You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share


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.

Reflections on My Mom

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.

The Power to Name Myself

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.

I am Hopeful. I'm Up for the Challenge. I am a Mother.

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.

Naming William

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.

Reposted with permission from InterfaithFamily.

Our Changing Perception of Hillary (Rodham) Clinton

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.


So, it’s an educators’ conference. You can imagine, we are caught in our business casual pastel prints and scarves, pencil skirts and ballet flats.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Mothers." (Viewed on October 9, 2015) <>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now


Which topics pique your interest on the JWA blog?

Sign Up for JWA eNews



1 hour
"I don’t need to cut my hair short, wear cargo pants & combat boots and play football. But I like that I could"
7 hr
RT : We all carry stories. Not all get heard. of shares her in Chi this Nov!
1 day
Read Karla Goldman's excellent piece on Regina Jonas and the movement to preserve Jonas’s legacy