I’ve been thinking a lot about literacy lately. Maybe it’s because I’m working for a children’s book company this summer or maybe it’s because I am now open to seeing the holes in my own literacy. Of course, when I think of literacy, I tend to associate it with Judaism because that is where many of my holes originate.
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Shira Engel is a loud and proud Jewish feminist high school
senior who takes it as a compliment when labeled outspoken, seeing as
you have to really speak your mind to share that title in bustling New
York City. She is of the belief system that life is lived to laugh about
and words have the power to inspire laughter, provoke thought, and make
people squirm with new opinions. Shira's writing is most often an
indirect product of yoga, jolts of coffee, her baby sister, the
Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel, and conversations she "overhears" on the streets of Chelsea.
My friend Becca, along with some of her Orthodox Jewish Day School friends/co-tichel cuties created a pretty intense fusion of Lady Gaga and traditional Orthodox concepts (the wearing of the tichel – garb for married women, preparing for Shabbat, and the waiting for the Messiah). This is not a likely combination so that’s probably why it has been getting so much attention in the blogosphere, both positive and negative.
As I embark on my final days of high school, I am working feverishly hard (well, let’s face it – senioritis makes me say I’m going to do so) on my senior project. My project, a collection of interviews with New York Jewish women on the intersection of Judaism and feminism (how appropriate!), is an exploration of how personal identity can be shaped by external forces/movements.
I walk into what is undoubtedly the most beautiful house on campus. Its simplicity allows for the exuberance of the people within it to shine. The rabbi opens the door, a young father of twins, all smiles and joking about having to convince me to attend the university even though my mind was already made up. I follow my friend Tobah, a Conservative Jew who has yet to skip a week of coming to the multi-denominational Havurah, into the living-room-turned-synagogue. We squeeze onto a couch with a sisterhood of freshmen and sophomores who make up the majority of the Kabbalat Shabbat crowd.
The work of the historian is to not only tell a story, but to tell it in a way that makes it real, vivid, alive, and human for the receiver. I learned this on Monday when I had the privilege of attending the Matrix Awards and hearing Doris Kearns-Goodwin’s acceptance speech. This wisdom instantly struck a chord because it describes exactly why I write and what I want to do with my writing.
You may have noticed a few new voices on Jewesses with Attitude. Meet Shira Engel, one of our newest guestbloggers!
Hi! I’m Shira Engel and I started guest-posting on Jewesses with Attitude a few weeks ago and I am so thrilled to access all sorts of Jewish women – feminist, young, old, savvy – through this innovative medium.
The show that is characterizing the American high school experience is no longer Beverly Hills 90210. It is not One Tree Hill, The OC, Dawson’s Creek, or any other television series that is comprised of a homogeneous group of blonde, white, and religiously hush-hush teenagers whose differences are minimized for the sake of a cohesive social hierarchy.
I consider myself fortunate to take Gender Studies as my English literature class during my final semester of high school.