Jul 16 2014
There’s a little Jill Abramson in us all.
The first-ever female executive editor of the New York Times opened up to Cosmopolitan about getting fired from her position and the media brouhaha that followed. Spoiler: Abramson was careful to dance around the reason for her dismissal (though she acknowledged that the way women’s management styles are viewed “is an incredibly interesting subject”). Still, she made it clear that being fired is nothing to be ashamed of:
Is it hard to say I was fired? No. I’ve said it about 20 times, and it’s not. I was in fact insistent that that be publicly clear because I was not ashamed of that. And I don’t think young women–it’s hard, I know–they should not feel stigmatized if they are fired. Especially in this economy people are fired right and left for arbitrary reasons, and there are sometimes forces beyond your control.
We’ve compiled the best snippets from the Cosmo piece for you, but definitely read the full interview here. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 15 2014
I am expecting twins any day now. The excitement is rising and the worries that these babies may arrive too soon are being relieved day by day. But when my colleagues offered to give me a baby shower months ago, I cringed.
As a rabbi, the idea of disappointing every bubbe in my congregation by having a baby shower did not feel right. Members of my own family had already asked, “You’re not going to have a baby shower, right?” As if that is a question and not a statement. Jewish women are not afraid to share our opinions, and often baby showers are simply taboo.
The conversation continued and the other rabbi’s wife, who happens to be a mentor and friend, reminded me that communities like to celebrate with their rabbis, so we had to come up with something. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 14 2014
I am 42.
Many of us have read Tom Junod’s Esquire article, “In Praise of 42-Year-Old Women.” In it, the author declares that 42 is the most alluring age of women this year.
Yay, me! Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 11 2014
This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Pinhas. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.
This week, a dear old friend came to visit. We haven’t seen each other for a long time, but we seem to be on the same mama schedule–we both have 2-year-olds and are pregnant again.
We sat outside drinking iced tea, talking about birth and motherhood and the 15 years since we met. We talked about how confident, driven, and maybe a little entitled we both were in our early 20s. How much has changed since then. And how much of what we’ve learned, we’ve learned from our kids.
Both committed to a natural birth, we ended up with C-sections. Both committed to exclusively breastfeeding our babies, we ended up with serious nursing problems that made that goal physically impossible. And we’d both carved out wonderful and unusual careers that grew out of our passion for our work, involving tons of travel, and have turned out to require some major re-adjustment–especially as we head into two-young-kids territory. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 30 2014
“The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.” –Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her dissent of “Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.”
Today, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling that says the government can’t require certain employers to provide insurance coverage for birth control and emergency contraception that conflict with their religious beliefs. The case centers around Hobby Lobby, a self-proclaimed Christian corporation and chain of craft stores, and their refusal to cover birth control for their employees. These Supreme Court cases can be tricky to fully understand at times, so let’s break it down a bit.
Some background: Hobby Lobby, which has used their Christian values to explain away their lack of Hanukkah decorations in the past, decided that once the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA, aka Obamacare) made it mandatory to cover birth control and emergency contraception, they were having no part of it, and took it to the Supreme Court. Then, after reviewing all the evidence, five out of the nine judges ruled in Hobby Lobby’s favor, noting that in some cases, religious values was enough to get out of covering contraception care for female employees. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 23 2014
One of the challenges of being female and Orthodox is straddling the line between halachic modesty, artistic expression, and personal empowerment. Take it from Mina Black, a professional dancer and Orthodox mother of four.
“Being an artist in our community, a dancing artist, is a very odd thing. You’re not allowed to express your body. It’s not modest. A woman is supposed to be covered, humble,” says Black.
One of 14 siblings, Mina was raised in a haredi Jerusalem neighborhood where professional dance was strictly forbidden, and she spent a lifetime struggling to find a niche for her talent. Today she lives with her family in Long Island, where she owns a ballet studio for Orthodox girls, blending prayer and spirituality with the art of dance. Read the rest of this entry →
May 21 2014
Eight years ago, I left my job as an elementary school teacher in Boston to move to Philadelphia where my boyfriend lived. I could barely get the words out of my mouth when people asked me why I was moving, sure that someone was going to come around the corner and revoke my feminist card if I admitted that I was moving, without a job lined up, for my boyfriend who I’d known for less than a year.
