Thanks to Julie & Julia, foodies are abuzz about Julia Child. Icon though she is, the story of a different sort of chef caught my attention this week. Sylvia Schur passed away at age 92 last week. Her obituary in the New York Times captivated me as I realized that this woman was no ordinary chef.
Sylvia Schur was not a stereotypical "Betty Crocker," though she did create recipes for the company. She did not wear pearls and an apron and stand in a TV studio stirring cake batter. Instead, she pioneered the modern food industry - creating the now classic recipes you see on the back of the box, problem solving with the heads of Ocean Spray, editing magazines, running a successful consulting company, and developing convenience foods for women on the go. Sylvia Schur was a creative champion of modern working women who refused to spend their days in the kitchen.
One-hundred and nineteen years ago today, Ray Frank became the first Jewish woman to speak from a synagogue pulpit in the United States. Ray Frank's story is particularly intriguing due to its complexity and the questions it raises. This was undoubtedly an important event in American Jewish women's history, but its impact is not straightforward, and thinking of Ray Frank as a heroine of the women's movement is somewhat problematic.
Gloria Steinem, a "Jewess with attitude" if I ever saw one, spoke at the OMEGA Women & Power conference on Sep. 11th. Feministing has a fewposts about her talk to check out. The theme of the conference was connecting across generations, and I absolutely love what Steinem had to say on that subject. She rebukes the misconception that young women don't care about feminism, and of course, she doesn't hold back.
I read Gabrielle Birkner's article in the Forward on the shameful lack of family-friendly policies in most Jewish organizations with disappointment, but not surprise. It's one of the well-known but rarely articulated -- except by whispering mothers, trying to figure out how to manage their jobs and pregnancies -- secrets of the Jewish community.
I have always had trouble feeling connected to 9/11. Like every other American, I remember where I was and what I was doing when I found out about the attack (high school band class), but the wave of nationalism following 9/11 affected me more than the actual event, and my memories reflect that distinction. I did not know anyone that was killed, lost a loved one, or helped in the rescue or cleanup efforts, and every year I struggle to find a personal connection to that day. This year Rabbi Irwin Kula's haunting recording of 9/11 voicemails set to Eicha trope gave me that connection, and left me holding back tears in my office.
While working on a story about the theater, I came across aninteresting, though as yet anecdotally-based tidbit: There are morefemale than male actors in New York, and the women are more talented toboot.
Today I discovered the National Council for Jewish Women of Columbus, Ohio's "Love Shouldn't Hurt" community service project, which educates high school students about dating abuse and healthy relationships. The NCJW's Love Shouldn't Hurt committee, chaired by Nancy Eisenman, has reached over 1,800 students with their teen dating abuse lecture. The NCJW of Columbus, Ohio is working to pass a bill to require all schools to include educational programs about dating and relationship abuse in the high school curriculum. I applaud this initiative, and wish there were a similar bill on the floor of every state legislature.
Inglourious Basterds has been called the "ultimate Jewish revenge fantasy," in every review and blog post I have seen. I am not interested in adding my two cents to the debate about whether revenge fantasies are "good for the Jews" or "bad for the Jews." Instead, I would like to offer a different angle on the film.
Last week I wrote about the deficit of "kick-ass Jewish women" in film, and Sylvia suggested that Shoshana of Inglourious Basterds fit the bill. Now that I've seen the movie, I completely agree. The true hero of Inglourious Basterds is the heroine: Shoshana Dreyfus, a kick-ass Jewish feminist.
In (belated) honor of Labor Day and the start of the new school year, I want to call your attention to a set of lesson plans on labor activism and communal responsibility. The lessons are based on a speech given by Rose Schneiderman, a Jewish immigrant activist, lifelong advocate for the rights of workers and of women, and powerful orator.