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Family Stories

Food, Fat, and Feminism: Navigating the Contradictions of Judaism and Food

We’re all familiar with the stereotype of the zaftig Jewish bubbe, stuffing her offspring with chicken soup and brisket, shouting, “Eat! Eat! You’re skin and bones.” We love to talk about these mythical kitchens of our childhoods—tables overflowing with kugels and babkas, tsimmus and kneidlach. But for many Jewish women, there was another, more painful, side to this abundance. Our bubbes didn’t just say, “Eat! Eat!” they also said “Why are you eating so much? You’re getting fat!” I don’t think this contradiction is unique to Judaism, but I do think there’s a distinctive cultural spin to this schizophrenic relationship to food. And considering the prevalence of eating disorders, if there are cultural roots, we need to weed them out.

Elul, my Grandma, the Tomato Hornworm, and the Talmud

Even as it’s the start of August and the middle of summer, it’s also about to be the start of the Hebrew month of Elul.

I’m particularly conscious of the timing because my Grandma died – ten years ago this month – on the last day of Av. Confusingly the last day of Av is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul; ie the day before the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, which is in fact the first day of Elul. That in turn is the first day we blow shofar, and thus the official start of the season of teshuva – of returning to our best selves. So, in honor of my grandma, and lest the holidays catch you unawares, a few things to think about in the forthcoming season of teshuva.

My/Her Tattoo

I knew when I went to get my first tattoo that the hardest part wouldn’t be the pain (although it did hurt quite a bit), it would be telling my mother. I had the idea when I was living in Israel, where I fell in love with Hebrew–it’s twists and turns and calligraphy were captivating to me. Chazak, strength, meant to me that I would always be strong, even in moments of weakness or distress.

To Tattoo Or Not To Tattoo

I am leaving tomorrow for a trip home to LA. Between visiting cousins, friends, new babies, and family, my trips home tend to whiz by in a blur of too-short-check-ins.

Jewish Women in Modern America: Lessons to Live By

Last semester, I was one of four boys in a course at The Weber School dedicated to Jewish women in modern America—a group of people who have had great impact on our lives. However, this group has received little of the public recognition it deserves and is vastly underrepresented in traditional history classes. Like most other American high school students, I have spent the bulk of my academic career studying Christian men from Europe. No wonder that I knew little or nothing about these remarkable women. Yet learning about them is only one reason why this course was so enlightening.

How I Accidentally Became A Jewish Historian

Like many recent college graduates, I began my job hunt by asking myself some difficult questions “What do I want to do? Who do I want to be?

What my dad taught me about feminism

I call myself a second-generation feminist, and when I do so, I’m thinking of my mom.

Our Fathers

In a blog post last week Gabrielle Orcha asked, "What about the Jewish father? ... Who is he really?"

Cleaning for Passover, missing my Bubbe

 

I’ve started cleaning for Passover, have you?

The Hanukkah bush: Raising Jewish kids in downtown NYC

For those of you not around New York City in the 1970s, raising children was a challenge. City parks were infested with drug dealers and street crime was high.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Family Stories." (Viewed on September 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/family-stories>.

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