You may have noticed a few new voices on Jewesses with Attitude. Meet Shira Engel, one of our newest guestbloggers!
Hi! I’m Shira Engel and I started guest-posting on Jewesses with Attitude a few weeks ago and I am so thrilled to access all sorts of Jewish women – feminist, young, old, savvy – through this innovative medium.
Full disclosure: I kind of wish I had written this book. Over the years, as I’ve read basically every history or memoir of the women’s movement, I’ve often thought that I’d like to write a popular account, one that would capture the passion and power of the second wave for the next generation, and also convey the relationship of the third wave to its predecessors.
Grace Paley died on Wednesday. She was 84 and had been sick, so it should not have come as a surprise, but when I heard the news I felt a very sharp sense of loss. So I decided I would spend the night with her, reading through my well-worn copy of her Collected Stories, her poems in Begin Again: Collected Poems, and her essays in Just as I Thought. And reading her words made it even harder to believe she’s gone – her stories just radiate life, in all its banality, warmth, irrationality, sadness, and love.
Last Sunday, I called my mother to wish her a happy Mother’s Day, hoping that she would be doing something more enjoyable than grading papers or power-washing the patio. With my mother still on my mind, I picked up a copy of You Never Call! You Never Write! A History of the Jewish Mother, by Joyce Antler. In this new book, which has gotten rave reviews, Antler explores the colorful history of the Jewish mother in American life.
Someone in the comment thread to the last post mentioned Deena Metzger as another woman who writes powerfully about justice. I second that recommendation, and thought I’d take this opportunity to add a few more words about her.
There is a new audio podcast on Nextbook of an interview with political activist and writer Alix Kates Shulman -- featured in JWA's online exhibit Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution -- about her first novel Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen. Click here to download or listen to the Nextbook podcast.
Last week, after Jewish writer Tillie Olsen died at the age of 94, I picked up a copy of Tell Me A Riddle, her first collection of short stories published in 1961. Last night I re-read “I Stand Here Ironing,” a story that recounts a poor working woman’s ambivalence about her parenting skills and about her eldest daughter’s future during the Great Depression.
It’s the story of an immigrant struggling to survive economically in the big city, a woman running for president, a crusade against pornography and birth control, a decades-long debate on how to achieve political equality for women.
Lately I’ve been re-reading the stories of Grace Paley, and no matter how many times I’ve read them, they’re hard to put down. She’s one of my favorite writers, a woman who weaves stories from what she views around her and captures how the most mundane, brief moments (a walk with a friend, moms watching kids in the park) contain everything we need to know about people and the world.
When a reporter of the Jewish Journal of Greater L.A. asked Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator and executive producer of WB’s acclaimed series Gilmore Girls, whether she’d be introducing more Jewish characters into her TV show, Amy replied: “By year seven, everyone on the show will be Jewish,” she says. “Believe me, it’s going to be the Chabad telethon.”
I guess the line is funnier if you know Gilmore Girls—a show about a single mom raising her teen daughter—is set in a fictional WASPy Connecticut town.