By now it's both a truth and a truism that the personal is political.
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Judith Rosenbaum is a feminist historian who has happily escaped the academy and knows a lot of strange and often useless information (ask her about the history of the maxi pad or the vibrator, for example). She's inspired by anarchist Emma Goldman, political activist Bella Abzug, writer and activist Grace Paley, and other loud Jewish women – including those in her own family.
When I say "Martin Luther King, Jr." what comes to mind? I would bet you see him standing at the Lincoln Memorial, overlooking a sea of people on the Washington Mall, and hear the evocative words of his "I have a dream" speech. I understand why King's speech at the March on Washington in August 1963 has come to represent his life's work and his legacy, and why the moment is celebrated as the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
Tonight I drove home to Boston with Debbie Friedman's memorial service streaming live on my phone.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day provides the Jewish community with a unique and multifaceted opportunity each year: it's a chance to turn our communal attention from its inward focus to a more outward-directed perspective. A chance to connect with our African-American neighbors. A chance to celebrate the man who still looms large as a model of religiously-inspired leadership. A chance to recall with pride a time when many Jews stood up for the rights of all people, black or white.
As soon as I begin talking about the history of Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, a few names immediately come up in conversation: Abraham Joshua Heschel. Micky Schwerner.
Dear Breast Cancer:
I am aware. It’s not because of the extremely effective marketing, with the pink ribbon campaigns. It’s because I lived in your house, and you lived in mine.
I've been loving the coverage of Elena Kagan's youthful challenge of her rabbi over her right to have a bat mitzvah. I love it because it confirms what I've always believed -- that the chutzpah of young girls is not just pre-teen attitude but a sign of inner strength and a harbinger of great things to come (and I say this not only in a self-serving way as a former obnoxious girl-child or as the mother of a burgeoning one).
Yesterday I celebrated Mother's Day in an unusual way.
When a people have been around as long as the Jews, they have to be pretty good at renewing and re-imagining traditions in ways that feel authentic and also relevant. How else can rituals, practices, and beliefs survive the changes of time and place? It's a fine balance that is nicely captured in the term "old-new"--used, for example, in Theodore Herzl's Zionist novel about the "Old-New Land."