Aliza Hausman is a first-generation Dominican-American Latina Orthodox Jewish convert or “Jewminicana” who discovered she was born Jewish of Sephardic Jewish Turkish ancestry post-conversion. She is also a writer, blogger, educator & speaker. This blog chronicles her thoughts on being Hispanic & Jewish, focusing on identity, Judaism, Jews of colors, Latinos, diversity, race, ethnicity, conversion to Judaism, culture, multiculturalism, illness, disability, books, films, news & more….
Whether or not you have, I bet you'll more than enjoy hearing Reform-then Conservative-then Orthodox Jewish convert and Italian-Irish American comedian Yisrael Campbell telling you about the THREE circumcisions ("a fetish!," he says) and three conversions that made him the Jew he is today. Below is the trailer for the film "Circumcise Me." Campbell is currently doing an off-Broadway version "Circumcise Me, the play" at the Bleeker Theater.
If you go this Sunday, you'll see me there! Go to Broadwayoffers.com use the code CM25. It's $25 a ticket (plus 1.50 facility fee).
Thank you, NY Times for issuing Corrections on the article I was featured in on Saturday!
An article on Saturday about converts to Judaism and their struggles over Christmas misstated an account of interactions between Aliza Hausman and her relatives. Ms. Hausman, who converted several years ago, said her Dominican grandmother used to ask her how she was celebrating Christmas, not why she was not. Ms. Hausman said that on Christmas Day, she still calls her grandmother, not her mother. And Washington Heights is where Ms. Hausman grew up; it is not where her grandmother lives.
Wow, I'm in the NY Times in an after-Christmas piece called: "Why Is This Christmas Different From All Others?"! The piece focuses on converts to Judaism and "the Christmas dilemma" and how they deal (or don't) with their non-Jewish relatives at that particular time of year.
I was really worried about the piece, worried I would be terribly misquoted and for the most part, it went okay. Unfortunately, there were some glaring errors that I need to point out in the piece.
The most glaring error is this line: "She still calls her mother on Christmas Day, but neither of them mention the holiday. " I haven't spoken to my mother since I was 17 years old! If you don't know why then you haven't been reading this blog long enough.
"When Ms. Hausman used to call her Dominican grandmother in Washington Heights to wish her “Feliz Navidad,” she would inevitably be asked why she was not celebrating Christmas."
My grandmother never asked me why I wasn't celebrating Christmas, she would ask me HOW I was celebrating Christmas and I would have to explain again and again that I converted and Jews don't celebrate Christmas. Also, my grandmother does not live in Washington Heights. She did but she hadn't lived in Washington Heights for years when I made the decision to convert. (This year, by the way, I called my grandmother on Christmas Eve, along with other relatives in my extended family and not a word was said about Christmas.)
I really wish that the article had touched upon which movements within Judaism everyone was converting to but I can understand why it didn't. Unfortunately, I think it will confuse a lot of people because I think people (outside of Judaism) will read this and not understand that Jewish fiances in the Conservative movement and Orthodox movement wouldn't be making Christmas ham for their future in-laws. Also, that no one I know, as an Orthodox Jew, has a Hanukkah bush (though that the blue-and-silver decorations was a cute touch).
Like most articles on conversion, there is also the implication that everyone converted for marriage with the brief exception of me and another convert, Mr. Santamaria.
The article seemed to stress that converts somehow miss Christmas. I remember the reporter asking me, "But isn't there anything you miss about Christmas?" There was this surprised tone in her voice. I thought about it and I said, "I guess I miss getting together with family the way we used to but then we're doing that still, just in a different way."
I wish she'd asked me WHY I didn't miss Christmas! I would have told her that in Judaism, there seems to be a celebration of some holidy every second of every month. Shabbat is a weekly holiday! Sacrificing one holiday, however major to the Christian/secular calendar, for a whole year of endless Jewish holidays, well, it seemed like a good mathematical decision. :)
Now, since I've done freelance work, please don't think that I disliked the article overall. I appreciate how hard it is to get all the details right and weave everything together. Already I've gotten lots of new lurkers on my blog though not so many seemed to understand the basics about Judaism. I guess I'll just have to explain myself a little more when I write from now on so nobody gets lost.
My cold/flu has finally abated! I can't believe how many Kleenex tissue boxes I went through in the past three weeks. Hopefully, my fibromyalgia, which was exacerbated by the cold/flu, will settle back into more manageable pain levels.
In the meantime, as usual, all the latest news on conversion has been piling in my inbox. Probably, you've already seen a lot of these pieces. My apologies to my loyal readers!
In the future, I hope to do these roundups more regularly so that they won't be so time
consuming (this one took me two hours). In the meantime, if you're hungry for up-to-the-minute updates on conversion in Israel, check out "Religion and State in Israel" where Joel Katz links to news as it happens.
Really old news now but I was pretty sick of seeing the word shiksa repeated over and over and over again in the Jewish and secular press when discussing Chelsea Clinton’s upcoming marriage to a Jew. And personally, since all the articles were based purely on speculation on whether Chelsea would convert or not before marriage, I didn’t get the “news” aspect at all.
