Do you subscribe to our This Week in History email list? If you don't, you're missing out on time travel. Alright fine, maybe not time travel. But, you are missing out on weekly emails that bring you all of the facts, histories, and stories from the American Jewish world of yesteryear.
Sometimes at JWA a story insists on coming to life.
The article on Sophie Rabinoff in our online Encyclopedia was a good scholarly representation of the pioneering physician's life and work. But no photos accompanied it; nothing helped lift it off the page. A few weeks ago, her great niece Jennifer Arnold contacted us to say that she had some photos of her aunt and wondered if we could add them to the article. I told her that we would be happy to, and she kindly scanned and sent them to me.
This delicious article in the Boston Globe had me pumping my feminist fist in the air! In a report on the Combined Jewish Philanthropies Women’s Philanthropy’s annual Pomegranate event held at Congregation Mishkan Tefilah in Chestnut Hill, MA, Beth Teitell reported that there were no "visible panty lines," or "VPLs."
Jewish designers are a staple on the fashion scene – famous names like Zac Posen, Isaac Mizrahi, Max Azria, Kenneth Cole, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Diane Von Furstenberg, Ralph Lauren are all members of the tribe. A few years ago, Slate even published a story called “The Rise of Schmatte Chic”, which chronicled the fleeting trend of Orthodox Jewish influence in runway fashion.
I just came home from a trip to my local suburban mall with two friends from elementary school. The mall is looking good – the walls are an upscale beige accented with stained wood, and new stores like Coach and BCBG emphasize that those who shop here must have ample money to spend. The mall is clearly marked as Jewish, too, with shoppers wearing long skirts, kippas, or less modest clothing adorned with Jewish symbols and summer camp logos.
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.
Today I got a curious message titled "Breast Cancer Awareness" in my inbox on Facebook. It instructed me to update my status to say the color of my bra, and asked me to spread the word to my lady friends only. It struck me as an odd way to show support for breast cancer awareness, but I decided to play along.
Throughout the day, I saw the number of status updates reading simply "black" or "hot pink" increase throughout the day, accompanied by comments by confused and frustrated male friends asking, "What does it mean???" I was pretty surprised to see how quickly the message spread throughout the Facebook universe. (Behold the power of social media!)
And as this was happening, and will continue to happen, I couldn't help but wonder what Ida Cohen Rosenthal -- co-founder of Maidenform -- would think of the fact that the bra is quickly becoming a symbol of breast cancer awareness.
The New York Times recently identified androgyny as the "it" fashion trend. It seemed to begin with "skinny jeans" -- skin-tight pants quickly adopted by fashion-forward men and women. Unisex hoodies, coats, footwear, t-shirts, and hairstyles were soon to follow. While women dressing in masculine clothing is old hat (the tomboy), the idea of heterosexual men dressing in feminine clothing is new, edgy, and raising eyebrows as well as questions about traditional gender norms.