This weekend I went to the Central Square Theater to see Cravings: Songs of Hunger and Satisfaction, a cabaret set in a Jewish kitchen that explores themes of hunger, success, acceptance, nourishment, fame, and sex. Cravings, starring cabaret artist Belle Linda Halpern, accompanied by Ron Roy, and directed by Sabrina Hamilton, was originally created to close the Ko Festival's 2008 series, themed on food.
As I entered the theater I was surprised to find myself in a Jewish kitchen. The only thing out of place was the piano. Belle Linda Halpern made charoset, and kibbitzed with us in between songs. She even called on Ron to help peel apples. As a Jewish woman, I found everything in this show relatable. (Except, where did they find such a quiet food processor!?) But what struck me most of all was the connection Halpern draws between the Jewish craving for food and the craving for success and achievement.
"Boobs, boobies, titties, and ta-tas." These are not the words of a giggling 6 year-old, but the words of the nationwide Breast Cancer awareness campaign. They are illustrated by the t-shirt to the right, and a variety of other oh-so-tasteful designs. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this year, campaigns have ditched the emotional appeals to save the lives of the women in your life in favor of misogynistic slogans like, "Save the titties!" and "Save Second Base!"
As the 2009 Nobel prizes are being handed out, many are fussing over Obama's Peace Prize -- does he deserve it, will this affect his approach with Iran, etc. Important questions, certainly, but don't let them distract you from the real story this year: 2009 is a record year for women Nobel Prize-winners!
Only 40 women have ever won the prestigious Nobel Prize, 5 of whom were awarded the prize this year, one of whom is Israeli Jewess Ada Yonath, winner of the Chemistry Prize.
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.
Earlier this week, Family Guy aired an episode called "Family Goy" in which Lois (the mother) discovers her Jewish roots. As a self-proclaimed pop culture critic I feel like I should say something about this but honestly, what's to say? It's getting a lot of attention, as you might expect when a show known for offensive humor takes on the Jews. But the reality is that this is nothing new. If anything, it confirms the fact that Jewiness has gone mainstream.
On November 6th, the Museum of Jewish Heritage will open the Keeping History Center, providing an interactive experience for New York visitors that allows them to record and add their own stories to the historical record. This project is near and dear to us at the Jewish Women's Archive, since we have worked since our start 13 years ago to record the untold and unheard stories of American Jewish women -- stories like the one shared in this podcast.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Jewish Women International is posting daily stories of domestic abuse on their blog. These stories are shocking, crushing, and sad. They are also inspiring and thoughtful, with lessons about courage and love.
The following post is cross-posted from the JWI blog. It is taken from "Beating Hearts: Stories of Domestic Violence" an exhibit of photographic constructions with accompanying text by Kate Sartor Hilburn and Terrie Queen Autrey. This particular story is important because it reminds us that domestic abuse reaches far beyond violence. Abuse is about control, and often involves restriction, isolation, or even imprisonment.
I am fascinated, as well as outraged, by the Roman Polanski rape story. As all high profile media stories do, this case has evolved and mutated to touch on a number of really interesting and really important topics, primarily about rape culture and the culture of fame.
Last week celebrated filmmaker Roman Polanski was arrested at a film festival in Switzerland for the 1977 rape of a 13 year-old girl. Polanski admitted to drugging the girl and having intercourse with her, which is rape by any stretch of the imagination, not to mention pedophilia. Take a look at Feministing's roundup for more background information.
Women's jeans, Jewish comedians "Making Trouble," and revisiting Anne Frank - Link Roundup Oct 5, 2009
- October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Check out the blog of Jewish Women International where survivors are sharing stories and inspiring change. [JWI]
- It's the 75th anniversary of women's jeans, according to Levis. The history of women's jeans is juicy, so check the archives to read about boyfriend trousers and Jewess jeans. [Feministe]
- Newest SNL cast member (and Jewess) Jenny Slate accidentally says the F-word live. Like many Jewish women comedians, Jenny Slate is "Making Trouble." [Heeb]
- On that note, Making Trouble, the film about legendary Jewish women comedians, is now available for purchase on DVD from our website, www.makingtrouble.com.
Last Thursday I went to see pioneering sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer talk about her book Heavenly Sex: Sexuality in the Jewish Tradition at Temple Israel in Boston, a program by the New Center for Arts and Culture. This was my first time seeing the legendary Dr. Ruth in person, and as predicted, I was in awe of this teeny-tiny bubbe and her stylish glasses. I was excited to be there with my friends from the Jewish Women's Archive, community partner of the NCAC for this event.
