Welcome to the JWA Book Club! We are excited to gather today to discuss Tova Mirvis's novel, Visible City.
To comment or ask the author questions, simply click on the link on the bottom left of the video. It will pop out into a new window, giving you a "Q & A" button on the top right of the screen which allows you to submit questions.
My first blog post was kind of like my first driving lesson: I was given the keys and told to go before I could ask, “which one’s the gas pedal?” (I’m not kidding. I had no idea.) When I first heard about the Jewish Women’s Archive and the Rising Voices Fellowship, I hadn’t thought much about what it means to identify as a feminist—I just knew that I loved writing, and I wanted to experiment with new forms of it. I’d never been taught how to blog before, and I was excited to learn.
Over Boston’s long winter, I shared Shabbat dinner with a friend-of-a-friend who, unbeknownst to me, is a talented poet and playwright. In addition to winning a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship this spring, Cecelia Raker’s play dry bones rising made its first full-length, professional debut in May at the Venus Theatre in Laurel, MD.
When I wrote my first piece for Rising Voices, it was about an experience I had in Israel. It was about the moment I realized what kind of Jew I wanted to be, not compromising any cosmopolitan feminist part of myself for my religion. When I posted the piece on Facebook, someone told me that they totally understood what I meant and often felt the same way. It was among the highest compliments I’ve ever received.
Anne Meara was a Jewess with an attitude. She was born in Brooklyn on September 20, 1929, raised as a Catholic, and died as a Jew in Manhattan on May 23, 2015. Meara studied drama and although she never intended to be a comedian, that’s how she will be remembered by most audiences. What made Meara truly unique was that she exuded her Irish ethnicity while simultaneously taking on the mantle of Jewish wife and mother.
Sometimes, I just wish that life came with a script. Whether catching up with a friend or chit-chatting with a relative, the thought of having well-written, tidy responses laid out for me is a tantalizing prospect. Never again would I have to worry about saying the wrong thing, tripping over words, or completely misusing language in a misguided attempt to sound smarter than I actually am. Alas, life is not scripted.
I didn't anticipate losing friends when I became a mom. Perhaps I was naive, perhaps I was too focused on achieving a dream. Years of infertility treatments followed by years waiting for our adopted daughter took their toll. Being around young families then was painful, so I built close relationships with women who had chosen not to have children. Some had fertility issues, some not. All felt judged by society for not "achieving motherhood."
Ancient Egypt, Nazi Germany, and High School Classrooms: Is There Such a Thing as an Innocent Bystander?
There is little more frustrating than being punished for something that you did not do. The extra homework assignments because a few classmates were talking, no sandals to work because one girl stubbed her toe, no more school-wide pancake breakfasts because one group of students did not clean up their lunch, the trampoline is off-limits because one person couldn’t follow the rules. So many instances when one person, or one small group of people, ruined it for everybody.
Boxes of slide reels still cover my repurposed kitchen table. To help with storage, a nearby closet offers enough space for a whopping twelve boxes for a total of sixteen, all compiled by my paternal Grandfather. I’m no mathematician but I can easily calculate that, with sixteen boxes of eighty slides, there must be over twelve hundred squares of film.
I feel a certain amount of discomfort in posting on JWA’s blog the glowing, cheerful recipes so common this time of year. As a Jewish organization that focuses on women’s history and feminism, what does it mean to fill our blog with recipes for baked goods and brisket? Though we boast an increasingly robust number of male readers, JWA reaches mainly women. Do I want to bombard them with tips for cooking for a large family during the holidays? No, not really.
Recently I have become aware of Meninist Twitter, an account with thousands of followers. An account whose purposes, as far as I can tell, are to argue that true gender equality means fighting for men's rights, to claim that women have an agenda that involves disadvantaging men, and, of course, to ridicule feminism.
Since the return of Rachel Menken in Season 7, JWA's Judith Rosenbaum and Tara Metal have been having a blast writing about Mad Men on the blog. After Sunday's series finale (sob!) they had one last chat about Don's legacy, Peggy's love life, and Joan's feminism.
