I am a 23 year old Jewish female, born and raised in the U.S. Until this point in my life, I thought I had a fair amount of responsibility—I went off to college hundreds of miles away from home and moved into an equally far away home of my own after graduating to begin a career. Yet, in contrast to my fellow female Israeli counterparts in their 20s, the responsibility on my shoulders pales in comparison.
My daughter Risa is turning two next week. When my mother, a Jewish feminist who went to law school at age 40, asked me to accompany her to a toy store to pick a gift, I agreed. She asked me what Risa enjoyed most these days, and I admitted “dress-up.”
All week I’ve been fascinated by the reports of Catholic women being ordained as priests – 12 women were ordained on a boat outside of Pittsburgh on Monday (these “irregular” ordinations take place on rivers, which are beyond archdiocese jurisdiction), and last week another secretly ordained woman priest “came out” about her ordination and resigned from her position in the Archdiocese of Boston.
As Israel resumes air strikes against Lebanon, after a brief pause of bombing, most of us are left wondering if peace in the Middle East is as possible as catching a unicorn ride to Narnia. And yet, as Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua recently put it, “I can be a pessimist for myself, but I have to be optimistic for [my grandchildren]. I have to keep the spirit.”
We may be known for our long and rich past, but I think it’s fair to say that the Jewish community is obsessed with its future – think about the role of a term like “Jewish continuity” in American Jewish life. And we also like to talk. So it’s not a big surprise that so many conferences and programs – especially now, in the early years of a new millennium – have taken the Jewish future as their subject.
When I saw the footage of President Bush coming up behind German Chancellor Merkel and squeezing her shoulders, I have to say I was pretty horrified. Was it the most offensive thing I’ve seen Bush do? Not by a long shot. But the notion that he thought this was acceptable behavior was still disturbing. For many of us women, it also brought back a memory of having our space invaded by some jerky guy, being too surprised to do anything, and then regretting we hadn’t.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been reading the news reports about the escalating violence in Israel and Lebanon with dread and despair. I am struck by how unavoidable the violence seems to be, and yet how unconstructive it is, destroying lives, homes, businesses, and hope, while sowing further seeds of hate.
That’s what writer David Marchese is looking for, according to the article he wrote last week for Salon.com. He laments the fact that long gone are the hip male Jews of the 60s and 70s like Dustin Hoffman, Bob Dylan, Gene Simmons, Starsky and James Caan (to name just a few). These were Jewish men who came across as tough and multi-layered and complicated in a way that made us love them.
What do you think about NEW, Network of Enlightened Women? If you haven’t heard of it, they’re a group of conservative female college students, founded in 1994 by UVA student Karen Agness. They are “dedicated to fostering the education and leadership skills of conservative university women.” What does that mean? It means they think the Vagina Monologues “glorifies” rape; feel that women’s studies “unfairly paints men as evil” and “ignores differences between the sexes,” and have a major problem with modern feminism.
When Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic, basically a filmed version of Sarah’s comedy act, came out in theaters last year, I didn’t see it. I knew nothing about her brand of comedy, and was hardly willing to commit to being trapped in a theater for two hours. But a bunch of friends recommended it, so I decided to check it out when it came to video.
Forty years ago today, the National Organization for Women (NOW), was founded in Betty Friedan’s hotel room in Washington, DC. Friedan and the 26 other founders were frustrated by the unwillingness of the National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women to take any meaningful action against the well-documented widespread discrimination against 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.
Every day, I look at the poster of labor activist Rose Schneiderman in my office, and I draw inspiration from the stories of Jewish women who shook up the American labor movement in the early 20th century. So it was with both sadness and interest that I read the obituary of labor lobbyist Evelyn Dubrow last night.
By now you all know I’ve got a lot of issues with what our world looks like these days. Near the top of my list is popular media’s degrading representation of women and girls, who are objectified and usually valued only for their appearance and sexiness (as defined by men). So all hail the REAL hot 100 – a list compiled by a bevy of kick-ass young feminists to counter Maxim Magazine’s annual “Hot 100” list and to redefine what makes women hot.
Kudos goes to Kelly Kulick, who is the first woman to qualify for the Professional Bowlers Association Tour. She's a 29-year old from Union, N.J. who works in her father's auto-body shop. According to the New York Times article about Kulick, published on June 15, some men in the PBA are upset at the idea of a woman playing on what has traditionally been a men's sport and a men's tour.
The new uproar over the public health threat of not breastfeeding illustrates exactly what is wrong with the conversation about women, motherhood, and feminism in this country. An article in Tuesday’s New York Times reports on a new public health campaign that compares not breastfeeding your infant to smoking during pregnancy.
I picked up the book Joy Comes in the Morning , written by Jonathan Rosen, for a couple reasons. One, I knew the book had won the 2005 Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction award. Two, I am always intrigued by the notion of a man writing from the perspective of a female (Wally Lamb’s She Comes Undone is still the best I’ve seen). In this case, Rosen writes from the perspective of Rabbi Deborah Green, an attractive, smoking, complicated Reform rabbi.
Last night I attended a powerful program about the genocide currently taking place in Darfur. (Full disclosure: the program was planned by my husband. I was proud.) The speakers – Rev. Dr. Gloria White-Hammond of the Million Voices for Darfur campaign, Mark Hanis of the Genocide Intervention Network, and Sifa Nsengimana of the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur – gave informative presentations that also focused on specific steps we can take to help end the genocide in Darfur, which has already killed 400,000 people and displaced more than 2,000,000.
Newsweek just retracted its 1986 cover article “The Marriage Crunch,” which claimed that a 40-year-old, single, white, college-educated woman was “more likely to be killed by a terrorist than to marry.” Retraction? Are you kidding?!
Last Sunday I watched the Memorial Day Parade in Somerville with a bunch of my friends. It was a great excuse to get together with other families, have a barbeque and chill.
But as I was enjoying the high school bands playing their trumpets and flutes and the Shriners in their little cars, I couldn’t help but notice that there was a big disconnect between the spirit of celebration and the fact that there is a war going on.
Everywhere I turn there seem to be “shocking” or “eye-opening” reports on “The Mommy Wars,” including those on ABC news, the Washington Post, CNN, and Good Morning America. Although I’ve been hearing the term bandied about all year, it was just this week that I decided to find out what the heck they were. After all, as the mother of a toddler, I should probably know why I’m at war with other women—and whether I need to draw my weapons.
This June marks a milestone in the history of Jewish feminism: the retirement of Rabbi Sally Priesand, the first American woman rabbi. In the feature about her in the New York Times last Saturday, she repeated something she’s said often during her career: “I became a rabbi not to champion women’s rights.
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.
I became a historian not just because I like poking through people’s stuff (though I am pretty nosy), but because I believe that history offers us the best way to understand how to make change in that history offers us the best way to understand how to make change in the world – and our world could use some serious change. I draw inspiration from the stories of people who came before us and made a real difference. But sometimes looking back at history makes me depressed, especially when it seems like we’re stuck in the same arguments and issues, or even losing ground.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on September 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog>.