My heartbreak was saved by a friend who watched my interaction with groups of children on playgrounds and in schools who told me that because I didn’t have other children, my heart was big enough to hold everyone else’s.
I am like Ruth, I chose to join this community. But my daughter is more like the matriarchs— Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah— born to the Jewish people. For generations the greatest welcome a little girl got into the Jewish community was when her father would be honored with an aliyah the next Shabbat and announce the name of his daughter. No great fanfare like a bris. No grand communal gathering.
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in my car outside my daughter’s day care. No worries, there’s no crying here, no major trauma. I’m trying to check things off my list while waiting for the start of “El dia de Primavera,” a celebration of the first day of spring.
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.
Today we welcome our first post from Hannah Elbaum, one of our Rising Voices Fellows. Be sure to check the JWA blog each Tuesday for a new post from one of our fellows—and check out the great educational resources provided by our partner organization, Prozdor.
My parents don’t talk about feminism.
It’s not a taboo topic, just not one we typically discuss around the dinner table- or ever, for that matter.
But, feminism is not lacking in my household. My parents equally share responsibilities of taking care of a house, three kids, and their respective jobs. Still, the words “equality of opportunity,” or “feminism” have rarely been said aloud under this roof.
This year it’s been 15 years since my mom passed away from Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and I think this past year has actually been one of the most difficult without her.
When my mom first died, some people warned me how difficult it would be not to have her down the road, especially during lifecycle events such as weddings, children, and other moments of joy. Well, they were right.
Changing my name is a choice that I can make. I can keep my name if I want, or change it, or come up with something entirely different. By deciding to take my soon-to-be-husband’s last name, I am naming a particular moment in my life, my transition from single to married. I am changing my name, not because that is what I am expected to do, but because I am signaling a unified partnership, as we are both helpers to each other. Adam isn’t naming me, like the birds and the beasts. I am claiming the power to name myself.
My daughter is 11 months old. Yet I don’t know if the thought that I am someone’s mother has fully settled in. Mother. It’s a term I did not consider carrying much weight until 11:46pm on June 12 of last year. Now, it’s a term that feels very rich and heavy. It is a term that is ripe with promise. It is a term that terrifies me.
I told my husband that if we're blessed to become pregnant again, I don't want to start discussing names until the day before the bris or simchat bat— perhaps we'll make that an added superstition that we throw into the barrel of Jewish pregnancy customs.
It’s Presidents’ Day. And I find myself thinking about her, the woman who came closest to presiding over our nation, taking up temporary residence (for the third time) at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I am fascinated by our nation’s changing perceptions—and altered reception—of Hillary Clinton.