I loved Lenore Skenazy’s recent essay about how immersion among gentiles can make even the most secular Jew feel suddenly Jewish — and conversely, how being in a very Jewish environment can make us feel, well, not Jewish.
Then this week Phillip Roth insisted that he doesn’t “write Jewish”; rather, he writes American and regional.
The ongoing discussion about self-identification echoes deeply for me. Two years ago, I wrote for the Sisterhood about arriving at my MFA grad program in Vermont and discovering myself to be one of only a handful of Jewish students, none of whom were my age. This meant no bar-mitzvah jokes, no oy gevalts, no one asking me what I wanted for Hanukkah — but lots of kindred spirits despite the cultural divide.
As I expected I might, I taught my new friends how to spin dreidels and how to say “baruch hashem!” and I learned about their family traditions and holidays, too. I wore my first Christmas sweater, even.
• A breast cancer diagnosis brought Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz closer to her Jewish heritage, according to a Moment magazine profile of the Florida Democrat.
• Meet the Jewish matriarchs of the “green revolution.” This impressive cadre of activists are touting the likes of LEED-certified shuls, and Earth-friendly weddings and bar mitzvahs.
• Expenses related to childcare — including private nannies, daycare and preschool — are indeed tax deductible, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled.
• The fervently Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood Mea She’arim is ground zero for demonstrations for and against gender segregation on Egged bus lines that cater to the Haredi community.
• Israeli expat and Esquire-magazine darling Shirly Brener, who will appear in 10 feature films in the next year, discusses what it takes for an Israeli actress to make it in the thirty-mile zone. You can also check the Forward’s recent article on Hollywood’s love affair with Israeli talent.
• Everything you need to plan a Jewish wedding — band, dress, chuppah, ketubah — plus plenty of amusing commentary, is here.
• Formula One’s eccentric chief executive says the venerable auto race is in search of “a black, Jewish woman who, if possible, wins some races too.”