Reading about Miep Gies’ death this morning in the New York Times caused me to pause and reflect on the story of this ordinary Dutch woman who selflessly hid Anne Frank’s family and friends over 60 years ago. Anne Frank’s story is one that we’re all more than familiar with, and it bears no repeating here.
Jewish Women International releases its "10 Women to Watch in 5770" list. Mazel Tov! [JWI]
On the Arts:
The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco will host “As It Is Written: Project 304,805,” a public performance in which 34-year-old scribe Julie Seltzer will spend a year calligraphing a Torah scroll in one of the museum’s galleries. [Tablet]
New York, I Love You opens this Friday, starring Natalie Portman as an ultra-Orthodox woman. Tablet looks over the history of Hasidic characters in film. [Tablet]
Regina Spektor condemns Holocaust deniers in her song, "Ink Stains." [MyJewishLearning]
I logged onto the computer last weekend to see that Anne Frank was a trending topic on Twitter. That was largely thanks to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, which released (as the Bintel Blog reported) a new video, showing the only known footage of Anne, leaning out of a window and watching a married couple. It immediately became a hit on YouTube. Seeing such a timelessly tragic figure from another time on such definitively contemporary context — Web 2.0 — had an odd feeling to it. And then of course, Anne got caught in the middle of a bizarre dust-up between David Mamet and the Disney Studio. (Mamet’s re-imagining of the diary onscreen involved a contemporary girl going to Israel to learn about the trauma of suicide bombings) and she is the subject of a new book by Francine Prose.
The most recent issue of Heeb Magazine is causing quite a stir. The issue features Roseanne Barr wearing an apron and a Hitler mustache, pulling a tray of “burnt Jew cookies” out of an oven. The Heeb publisher posted an article explaining the editorial choice, which discusses a cultural shift towards acceptance of “Holocaust humor.” Heeb argues that old taboos are relaxing. Jews are beginning to embrace the Holocaust in a new way - as something to laugh about. Is this true? Has the Holocaust really become funny?
The first Olympics I remember well were the 1988 Summer Games, held in Seoul. We were sitting shiva for my grandfather on Long Island. I remember my sister and I lying on our grandparents' bed (my grandmother always had pink satin sheets) and being completely mesmerized by the tiny female gymnasts as they tumbled across the floor. To my knowledge, none of those women were Jewish (Kerri Strug made her debut in 1992, and the Israeli gymnasts who competed in 1988 likely did not make it to American television), but American Jewish women have made a strong impact on the Olympic Games over the past 100-plus years.
I made the mistake of picking up The Zookeeper's Wife and reading it as though it were a novel. Maybe I was just in that headspace because the first two books on the Jewesses with Attitude Summer Reading List were fiction. The Zookeeper's Wife, however, is a genre-bending piece of prose that defies the conventions of history, memoir, and naturalist writing, all of which it employs.
I spent the last week of December encamped in a Catskills hotel with about 425 klezmorim, dancers, artists, students, and lovers of Yiddish from around the world. We had gathered for the 23rd annual KlezKamp, a music and culture extravaganza organized by Living Traditions, a nonprofit dedicated to Yiddish cultural continuity and community. During the day, we took classes on everything from Hasidic dance to world Jewish foodways; at night, we danced to the newest and oldest in Ashkenazi music in the hotel ballroom with its famous gold lamè curtains.
Last night I attended a powerful program about the genocide currently taking place in Darfur. (Full disclosure: the program was planned by my husband. I was proud.) The speakers – Rev. Dr. Gloria White-Hammond of the Million Voices for Darfur campaign, Mark Hanis of the Genocide Intervention Network, and Sifa Nsengimana of the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur – gave informative presentations that also focused on specific steps we can take to help end the genocide in Darfur, which has already killed 400,000 people and displaced more than 2,000,000.
I know, hardly words you expect to see on an archive for young Jewish women. Why should we make special mention of the fact that a Roman Catholic nun who grew up in a farm in Wisconsin died last Saturday? Because this sweet-’n’-powerful sister made it her life's mission to better relations between Catholics and Jews in some pretty awesome ways. Here are 5 of those ways, according to her NY Times obit on Monday.