Nov 5 2013
As I have written about here, I have started taking my sons on approximately once-a-month family Shabbat sleepovers to religious neighborhoods in Los Angeles. We stay with friends/acquaintances who aren’t intimidated by the fact that we’re vegan, my sons bring along their little travel KidKits, and we learn about another family and how they celebrate Shabbat.
This past weekend, we had our Shabbat sleepover in a very religious neighborhood. Like even more religious than I am used to, which you would probably describe as Moderate Modern Orthodox. This was not that. Everyone was very nice and welcoming, and I didn’t feel unwelcome at all, but it was very different from what I’m used to. It was more like ultra-Orthodox. Streimels, you know, those big furry black hats. And I might have been the only woman I saw with my hair peeking out from under my tichel (headscarf), since all of the women in this neighborhood wear expensive sheitls (wigs) or hats with no hair showing.
Here are the Top 7 Things I learned this past weekend.
1. Heads Up. Some women never uncover their heads. Like ever. Meaning: they even sleep with their heads covered. There’s a whole reason, it’s not just someone misunderstanding the rules of halakha (Jewish law). The woman who described it to me is a very educated, smart, and interesting person. I had never met someone who never uncovers her head except in the shower, literally. Fascinating. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 25 2013
I have written a lot about Jewish women and feminism and what it means to both advocate for women in a patriarchal society as well as advocate for women who appreciate halakhic structure in their lives. I consider myself both a feminist in the classical sense and a woman who appreciates halakhic Judaism in the classical sense. Sure, it’s an unusual mix, but you know what? There are no rules about how any of us “should” be.
I don’t shave my legs and never have but I also like covering my head in synagogue and praying separately from men by a mehitzah (divider). I hate misogyny and patriarchy and feel oppressed by it daily, but I also celebrate the distinctions of sexuality and modesty that Judaism lays out for men and women. I love Hilary Clinton and Gloria Steinem but I also love Maimonides and all of the Sages of Judaism who lived in times when women had no voices. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 23 2013
Have you ever had this happen: you know a mom from your neighborhood, or from shul, or from the park, and you have no idea what she does besides being a mom and then you find out she has a really neat job?
This happened to me recently. A woman I know from a shul I go to once in a while–a very funky egalitarian but very religiously and spiritually committed community–approached me about a book she wrote and asked if the Kveller audience might be interested in hearing about it.
“She wrote a book?” I’m thinking. “I had no idea she was a writer.”
Turns out this nice quiet mom of three girls is a professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion! (These are all neat things!)
Her specialty, it turns out, is sociolinguistics (a field I am extremely interested in), Jewish languages (also something I am super interested in), and Orthodox Jews (also interesting since I like halacha (Jewish law) and observe Judaism in a way many Modern Orthodox people do). This woman is neat, right? Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 4 2013
My crocheted kippah.
This is the first in a month-long series of posts Mayim will be writing about the Jewish aspects of divorce. Up first: head coverings.
I was raised in a traditional Jewish household attending a Reform synagogue. My mother was raised Orthodox but left traditional Judaism pretty much as soon as she could.
When we lit Shabbat candles, my mother covered her head with a doily and I had a matching one so I could be like her.
My mom’s older sister was very religious, so she and all of her daughters covered their heads all the time in tichels (headscarves), hats, and, for special occasions, fancy wigs. To me, head coverings were for super religious people. I had no problem wearing a small kippah sometimes when making blessings as a child, and one of my cousins in Israel even crocheted me one with my name on it which I treasured and still have and treasure. I saw nothing strange about women wearing kippahs, since in Reform and Conservative circles, it was acceptable. Why not? Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 24 2013
Allison Josephs, the woman behind Jewinthecity.com.
I’ve written about Jewinthecity.com here before. Allison Josephs, the woman behind Jewinthecity, is a one-woman dynamo machine of kiruv (outreach), making videos and speaking all over the country about her journey to Orthodoxy and how her life has been enriched and blessed from the changes she has made.
I know Allison because when she was working at Partners in Torah after I had my first son, she was “matched” to me as my study partner, and it was from our relationship that I made some significant and really rewarding changes in my life towards a better understanding of traditional Judaism. Allison has been my sort of Jewish go-to for everything from how to handle my grandmother’s funeral to my sons’ bris to the changing expectations on me as I have become more prominent on the red carpet. Read the rest of this entry →
May 24 2012
This is going to be the post that people speak of if God forbid I ever have a mini-breakdown, or a major one for that matter.
It’s been a long week. It’s been a long few weeks. It’s been a big couple of months.
My book came out in March which was very hectic and fun and good. Then TIME magazine came out and a whole new set of publicity was thrust at me. CNN and NPR Affiliates and Anderson Cooper came calling, and there were all of these amazing opportunities to talk about my book, about the natural physiology of mammalian parenting, and breastfeeding. It’s good. But it’s also led to a tremendous amount of negative comments and insults being hurled at me through articles written about me, or referencing me. I wrote about it here, because it’s kind of been intense in my world. Read the rest of this entry →