares what it’s like to be an expectant dad in this piece of performance poetry, titled “Kicks”:
Marmer is working toward his Ph.D. in comparative literature at CUNY Graduate Center and developing the Jazz Talmud Project, which combines poetry and music in neo-Talmudic performances. His next performance is tonight at the Cell Theater. Information is at www.jakemarmer.wordpress.com.
I am disgusted by what someone who goes by “DLevy” has written about Debbie Friedman on the Jewschool blog, breaching basic standards of dignity and respect, and what people are sending around the Twitterverse. As Debbie’s funeral is livestreamed, people watching and posting comments are conjecturing about whether her partner will be named.
I’ve been asked to respond to this, or else never would have discussed it publicly, because Debbie would not have wanted her personal life bandied about. The privacy and dignity with which she lived her life – all aspects of her life – should be respected, not tossed aside to satisfy someone else’s prurient curiosity or politics.
Debbie was not in the closet. Neither did she ride floats at a gay pride parade. She was, quite simply, a private person. She did not shout from the rooftops. She responded to alienation and injustice through the music she wrote that changed the way we pray.
Jewish women’s head covering is once again in the news, a heated topic among rabbinic men who are obviously not afraid of a little invective when it comes to women’s bodies.
The latest item is an incendiary letter by a Canadian Haredi rabbi named Shlomo Miller. Miller was responding to a scholarly article by Rabbi Michael Broyde in the journal “Tradition” that demonstrates that head covering is not a commandment written in stone, as it were, but “merely” a rabbinic prohibition that evolved over generations and therefore has room for interpretation and flexibility.
Miller, in response, said of Broyde’s article that “all the lengthy diatribe therein is nothingness and an evil spirit,” and proceeded to compare him to “Acher,” a notorious heretic in Jewish history. So much for reasoned debate.
Broyde’s article was actually written more than a year ago, making Miller’s reaction a bit late in coming. Nevertheless, whether because Miller is a religious celebrity or because his language was so harsh, it seems that Miller’s letter is buzzing the Orthodox Jewish blogosphere.
As our previous post noted, Debbie Friedman is seriously ill and needs our prayers. She has a special place in my heart, as she does in the hearts of countless others, because Debbie is an extraordinary person with extraordinary gifts and an extraordinarily generous spirit, and she has made a remarkable impact on our lives. No one else, besides Shlomo Carlebach, has changed modern Jewish worship the way Debbie has.
With her music, written over the past 40 years or so, Debbie bridges heaven and earth. She takes text straight out of Torah, the writings of the Prophets and the prayer book, and sets them to music that is brilliant in its simplicity. The melodies are easy to learn, and the refrains usually perfect to sing in rounds. It joins those singing together in community and elevates their spirits. It’s hard to overstate the impact of being at one of her feminist seders or healing services. As you sing you can stop thinking, and just be in the prayer-songs. Your desperation, fears and sadness ride up on the wave of her powerful music and you feel connected to God, as well as to everyone singing with you. When you finally do stop singing, you find that your soul has been soothed.
Debbie, who has described herself to me as “a vessel” for God’s power, has long tried to bring that experience to as many people as she can, going to the bedside of anyone seriously ill and bringing them comfort when little else can.
Fifteen years ago today, Debbie Friedman gave a sold out concert at Carnegie Hall, commemorating 25 years as one of the Jewish community’s most beloved singers. Yesterday, Friedman was hospitalized for pnemonia. JTA reports that she is currently sedated and on a respirator.
Debbie Friedman began recording on her own label in 1972 and has since recorded 20 albums that have sold over 200,000 copies. Today, her music is sung in synagogues across the U.S. and has become so widespread that, for many, it is thought of as “traditional.” Her “Mi Sheberach” prayer for healing has become the fastest adopted liturgical melody in both the Reform and Conservative movements. This week, we sing the “Mi Sheberach” for her.
Is there such a thing as “voluntary segregation”? Apparently, the Israeli Supreme Court thinks so, according to its disappointing ruling today regarding the ongoing controversy on gender-segregated bus lines in the ultra-Orthodox community. (Previous Sisterhood posts on bus segregation can be found here, here, here, and here.)
The bad news for women’s advocacy groups and others unhappy with females being relegated to the back of the bus is that the segregated lines were not banned completely.
Instead, the Court, while acknowledging that state enforcement of segregation is illegal and speaking out strongly against it, upheld the Transportation Ministry’s official policy in which “everyone may sit wherever they want on the bus, even in “mehadrin” lines, and drivers must work to prevent passengers from being forced, through violence and other means, to sit elsewhere. However, should passengers decide to voluntarily sit according to gender, it will be permissible.”
Haredi stylist Miri Beilin blends tznius and high fashion to make modesty stylish.
Muslim women feel uniquely empowered in the United States, according to this New York Times article.
Imagine investing in a business; the partnership sours, but the freedom to begin anew depends on your ex-partner honoring his obligation to sign your walking papers.
