Evil tongues, gossip and snark; who is not guilty of slithering into their seductive arms? I refused to see the movie “Mean Girls.” I was not, however, immune to its cultural reverberations and its ever-popular subject matter: catty girls destroying one another with vituperative snark, often in the cafeteria accompanied by sidelong glares and diet sodas. Jews and students of Judaism may be familiar with snark under its Talmudic pseudonym lashon hara – evil language/tongue.
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Barbie was created in 1959 by Jewish business woman Ruth Handler. She was an Amazonian creation: a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, big-busted American beauty. She loved to drive pink convertibles; her wardrobe and shape-shifting abilities were astonishing. By the 80s, she was highly multicultural and had an endless variety of career paths open to her, from model to mad professor. Nothing is off-limits to ever trail-blazing Barbie, not even tefillin or a burqa.
Can a woman perform a bris? Jewish scholars, even the most Orthodox, answer with a tentative “why not?” for there is no halachic (Jewish law) prohibition against mohelot – female mohels. While Jewish law states that it’s preferable for a Jewish male to perform the brit milah (circumcision) if one is present, it is not mandatory. The symbolism of a woman circumcising a man is inherently provocative, touching on questions of spirituality, nurturing mothers, and emasculation. Many men, when polled on the subject, reflexively cross their legs.
Last Sunday, after a totaled car and a summarily canceled day-trip to Ipswich, MA, my friend and I decided to make the best of things and not let a little thing like a car accident ruin our day. What better activity than seeing a German Expressionist film about robots, class struggle, and compassion? Alas, while there are many great things one can say about the film, I was angered by the predictably dualistic depiction of women, a theme as old as Lilith and Eve.
As a summer intern with the Jewish Women’s Archive, I am delighted to join Jewesses with Attitude. This is only my second day at JWA, and I have already learned quite a bit from the people around me and the web content. Three different people have shown me where the coffee machine and the bathroom are located…I appreciate the warm welcome I have received and look forward to sharing what I can.
Historian Gertrude Himmelfarb celebrated her 88th birthday yesterday, August 8, while Congress took its first week of summer recess. In the months between now and November’s midterm elections, much will be made of liberal and conservative values, culture wars, and their derivate potential laws. We can safely anticipate advertisements of the basest ilk, making clear heroes and still clearer villains out of political adversaries.