Ruth F. Brin, esteemed Jewish author, poet, and scholar, died Wednesday September 30th, 2009, at age 88.
Ruth F. Brin was a literary pioneer famous for her authentic Jewish poetry, prayer services, scholarly articles, children’s books, librettos, a memoir, and most recently, at the age of 86, her first novel.
She was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and lived in Minneapolis until her death, at the age of 88, on Wednesday, September 30th. However, her poetry and teachings have moved beyond the Twin Cities, filling the pages of Reconstructionist, Reform and Conservative prayer books used in synagogues around the country.
I recently began a fun Twitter project, tweeting tidbits from American Jewess, the first English-language publication directed to American Jewish women (and this blog's namesake), edited by the original Jewess, Rosa Sonneschein. Today I came across this ad from the October 1895 issue, and almost fell out of my chair.
At the Jewish Women's Archive, it is part of my job to stay on top of the "twitterverse." I keep a running search of "tweets" that mention Jewish women, which helps me stay on top of the various conversations, as well as a few discriminatory remarks (anti-Semitism isn't dead!). And that is how I discovered this tweet: "When we claim Jewish women are easier to get along with than Christians, you don’t blame us, you blame Jesus. http://bit.ly/1RmiT" This quote has been tweeted and retweeted enough times to finally make me click on the shortened link to see what everyone was talking about.
Yesterday in Tablet magazine, Ruth Ellen Gruber* wrote about her trip to an old Jewish cemetery in Romania to look at the way images of shabbat candles are used on women's gravestones to convey meaning and memory. Gruber's project, (Candle)sticks on Stone, is time sensitive, as many of these gravestones are crumbling into obscurity, but, she writes, "those that remain comprise wonderful examples of vivid local stone-carving that fuse local folk art and Jewish iconography." Gruber is interested in presenting these carvings as works of art, but she does acknowledge the depth and complexity these carvings carry concerning the intersection of symbolism, Jewish tradition, and gender roles.
We are in big trouble. When I started reading about the healthcare reform battle, I was angry. Now that the Senate panel has rejected the public option, and Obama has declined to stand up for reproductive rights, I am getting scared. The more I read, the more I started to realize that there is a larger problem underlying this debate. There is something fundamentally wrong with the way people think about women's bodies and the healthcare they require. While reproductive healthcare is absolutely critical to the general health of every woman, every family and every community, it is considered separately, almost as if it were elective, in the greater discussion of healthcare reform.
How do you measure commitment? That’s the question I was left pondering after reading Elana Sztokman’s post on the double standard for Orthodox women. Some women’s tardiness for services has become a justification for shutting out the entire gender from a whole host of responsibilities, as late arrival to shul apparently signifies a lack of spiritual commitment.
Yesterday, JTA published, "Where the Blogosphere Meets the Boardroom," an op-ed co-authored by Jordan Namerow, a long-time writer for Jewesses with Attitude and my predecessor at the Jewish Women's Archive. This op-ed encourages the Federation to engage with the younger members of the Jewish community, many of whom are unaware of the Federation system. It gives suggestions for ways to bring young Jews into the fold, arguing, "Without including younger voices, Federation risks its own survival."
Writing that last post on the General Social Survey about women's unhappiness has really got me thinking about happiness and how to define happiness. In my post, I shared a quote from Nora Ephron in which she explains that in different eras, happiness could be defined as "a puppy," "a dry martini," or "knowing what your uterus looks like." What would happiness be defined as today? A smart phone?
The results of a General Social Survey, which has been tracking American’s happiness since 1972, have surprised and confused us with their finding that women are growing increasingly unhappy over time.
- Cooking with clichés: Yo Yenta shares her thoughts on The Jewish Princess line of cookbooks. [Yo Yenta]
- Mazel Tov Elaine Schuster, recently nominated as a representative to the U.N. General Assembly. [JTA]
- The House of Secrets: The Hidden World of the Mikveh is reviewed. [Washington Post] [Feminist Review]
- Gloria Steinem exhorted the members of the National Council of Jewish Women/Greater Detroit Section to become active in the fight for women's rights. [HometownLife]
Last Friday, Michelle Obama spoke to leaders of several women's groups arguing that "overhauling the nation’s health care system was of critical importance to women and part of 'the next step' in their long quest to assure full opportunity and equality." With healthcare reform at the forefront, it is becoming more and more obvious that the status quo is sexist, unfair, and often dangerous for women. For the first time in a long time, I am getting angry.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on July 29, 2016) <http://jwa.org/blog>.