I’m late to the party of commentary on last week’s episode, The Milk and Honey Route, and anyway, all thoughts are running to this evening’s looming end. So I offer some general reflections instead.
Anger is powerful. Anger is useful. If you insult me at the bowling alley, I am bound to bowl a strike right after. I tend to utilize anger in three areas: passive aggressive, the rare occasions where I engage in competitions, and talking about feminist issues. Not to sound like an angry feminist, but there is a lot to be angry about on that front.
Ilana has always been a giver; it’s how she was raised and it makes her feel whole. She’s a preschool teacher, a babysitter, a loving daughter, the truest friend I know. Her personal goals have always revolved around caring for others. She doesn’t do this out of obligation, but because human service work and caring for her loved ones fulfills her.
Disclaimer: I am a Boston girl/New Englander, born and bred. I am a Patriots fan, and I like Tom Brady (I honestly don’t understand how someone could NOT like him, but that’s a different post). I enjoy football, even though my relationship with sports is complicated as I am also a feminist.
I am mad as hell about the Tom Brady suspension.
And it has nothing at all to do with whether or not he cheated.
Jewish women are having a moment. At the end of 2014, Flavorwire published an article entitled “2014 Was—Secretly—The Year of the Jewish Woman.” It profiled Jewish women who made news in culture in the past year: Abbi Glazer and Ilana Jacobson of the Comedy Central show Broad City, Jill Soloway, the writer of the groundbreaking show Transparent, and Jenny Slate, the comedian who starred in the romantic comedy Obvious Child, among others.
Looking down at my beautiful daughter in my arms, I sometimes wonder what on earth took me so long. Bringing her into our lives was a long journey that did not begin with agency and governmental red tape, but with a dream I was afraid to let die. The decision to end our efforts with infertility treatments, though they that were slowly killing my husband and me, was incredibly difficult.
I have an immense amount of respect for more traditional Jewish communities, Ashkenazi and Sephardi alike. Judaism cannot and should not be only one thing; and our culture’s ability to be both united and extraordinarily multi-faceted is part of what makes it so beautiful.
This week’s episode finally brought the moment I’ve been waiting for: when the women’s movement makes its arrival on the scene, if only in passing mention. I practically stood up and cheered when Joan sat, calm but radiating power, on Jim Hobart’s couch and challenged him with the mention of Betty Friedan, the EEOC, and the sit-ins at the Ladies’ Home Journal. It seemed that now, after years of struggling on her own, she had a team of women to back her up.
We’ve all seen—and heard of—the impossible standards to which women are held: be skinny, beautiful, athletic, and put together, but also be “natural” and be “yourself.” Don’t change yourself for a man, but don’t scare him off by being too honest or “real” from the get-go either. Be smart and informed, but don’t let your intelligence outshine his, or else his masculinity might be threatened. Be a perfect mother and wife, but make sure you’re also highly accomplished at work.
Every woman in my family has been on a diet for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of family parties: everyone surrounded by lovingly prepared dishes, saying “oh god, I shouldn’t eat this” and “I’m not eating carbs right now” as they piled their plates with lasagna and bread. That was the deal: diets weren’t really adhered to, but they were talked about incessantly.
After moving from Tel Aviv to Berlin about five years ago, I started noticing that the sheer number of commemorative objects scattered around the city is quite astounding. Berlin has seen more radical changes in the last 150 years then most cities have in the last 1,000. From the Prussians to the German Kaiser, from the Weimar republic to Nazi times and subsequently division and reunification, it is a city of many identities.
So, when prompted with the question, “Which piece of culture would you like history to forget?” I truly couldn’t think of anything. To willingly want to erase a historical cultural record really shows no regard for history at all. The culture we create is a reflection of our values during that period. Books, movies, TV, music, are the most compelling historical records we have of the mood of a society, and this includes the ugly parts.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on August 28, 2016) <http://jwa.org/blog>.