Last week Jews celebrated the High Holy Days by pausing and reflecting on the past year, both personally and as a community.
It is my third day here as a JWA intern. It is a privilege to be working at such a fantastic organization, and I am so grateful to everyone at JWA for their warm welcome. In my first-ever Jewesses with Attitude blog-post, I want to take this opportunity to share with you a little bit about my background and why I am so pleased to be here at the Jewish Women’s Archive.
I wanted to write this post about women and Yom Kippur, as I often have done for other Jewish holidays, on topics such as what roles women should play during the holiday, stories about women associated with the holiday, etc. But I searched, and was kind of surprised that I found nothing in particular to write about.
The meal that breaks the fast of Yom Kippur is one that is needed to revive the body after a long day of reflection and repentance, and the food which one eats to break the fast is an important consideration. The meal that is served after the fast should consist of dishes that are light on the stomach and easy to digest after this long period without food. Every community has their own traditions concerning the food that is usually served at this meal. Within the Ashkenazi community the fast may be broken with a dairy meal including things such as bagels and cream cheese or coffee cake.
On the first day of Rosh Hashana last week, I listened to a congregant at my synagogue chant Haftorah, the additional reading from Jewish scriptures that follows the reading of the Torah on Shabbat and holidays. This particular Haftorah continues to hold great relevance and importance for Jews today, and particularly for Jewish women. It tells the story of Hannah and her desire to bear a child. In the story, we learn that Hannah and Peninah are both the wives of a man named Elkanah. Peninah goads Hannah because Hannah, like many of the Jewish matriarchs, is barren.
In the space between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we are inundated with messages about self-reflection, our responsibilities as Jews in the world, and our level of involvement with Jewish life.
After the celebration of the New Year and feasting on the many foods that make up a central part of its celebration, comes Yom Kippur and the time to fast. Despite the fact that this day is concerned with the abstention from eating, food still plays an important role in the observance of this holiday. One needs to fortify themselves with the proper food prior to the beginning of the fast in order to help sustain themselves through the day. Ideally foods should be filling and those that are salty or spicy are usually avoided so as not to cause excessive thirst.
As I may have previously mentioned, baking is one of my favorite things to do. When I first entered the kitchen, baking is what I began with. It came easy to me and I knew that if followed the instructions and measurements outlined in a recipe, the results would, more likely than not, turn out to be delicious. I have always felt more confident when it comes to baking and because of this it has become an activity that I try to do as often as possible.
The cannon of Jewish recipes is an extensive one that spreads across many places and generations. Many of the recipes contained therein have been cooked by generations of women with only small changes in the way they have been prepared. Many of these recipes have come to be viewed as traditional dishes, prepared on holidays, Shabbat and other special occasions. They have come to play an important role at these times and are often specifically associated with these occasions.
For those of you in or around New York, or looking for an excuse to visit New York, put this exhibit on your calendars!
The end of summer marks the beginning of a relatively short but tumultuous season for the high school student: the college application process. The Common Application went up August 1, and with it came a slew of essays that students across the country must finish by January. Topics range from choice of major to hobbies to why you want to go to a particular school. I've been slowly working my way through them, and I found myself trying to answer the question of what activities I plan to pursue at college.
I don’t quite know how it happened, but the nights are getting cooler and there’s that feeling of fall in the air. Summer is winding down and with that comes the reds, yellow and orange colors of the changing leaves, thicker sweaters and of course the High Holidays. With the New Year almost upon us, attention is beginning to shift to the upcoming celebrations and of course what will be served at the festive meals that will be part of the holiday.
I just came home from a trip to my local suburban mall with two friends from elementary school. The mall is looking good – the walls are an upscale beige accented with stained wood, and new stores like Coach and BCBG emphasize that those who shop here must have ample money to spend. The mall is clearly marked as Jewish, too, with shoppers wearing long skirts, kippas, or less modest clothing adorned with Jewish symbols and summer camp logos.
Recently, I saw Eleanor Reissa, a talented and well-known Yiddish actress and performer, sing "My Yiddishe Momme" to a standing ovation. Mind you, the crowd was entirely over seventy and the children of Polish Jewish immigrants to North and South America. To help pass the time, I thought about that nice tough character, Sophie Tucker, who made the song into a bi-lingual top five hit in 1928.
Evil tongues, gossip and snark; who is not guilty of slithering into their seductive arms? I refused to see the movie “Mean Girls.” I was not, however, immune to its cultural reverberations and its ever-popular subject matter: catty girls destroying one another with vituperative snark, often in the cafeteria accompanied by sidelong glares and diet sodas. Jews and students of Judaism may be familiar with snark under its Talmudic pseudonym lashon hara – evil language/tongue.
To mark the 5th anniverary of Hurricane Katrina, we got in touch with JWA Board member Carol Wise and her granddaughter Zoe Oreck, two Jewish women who experienced the storm and its aftermath first-hand. Carol Wise has served as President of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, and Chair of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce. She now serves on the Executive Committee and Board of the Hillel International Foundation and as President of Tulane Hillel. Zoe Oreck is a senior at the University of Georgia majoring in PR and History.
In late August of 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, I was lying in a hospital bed in Boston getting nasty medicine through an IV line and receiving all nourishment through another tube. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself until I turned on the generally useless TV and saw what was – and was not – happening in New Orleans. The images of desperate people on rooftops, the misery at the Superdome, water flooding into Charity Hospital made me wonder if my illness and the treatment I was receiving for it were causing me to have delusions.
This weekend we lead up to the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans on the morning of August 29th, 2005 killing more than 1,700 people and displacing hundreds of thousands.
Today is the 90th anniversary of the 19th Ammendment giving women the right to vote, and has become known as "Women's Equality Day." Jewish women undoubtedly played pivotal roles in the suffrage movement. Take a look at their stories of activism on jwa.org:
Your life is a mess. You’re tired of the routine, you’re constantly craving more of what you’ve already attained, and you find true satisfaction in nothing and in no one. Well here’s the quick fix:
Plan an expensive get-away.
No, actually, scratch that—plan three expensive get-aways.
But it’s not just the location that’s getting to you. You’re also sick of your significant other. So dump the schlub, give no real reason for your decision to break-up, and then…
Earlier this week, a post on The Sisterhood blog (with whom JWA regularly cross-posts) publicized a call from Women of the Wall for photographs of women with Torahs as part of a solidarity movement with WOW, who have been subject to harassment and arrest over the past several months in their attempts to hold egalitarian Rosh Chodesh services at Robinson’s Arch in Jerusalem.
Barbie was created in 1959 by Jewish business woman Ruth Handler. She was an Amazonian creation: a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, big-busted American beauty. She loved to drive pink convertibles; her wardrobe and shape-shifting abilities were astonishing. By the 80s, she was highly multicultural and had an endless variety of career paths open to her, from model to mad professor. Nothing is off-limits to ever trail-blazing Barbie, not even tefillin or a burqa.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on April 28, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog>.