I did it anyway, I survived, and it got easier the more times I told people. While driving the U-Haul from Boston to Philly, I was offered a job in Philly in Jewish communal service, which I accepted, and I began my new life in a new city. I even used my anecdote about moving under unknown circumstances to counsel many young professionals through some scary life decisions. Fast forward a bit, and my boyfriend and I got married, had one kid, then had another kid, and it stopped seeming so crazy that I had left Boston “for a guy.”
This month, I have once again made the decision to leave my job because it’s the right thing for my life rather than the right thing for my career. As anyone who’s worked in Jewish communal service knows, this sector isn’t known for its work/life balance or generous compensation. Instead, we do it because we care, and what we give up in free time or money, we gain in nachas by giving back to our people. Unfortunately, nachas can’t put the kids to bed at night while I’m out creating positive Jewish experiences for my childless peers. Read the rest of this entry →
May 14 2014
I’m a feminist. A hard-core, there-is-no-inherent-gender kind of feminist. A Judith Butler-reading, Gloria Steinem-worshipping, Ms. Magazine-subscribing feminist. Heck, I don’t just read them, I write for feminist publications.
I also work part-time from home, bake challah every week, and teach my kids to use a sewing machine. (That last one, that’s really just Benjamin, whose vast stuffed animal family needs a lot of outfits and pillows.) Last weekend, I whipped up a purse out of a pair of old jeans while homemade vegetable stock bubbled away in my Crockpot. Sometimes we make our own pasta.
I’m like Caroline Ingalls in yoga capris, except with boughten underwear and indoor plumbing. Read the rest of this entry →
May 13 2014
A lot of the time that I read Jezebel, the preeminent feminist blog of our time, I find myself nodding along in agreement with its stances of equality, feminism, and personal choice, as well as its clever takes on pop culture (even if it’s a tad too snarky at times for my own taste). Jezebel generally offers commentary that I both recognize and learn from.
And then sometimes, I read something and feel so extraordinarily distant from the prevalent sentiment being shared that it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around this alternate world. In honor of Mother’s Day, the website posted an article on the moms who express remorse over having children on the social network Whisper, a clearinghouse of anonymous confessions that range from the hilarious to the horrible. Some of these “momfessions” are understandable, if tinged with a little sadness: “I’m a mom, but I obsess over my old life. I just miss it so much”; “My daughter ruined my body;” and “I truly love my kids, but I’m starting to regret having them so young.” Others bordered on humorous: “I read my daughter’s tweets, she doesn’t know. She seems like a real asshole.” But some were just plain appalling, like this one: “I hate my son. I didn’t want a boy. I wanted a girl.”
But what really struck me was the comments section, at last count nearing 1,500, and which did vary but mostly stuck to one theme: “Honestly, most parents I know IRL, say this stuff to me all the time. That they love their kids, but if they could take it back….When we tell them we don’t want kids, they say, ‘Good… DON’T DO IT!’” and, “I didn’t want kids when I got married 32 years ago. Now, I’m really happy to say I didn’t give in to the societal pressures that still existed then. So many of my friends whispered ‘You were right’ after their kids were born.’” And this: “I rarely hear anyone say anything positive about parenting.” Read the rest of this entry →
Meet an energetic and thoughtful woman who opposed the suffragist movement: she’s the tireless writer, advocate, activist, fundraiser, author, playwright, and art critic who founded Barnard College, New York City’s first liberal arts college for women. Historian Myrna Goldenberg tells her story:
Annie Nathan Meyer, born in 1867 and a descendent of Gershom Mendes Seixas, a Jewish Revolutionary War patriot, received less than six months of formal schooling. She educated herself, later boasting she had read all of Charles Dickens by age 7. As a young woman, she enrolled in the newly established Columbia College Collegiate Course for Women. In 1888, Annie begin her campaign to build Barnard with a passionate 2,500-word letter to The Nation, arguing that New York could make no real claim to culture without a women’s liberal arts college. What started as a seven-year plan, she accomplished in two.
Along the way, she developed a “separate spheres” ideology about women’s roles: she did not believe the suffragists’ claims that social and political change would ensue when women could vote and opposed their pacifism, and she wrote extensively about her views. Turns out she was also intensely jealous of her sister, Maud, a progressive activist and well-known suffragist. However, after the 19th Amendment passed, she joined the League of Women Voters. Read the rest of this entry →