October is host to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Love Your Body Day (Oct. 21st), and now Fat Talk Free Week. Beginning Oct. 19th, Fat Talk Free Week challenges us to stop "Fat Talk", defined as "all of the statements made in everyday conversation that reinforce the thin ideal and contribute to women's dissatisfaction with their bodies.
This weekend I went to the Central Square Theater to see Cravings: Songs of Hunger and Satisfaction, a cabaret set in a Jewish kitchen that explores themes of hunger, success, acceptance, nourishment, fame, and sex. Cravings, starring cabaret artist Belle Linda Halpern, accompanied by Ron Roy, and directed by Sabrina Hamilton, was originally created to close the Ko Festival's 2008 series, themed on food.
As I entered the theater I was surprised to find myself in a Jewish kitchen. The only thing out of place was the piano. Belle Linda Halpern made charoset, and kibbitzed with us in between songs. She even called on Ron to help peel apples. As a Jewish woman, I found everything in this show relatable. (Except, where did they find such a quiet food processor!?) But what struck me most of all was the connection Halpern draws between the Jewish craving for food and the craving for success and achievement.
The Jewish holidays are divided (in my mind) into "food holidays" and "not food holidays." The High Holy Days are the ultimate expression of this dichotomy. On Rosh Hashana, we delight in foods that are sweet to ring in the New Year, and on Yom Kippur, we fast.
Thanks to Julie & Julia, foodies are abuzz about Julia Child. Icon though she is, the story of a different sort of chef caught my attention this week. Sylvia Schur passed away at age 92 last week. Her obituary in the New York Times captivated me as I realized that this woman was no ordinary chef.
Sylvia Schur was not a stereotypical "Betty Crocker," though she did create recipes for the company. She did not wear pearls and an apron and stand in a TV studio stirring cake batter. Instead, she pioneered the modern food industry - creating the now classic recipes you see on the back of the box, problem solving with the heads of Ocean Spray, editing magazines, running a successful consulting company, and developing convenience foods for women on the go. Sylvia Schur was a creative champion of modern working women who refused to spend their days in the kitchen.
Apropos of Ellen's comment about "what makes Thanksgiving so meaningful for some American Jews" in her prior post, I thought I'd share an excerpt from an article published in The American Jewessin November 1896.
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).
A couple of weeks ago, I posted on the horrifying (and ongoing) story of the Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa. Since then, the Uri L'Tzedek boycott against the Rubashkins was lifted due to a feeling that the federal compliance officer assigned to the plant was getting the labor practices into the shape they needed to be.