Fifteen years ago this week, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the second woman - and the first Jewish woman - to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Considering that of the court's 110 justices, 7 have been Jewish and only 2 women, Ginsburg's appointment was no small feat.
The ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract, is one of the oldest continuously used documents within Judaism. That said, over the course of the past thirty years or so, many ketubahs have undergone a makeover so that rather than simply act as a business document that lists the items in the bride's trousseau and the amount of zuzim (silver pieces) that the groom has to set aside for her well-being, many contemporary ketubahs reflect the equal partnership that the marrying couple are entering in to.
Usually, we have used this space to review new books (see recent reviews of The Book of Dahlia, Away, and The Zookeeper's Wife), but I can not let the opportunity pass to write a bit about Amy Bloom's non-fiction book, Normal, which was first published in 2002. I had initially put Normalon the Jewesses with Attitude Summer Reading List as a whim - an aside, even, just something to accompany my reading of Away if I decided that I liked Amy Bloom. I liked Away a lot, and now, having read Normal, I like Ms. Bloom so much more.
The first Olympics I remember well were the 1988 Summer Games, held in Seoul. We were sitting shiva for my grandfather on Long Island. I remember my sister and I lying on our grandparents' bed (my grandmother always had pink satin sheets) and being completely mesmerized by the tiny female gymnasts as they tumbled across the floor. To my knowledge, none of those women were Jewish (Kerri Strug made her debut in 1992, and the Israeli gymnasts who competed in 1988 likely did not make it to American television), but American Jewish women have made a strong impact on the Olympic Games over the past 100-plus years.
Those of you whose lives don't involve a weekly update on what new comics have come out this Wednesday might not be familiar with Y The Last Man, a 60-issue comic book (10 volume graphic novel), whose much anticipated final issue just came out last month. The premise of Y The Last Man is that a mystery plague instantaneously wipes out every man and male mammal on planet Earth except for Yorick Brown, a 22 year old magician/slacker, and his capuchin monkey, Ampersand.
I made the mistake of picking up The Zookeeper's Wife and reading it as though it were a novel. Maybe I was just in that headspace because the first two books on the Jewesses with Attitude Summer Reading List were fiction. The Zookeeper's Wife, however, is a genre-bending piece of prose that defies the conventions of history, memoir, and naturalist writing, all of which it employs.
Pretty much since moving to Boston last summer, my friends have been making weekly pleas that we watch Mad Men on AMC. It took until last week, because in spite of critical acclaim and the insistence of friends whose opinions I trust, who wants to watch a television show about an advertising agency? (Of course, by that logic, who wants to watch a show about a paper sales office, NBC corporate headquarters, or a misanthropic doctor?). But I was wrong, wrong, wrong to delay! Why? Because aside from a smart script, good acting, etc.
I just came across a fascinating series in Slate, challenging the science of sex differences. (It happens to be written and edited by two brilliant Jewesses - Amanda Schaffer and Emily Bazelon - whom I am privileged to know.) Schaffer and Bazelon take on what they call the new "sex difference evangelists" and offer powerful, data-driven rebuttals to their arguments on sex differences in the brain.
Last week, I got an e-mail from a Jewish Women's Archive member, which was, in part, an ode to Sara Blum, the founding director of Camp Navarac in the Adirondack Mountains. And, since it's July and since I spent last weekend with my band of camp friends, I'd be remiss if I didn't write a little bit about summer camp.