I, too, was a Midwesterner transposed to New York, trying to find my own way in the rich and heady dance scene. I knew Pearl Lang had come from Chicago, where she was raised in a cultured but poor Yiddish-speaking family. Her breathtaking career as a Graham dancer meant she had toured the world. And she often performed with her own company, the Pearl Lang Dance Theater, at the famed 92nd Street Y’s theater, where I went for performances by modern dance legends and for Fred Berk’s Wednesday night Israeli folk dancing. But now I was going to Hunter to see Lang’s “Shirah,” which she created in 1960.
When I heard that "Tiger Eyes" was being turned into a movie, I quickly turned to my friend circle to spread the news. Like any member of the facebook tribe, I immediately put a call out for Judy Blume fans—I figured if I was lucky, I could get someone to see Tiger Eyes with me when it comes out in June. I figured if I was really lucky, I could get someone to write a blog post for Jewish American Heritage Month about how Judy Blume affected their childhood.
Today we feature female American Jewish musicians who aren’t softly crooning classic Hebrew folk songs, traditional prayers, or even hava nagila. They are not belting out Broadway tunes or love songs à la Barbra Streisand or Bette Midler. These women are rocking out to their own beat.
As a special treat for our blog readers, we’re taking this Friday to do a bit of a blog round up. Our bloggers often explore areas of entertainment, and nothing gets us writing more than a good night out at the theatre. Check out these five incredibly diverse blog entries, each focusing on a different aspect of the stage.
An Un-Love Song is written as a psalm to Shavuot, which is associated with one of the most beautiful, celebratory poems in history, the Song of Songs. However, it’s written in the style of a Lamentation, as a response to heartbreaking acts of aggression towards women and children in the misappropriated name of religion. The poem addresses current events against a backdrop of Biblical recounting, including the Mount Sinai experience, the sin of worshipping the golden calf, the subsequent breaking of the original Tablets, and the story of Ruth and Naomi. It is a decidedly feminist poem.
The objects Mae made and the books she wrote helped shape the field of Jewish Americana. Mae’s work, taken as a whole, reflects her view that “just as Jews have become an integral part of the American scene, so can a classical American symbol be used to express a Jewish theme.” A shining example is her hannukiah titled “Miss Liberty”, which is emblazoned with the last lines of Emma Lazurus’s poem “The New Colossus,” and is in the permanent collection of the Jewish Museum in NYC.
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.
Do I admire her because she's been described as "... evasive about her height, acknowledging only that she was under 5 feet and under 100 pounds?" Well, all the more points to Estelle Getty for being an itsy-bitsy powerhouse, but mostly I admire her for being a genuinely funny, talented woman, who never gave up on her greatest ambitions. In an industry where youth and beauty are often valued far above maturity and wit, Estelle turned the tables. She found success in her later years, cracked wise about it the whole time, and taught young women like myself a few things along the way.
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.
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.
Earlier this month we promised more from our new series Moments In History, which commemorates game changing Jewish women in entertainment. Our last entry took a look at women on the silver screen—today we’ll explore memorable moments from the lives of four very different Jewish stars of the smaller screen.
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.
Reposted with permission from InterfaithFamily.
For Jewish American Heritage Month, we’ve scoured the Archive for a special selection of posts we are calling Moments in History. This selection includes moments ranging from 1890 to 2011, each profiling a noteworthy moment in the history of female Jewish entertainers.
While hard at work here at the Archive, I stumbled upon some interviews that ended up on the cutting room floor during production of our prizewinning documentary “Making Trouble”. Take a look at a few clips that feature fabulous Jewish women in entertainment talking about fabulous Jewish women in entertainment.
See Tovah Feldshuh speak about the ahead of her time Sophie Tucker, Alex Borstein explore Gilda Radner's beauty, Adrienne Cooper's take on Molly Picon gender roles, and Wendy Wasserstein's thoughts Jewish entertainers on and off the stage.
Each poem I write is about a person or relationship and the feelings and sensations I associate with him/her/them/it. Some explore connections with friends or family, while others dissect my relationship with God or with myself. I usually write in moments of clarity—not as a means of working through an idea or problem. Rather the poem is a record of a conclusion or discovery I have made, or perhaps poses a question for which I have decided to seek an answer.
We can be powerful women who know what we want. We should be, and we should be able to be without having to define ourselves according to antiquated parameters. Let’s set up new paradigms, and push beyond attachments to class and gender performance.
Like, oh my g-d! Like, like really…If it looks like a J.A.P. and sounds like a J.A.P., is it a J.A.P. (Jewish American Princess)?
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on May 22, 2015) <http://jwa.org/blog>.