I have to admit that I didn't grow up with Barbies. Born to a feminist mom in the 1970s, I only had Skipper, Barbie's flat-chested cousin. But as much as Barbie's boobs kind of frightened me (and still do), Skipper just didn't have her charisma.
Earlier this week, the Jewish Women's Archive proudly launched the online version of Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Paula Hyman of Yale University and Dalia Ofer of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and originally published by Alice and Moshe Shalvi of Shalvi Publishing, Ltd.
Years ago, when I was working on my undergraduate thesis on Yiddish film, I attempted conversation about the subject at cocktail parties (well, at that point they weren’t yet cocktail parties, but there were definitely M&Ms) –
“Yiddish? Film? What? Like Yentl?”
No. Not like Yentl. They’re in Yiddish! And most of them were originally Yiddish theater productions. Molly Picon? ... No?... Nobody?... Nevermind. Is it hot in here? Pass the M&Ms.
In a recent session of my comedy class for Jewish high schoolers, I instructed the students to re-do a scene in the style of the "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." I might as well have said "gee willakers" and put on my newsies cap.
This past weekend I saw a documentary film called Who Does She Think She Is?. The film profiles five female artists who are also mothers, as well as several commentators including Tiffany Shlain, creator of The Tribe, and Courtney Martin author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters and contributor to Feministing.com.
Yesterday I attended a workshop on themes of social justice in Jewish music. I was given a music packet that included songs by Bob Dylan, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary), Pete Seeger, Jeff Klepper, the stud-of-a-Jewish-Rockstar Rick Recht, and E18hteen (the modern Jewish rock band founded by Dan Nichols). "E18hteen" sings that catchy song "Kehilah, Kedoshah" which is all the rage in Reform Jewish camps (I'm not going to lie -- I dig this song despite its cheesiness).
I've always had a soft spot for Joan Rivers. Once, as a student at Barnard, (BC '98), Rivers's Alma Mater, I was highlighted by a Barnard publication for my work as a comedian, and was noted to be "the next Joan Rivers." Erroneously, this allowed me to believe that we were secret best friends, and that if ever I was to meet Joan -I would say "Hello, I am the next You; we are best friends, yes?" Also erroneous is the claim itself - there is no "Next Joan Rivers" - she is irreplaceable (nor do I come close).
Back to school means a few things to this Jewess: buying new white shirts (they never last more than a season) and preparing for the High Holidays. This fall, there may be a few other things on our collective plates, it being an election season and all, but I want to propose that we spend the next few weeks preparing not only for Rosh HaShana (September 29 - October 1) and Yom Kippur (October 9), but also for Love Your Body Day, an annual event (now in its 10th year) sponsored by NOW, which falls on October 15 (also Sukkot, this year).