Your Babka's Babka

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Our favorite Jewish cookbook extraordinaire, Joan Nathan, has invited an old friend to the Hanukkah table. In an article in today's NY Times, she shares with us the colorful -- and flavorful -- memories of babka in its original and contemporary varieties.

From Tekhines to Tap Dance

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Ever seen women with headscarves doing Vaudeville? Last week's Forward featured an article about Atara, an association of Torah observant artists whose new mission is to bring Orthodox female artists and performers together to nurture their creative expression -- be it through theatre, music, art, spoken word, etc. -- within a halachic framework. 

Free to be...

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Free To Be You And Me

Today I'm celebrating the 35th birthday of one of my favorite childhood albums, "Free to Be You and Me." I've always loved this collection of songs and stories that envision a non-sexist world. As a young adult, I was proud to learn that Jewish feminist Letty Cottin Pogrebin was the editorial consultant for the album, book, and tv special (and the author of "Stories for Free Children" which I also loved). Lately I've had the happy opportunity to appreciate "Free to Be You and Me" a second time around, now as a mom. It's fun to hear the voices of Marlo Thomas, Diana Ross, Harry Belafonte, Alan Alda, and Mel Brooks - it's like visiting with old friends.

"Jewish homegirl style"

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In yesterday's Style section of the New York Times, there was a very short article with a mention of Sarah Silverman's "sedulously cultivated Jewish homegirl style."  Now, I don't usually read the Style section, nor do I have a vested interest in Sarah Silverman, but this chic-sounding phrase - without a qualifying description -- had me a bit perplexed.  So I needed to inquire: what exactly is a Jewish homegirl style?  And how does one "sedulously cultivate" it? 

Making Trouble in Boston

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Yesterday I finally got to see Making Trouble, the film produced by the Jewish Women's Archive, on the big screen. After sold-out shows at film festivals around the country (plus Jerusalem!), Making Trouble made its Boston premiere as part of the Boston Jewish Film Festival. Though I've seen the film several times, and in various versions, it was exciting to see it in a theater, with a big audience.

What's in a Name?

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An article in last week’s New York Times Magazine about unisex or “gender-fluid” names caught my interest. I’ve always liked names (and playing with their spellings), and I happen to have one of those gender-fluid names myself.

Strangeness and Home, Rock and Water

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On Tuesday evening, I attended a reading (co-sponsored by the Jewish Women’s Archive) by scholar/writer/activist Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz from her new book The Colors of Jews: Racial Politics and Radical Diasporism. There’s a lot in this book—too much to discuss in one blog entry. In sum, it examines historical and contemporary views on Jews and whiteness and the complexities of African/Jewish relations.

Feminism in the blogosphere

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Last week, Newsweek ran an article titled From Barricades to Blogs, asking about the state of feminism in the 21st century. The article treads familiar (to my mind, tired) ground, questioning whether young women are taking up the torch of feminism, or whether they (we) are letting the flame die.

“Affiliated” and “Engaged”

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I just returned from the Jewish Outreach Institute’s annual conference called Opening the Tent: Visions and Practices for a More Inclusive Jewish Community. It was an interesting conference that explored practices for welcoming interfaith families, non-Jewish partners of Jews, Jews-by-Choice, and, generally speaking, all whom are “unaffiliated”—including Jews perceived to be “on the margins” (i.e. Jews of Color and GLBT-identified Jews)—into the established community.

Gertrude Elion: In a Class of Her Own

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The 2007 Nobel Prize laureates in Physics were announced this week—Albert Fert from France and Peter Gruenberg from Germany, both credited for the first successful applications of “nanotechnology” to radically reduce the size while radically increasing the storage of computer hard-drives. With their impressive credentials, Fert and Gruenberg seem to fit the mold for this award in a profession in which male + Ph.D is a likely pairing. But following the announcement, I was pleasantly reminded of chemist Gertrude Elion, a 1988 Nobel Prize recipient, who most certainly did not fit this mold, and who didn’t think much of it: “Women in chemistry and physics? There’s nothing strange about that.”

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