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Family

How Hannah Gadsby Helped Me Reclaim My Omi’s Story

I thought Omi’s story should have been collected because I thought I knew what her story was. I had created an easy narrative that both mythologized and sanctified her. Unknowingly, I forged an account of Omi as a “perfect woman” who spent her days working and her nights taking care of her son.

The (Jewish) Madonna Complex

The Jewish mother loves her children more than anything else, and in this, she wants a better, easier life for her children than she had. Whether that is as origin to our Jewishness, or as learned behavior in the face of bias and antisemitism, it imprints on our mother role and repeats across generations.

It Takes a Village

Over the years, I’ve been to countless bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies. While each one has been unique to the specific teen being honored, all of the services have been catered to the typical Jewish kid: one who can read English and some Hebrew, memorize prayers, and stand at the bimah and speak about about his or her Jewish education and life experiences. In February, I had the honor of being part of a bar mitzvah that was unlike any of the others I had previously attended. My family friend Max became a bar mitzvah without speaking a single word.

The Power of Personal Histories

As an aspiring oral historian, I’ve always gotten chills when listening to recorded interviews. I love the interviewer’s inviting questions, the way the interviewee may leap into a narrative, the chance for the listener to peer into the interviewee’s past, and the powerful, sometimes nostalgic, recollection of a story.

My Personal Imahot

When it comes to grandmothers, I hit the jackpot. My grandmothers are some of the strongest and most incredible women I’ve ever met, and because I come from a blended family, I have three of them! My grandmothers are models of power and grace, and they haven’t sacrificed their passions and values as they’ve aged. They’re all fierce defenders of justice, and I am who I am today largely because of their influence.

Lessons from Savta

I always knew my grandma was pretty cool. As soon as activism became something of interest to me, my mom started telling me stories about her experiences growing up with my grandmother. They never ate Domino’s because the owner had expressed strong anti-choice sentiments; they didn’t eat grapes to support Cesar Chavez; activism was simply ingrained in my mom’s life from a very young age — mostly because of her mom.

Activism in My Genes

My grandma and I have always been close despite only seeing each other a few times a year. I love the time we spend together in New York City and DC seeing Broadway shows, eating cupcakes, and doing jigsaw puzzles. For my entire life she has had a career as an event planner, and as I’ve gotten older she has let me help with events when I can. Although I knew that she had attended the March on Washington and edited a Jewish newspaper, I didn’t know the extent to which activism had played a role in her life.

Does Fixer Upper Need Fixing Up?

HGTV’s Fixer Upper is my guilty pleasure. I could watch the iconic married duo Chip and Joanna “Jo” Gaines renovate houses for hours. They take run-down homes in Waco, Texas, and turn them into something straight off of Pinterest or Etsy. But while the show is certainly entertaining, I take issue with some of the more subliminal messages the show portrays.

A Feminist Tail Fur All

As the oldest of three children, I often see movies directed towards a younger age demographic with my family. For my sister’s ninth birthday party, we took her and a couple of friends to see Zootopia. I walked away from the movie feeling excited, and proud of Disney for their newest movie.

Not So Jewish American Mothers

Loud. Abrasive. Bossy. Great cook. These attributes all contribute to the popular caricature of the “Jewish American Mother.” I know plenty of women who fit this description. I’ve taught their kids on Sunday mornings. I love some of them. I can’t stand some of them. My mother is Jewish, and American, and pretty bossy when she needs to be; but she’s never conformed to this stereotype.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Family." (Viewed on August 17, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/family>.

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