This scenario best describes what confronts a Jewish woman when a marriage is over: a man must give his estranged wife a *get a religious divorce decree, without which she is not free to remarry under the canopy of a Jewish wedding.
Why flip a business analogy on this? Because in a marriage, both spouses bring equity and invest mutual resources of love, time and sacrifice to build a lasting relationship.
The dark side of this get issue began to surface in the 1970s, as these decrees, in some instances, became a bargaining chip to win concessions on child custody and financial support. But aside from 40 years of hand-wringing and conferences about get and the plight of the agunah (chained woman), what’s changed?
Alysa Stanton, who made headlines when she became the country’s first black woman rabbi, will be leaving her Greenville, N.C. pulpit — after the congregation that hired her less than two years ago decided not to renew her contract. Stanton said the decision to leave was not hers, and that she fully intends to serve out the duration of her contract, which expires July 31, 2011.
“I don’t regret my decision to come to Greenville,” said Stanton, who was born into a Pentecostal family and converted to Judaism as an adult. “I’ve grown to love the community, and the citizens have embraced me in a way that has been transformative.”
Stanton, 47, said the challenges that she faced at the Bayt Shalom weren’t all that different from those of any other first-year rabbi, but hers “were more visible because the world was watching.”
In a time where social networking is a large part of almost everyone’s life, many activists have found social networking sites to be a successful venue for social action.
Steph Herold is one of them. A young abortion-rights activist living in Brooklyn, Herold has worked in direct service abortion care and reproductive health advocacy, and recently discovered that Twitter was a surprising way to get women’s voices heard loudly. So loudly, in fact, that they made it all the way to CNN.
#IHadAnAbortion is a Twitter hashtag started as a new venue for women to tell their abortion stories. The inspiration, said Herold, was a blog post she read which compares the modern pro-choice movement to the gay rights movement of the 1970s. “What strengthened the gay rights movement then, according to [this blog post], were people coming out, and the general public realizing that homosexuality is more common and prevalent (and normal!) than they ever imagined. The author of the post posed an interesting question: Why don’t we do that for abortion rights? That really struck a chord with me. The anti-choice movement has tried to make abortion the sin of a few bad women. In reality, abortion is a regular part of women’s lives,” explained Herold.
This post was originally published on Jewcy, and is reposted with permission.
Best new word of 2011 (okay, so it’s early yet): “twiblings,” a term coined by writer Melanie Thernstrom to describe her two children, a boy and a girl, who were created using Thernstrom’s husband’s sperm and eggs from one donor. The resulting embryos were implanted on the same day into two different gestational surrogates, and the babies that resulted were born five days apart.
In her New York Times magazine cover story this week, festooned with the provocative headline “Meet the Twiblings” — not quite twins, but more than genetic siblings — Thernstrom details the painful experience of dealing with infertility and coming to realize that this would be the way that offered her the best chance to become a mother of two children who were about the same age.
It is the second cover story about gestational surrogacy that The Times has put on its magazine cover in little more than two years, which begs the question: Why so much focus on this relatively uncommon way to become a parent?
I was always certain that I was never going to be one of those mothers. A bar or bat mitzvah isn’t a wedding, after all. The important thing is that your child is reaching the age of maturity and reading from the Torah. It’s not about the color of the napkins, the quality of the appetizers or the fancy outfits.
Big parties just aren’t me. But then I take a look at the pictures of my daughter’s big, beautiful and undeniably lavish event last week, I think to myself: What happened?
Somehow, the same momentum took over that drove me when I planned my wedding. Except, somehow, the pressure to make this a beautiful ceremony and festive party was greater.
The 24-year-old Harvard University graduate from Brookline is the daughter of two doctors, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and a novice when it comes to pageants, but she is no stranger to competition.
Galler Rabinowitz grew up skating with her mother. She “so liked having someone on the ice to talk to,“ that at age 9 she found a partner and became an ice dancer. At 14, she won her first national title, with David Mitchell, then placed fourth at the 2003 World Junior Championships and captured the bronze at the 2004 US Senior Championships.
For the New Year, a Facebook friend wrote as her status, “My New Year’s resolution is to be Happy all Year!” That sounds lovely, I initially thought. It’s almost Oprah-ish, a vision for living one’s best life, joyously. Or perhaps it’s more like what Dennis Prager advocates — the idea that we all have a moral obligation to be happy in order to spread good feelings, rather than grumpiness, as we walk through world.
But then, I thought, maybe that’s a bit of an optimistic interpretation. I’m wondering if the “Don’t worry, be happy” philosophy that seems to be gaining in popularity actually has such a notable social-communal component. Certainly my kids do better when I’m in a good mood. But really, is that what this is all about? When people talk about the goal of living joyfully, is that a societal vision or just a personal one?
The Buddhist answer is that the only way to influence society is by changing ourselves. Since we cannot ever change another person, the theory goes, we should just focus on changing ourselves — and if the entire world did that, there would be world peace. But, with all due respect to Bu-Judaism, that is really not the Jewish answer. In Judaism, we are in fact urged to interfere in other people’s lives to change them for the better.
How does an 11-year-old girl raise nearly $9,000 for a worthy cause in just over two weeks? By tapping the power of online crowd-sourcing.
A couple of months ago, Abby Hofstetter began volunteering at the Masbia soup kitchen with her parents and younger brother at two of their four “restaurant without cash register” locations, which serve the hungry in Orthodox neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens. When it came time to decide on a chesed project for her upcoming bat mitzvah, Abby knew what she wanted to do.
At first she held a bake sale, which raised $211 for Masbia. When her mother, Sarah, a digital marketing executive, told her boss about it, he said, “If a girl can raise $200, she can raise $10,000,” Abby told The Sisterhood. “He actually just meant it as a joke, but I took it seriously. So I said ‘why not?’”
It started about two weeks ago — the instant messages while I was at work, asking me about my New Year’s Eve plans and the incessant text messages, sending my phone into a vibrating jig while I made the rounds at holiday parties. I was shocked at the extent to which the simple question, “What are you doing New Year’s Eve?” made my blood boil. I thought that this year I had the perfect excuse to avoid getting fussed up, drunk and spending money: Shabbat.
Now, I don’t mean to be the grinch of New Year’s. However, the holiday presents peer-pressure at its extreme. Almost every single conversation with friends in the last few weeks has included the words “I hate New Year’s.” One friend explained, “I can drink any other weekend”; another one asked “Mah nishtanah halyla hazeh?” Why is this night different from all other nights?
This year, New Year’s Eve falls on Friday night, the night usually reserved for festivities of a different sort, and more thoughtful conversation. Add a little champagne to the scenario, and it sounds like the perfect start to 2011 (especially when compared to finding myself miles away from home in hard-to-walk-in heels). Observing Shabbat will preclude me from going too far, spending money or using electronics.
Until I was a teenager, I had little interest in large social gatherings featuring other people, with one exception — the all-night New Year’s Eve skating party in town. This happened every year at the local rink, and I was never allowed to go. In the revisionist history in my head, everyone I knew was going to this party, and it made their New Year’s Eve, and the year that ensued, charmed. I, on the other hand, staying home and watching the ball drop with my mother, felt as though I was missing out on a pivotal experience.
I’ve always found the moment when the ball drops always manages to be both painful and unremarkable, fueled by adrenaline and dread. And when it was over, I was still the same person, standing in someone’s living room or in my kitchen. If I stop to consider it, a lot of the hype back then was about boys — if I was with one, who he was, who he wasn’t, and who I was because of him. In spite of being a black sheep of sorts, I still desperately wanted to fit in, even if I didn’t really know what that meant.
Former President of Israel Moshe Katsav was convicted Thursday on two counts of rape and other counts of sexual harassment and indecent acts by force against three women who worked for him while he was in government.
The conviction, which caps a 19-month-long trial, concludes the first criminal trial of a former Israeli president in Israel’s history.
The lengthy decision rendered by the three judge panel found that the testimony of “Aleph,” who worked for Katsav in the Ministry of Tourism and accused him of two counts of rape, was supported by new evidence that came to light during trial. The judges also rejected Katsav’s claim that he was indicted by the media, and added that he brought the media attention on himself — in particular with his three and a half hour televised rant in March 2009 following which several of his own advisers resigned.
The “rebbetzin” is a specious title. The wife of a rabbi, she gains her status from nothing more than the happenstance of marriage. Although a person seeking out medical counsel from a doctor’s spouse is likely to be met with curiosity if not an actual straitjacket, we in the Jewish community have a cultural history of affording the rebbetzin a particular status of knower or counselor. There may have been a certain historical-sociological legitimacy to this. After all, in past worlds where women were excluded from formal education and men were deemed emotional boors, the rabbi’s wife would fill in for the rabbi in all matters “feminine” — such as say, questions involving birth or human feelings.
Nevertheless, in today’s world, in which women can study and achieve their own titles, when we no longer live in shtetls and people can freely choose their own counselors, I find it odd that the contemporary rebbetzin is still considered in some circles to be an automatically qualified educator. This is particularly jarring in Israel, where the Hebrew title for rabbi’s wife, “rabbanit,” which should really mean “female rabbi,” is dubiously used by certain women to grant themselves a stature based solely on the qualification of owning this particular marriage certificate. Some of us worked for many years to attain our certifications and titles. Moreover, some of my experiences as a student of certain rebbetzins have been, frankly, less than enthralling. At this point in time, the opportunity to learn from a rebbetzin holds no particular attraction or interest for me.
My overall wariness about the educational predilections of the rebbetzin was exacerbated this week by news that 27 rebbetzins from an organization calling itself “Lehava” signed a letter calling on Jewish girls to stay far away from Arab boys.
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