Religious hypocrisy in the Orthodox world turned this woman off to the possibility of an Orthodox conversion. Don’t agree with the piece but it’s an interesting response to the JFS situation in Britain.
Huh? According to Conservative and Orthodox Judaism, the child of a non-Jewish mother is not Jewish but more and more non-Jewish mothers are choosing to raise their children Jewish and even eventually converting themselves and their children.
Mr. Trepp was born in Little Rock, Ark. All he knows about his birth parents, he said, is that his mother was Puerto Rican and his father an Italian Jew. He was adopted as an infant by religious Jews and was converted to Judaism. The family lived first in Washington Heights and then in Far Rockaway, Queens.
This article about adopting non-Jewish children and converting them and the obstacles parents now face as the conversion process becomes more difficult, even for children, I wonder if people will reconsider adopting non-Jewish children or even bother to convert them at all.
“When the British noblemen and ladies formerly known as Law Lords became justices of the Supreme Court, they abandoned the trappings of formality such as wigs and robes. Thus Lord Phillips, president of the court, was bareheaded and attired in a business suit when he delivered Wednesday's historic decision that London's eminent Jews' Free School, known as JFS, could no longer use Orthodox criteria of Jewish identity as the basis for its admissions policies.”
Is the British Supreme Court confusing Judaism with Christianity? Non-Orthodoxy weighs in on whether or not the recent victory in a court case to get a child who converted Reform into an Orthodox day school is actually a victory at all.
“Rabbi Leib Tropper, a founder of the hard-line conversion group Eternal Jewish Family (EJF), announced that he had stepped down as its leader when allegations surfaced in news outlets that he had engaged in sexual misconduct with a woman while guiding her conversion. Tropper was among those responsible for major policy changes by the Israeli rabbinate that sparked a worldwide tightening of conversion regulations.” As Rabbi Seth Farber points out in the piece, Rabbi Tropper was most well-known for de-legitimizing the conversions of others, even going as far as to annul a conversion he had overseen because the woman in question had worn pants.
Profiling: Exploring the Faces of Diversity within the Jewish Community The Minneapolis Jewish Film Festival and the Tychman Shapiro Gallery at the Sabes Jewish Community Center Seek Short Films for Film Festival Competition and Group Exhibition Filmmakers from all backgrounds are invited to submit short films (10 minutes and under) reflecting elements of diversity within Jewish identity. The best films will be chosen for a screening at the Minneapolis Jewish Film Festival. The films will also become a part of the exhibit at the Tychman Shapiro Gallery.
How to Apply
Please submit the following materials: 1. Application Form (see next page) 2. Film Resume 3. Artist Statement 4. Description of how your work relates to the exhibit (200 – 500 words)
Film should be up to 10 minutes long and submitted in DVD format, in aspect ratio 16x9. Please submit two DVD copies per film submission. All submissions will be considered as final work and should be festival screening quality. Entries accepted will be screened on an evening at the upcoming Minneapolis Jewish Film Festival (MJFF) and during the gallery reception. To find out more about the festival go to www.mplsjff.org.
Application and film submission deadline: January 15th, 2010 Notification to film applicants: February 15, 2010 Screening of films: MJFF April 8-18 Exhibition opens: May 6, 2010 Artist Reception and Screening of films: May 9, 2010 Poetry event with TIC: June 20, 2010 Exhibition closes: June 24, 2010
Sabes Jewish Community Center, 4330 S. Cedar Lake Road Minneapolis, MN 55416, www.sabesjcc.org
Name Address City, State, Zip Phone E-mail Address
Submissions must be complete and received by January 15th, 2010 in order to be eligible.
Checklist: 1. Application Form 2. Artist Statement 3. Film Resume 4. Description of short film 5. Two DVDs per film submission in aspect ratio 16x9 6. Self-Addressed Stamped Envelop (if applicable) Questions about film criteria should be emailed to Miryam Kabakov at email@example.com.
Film Applicants Mail submissions to: Sabes Jewish Community Center Sabes Jewish Community Center Film Festival Director, Miryam Kabakov Profiling Exhibit 4330 South Cedar Lake Road Minneapolis, MN 55416
Though it's not about this week's parsha (Torah portion), I came across this piece and I couldn't resist using it on the blog.
In Sefer Tehilim (146:9) David HaMelech teaches us that God “shomer (protects) Gerim (converts)”. The Hebrew verb ‘shomer’ means ‘to watch, guard, protect’ and it also means ‘to save’ - in the manner of “I guard my money cautiously” and “I am saving it for when it will be needed.” In this light, according to the first meaning we understand that God protects Gerim, but according to the second understanding “what is God saving them for”?!
The Ger (convert to Judaism) presents Judaism with a tremendously perplexing problem that Chazal grapple with at great lengths. This problem can be stated in one sentence. How can someone outside of Judaism - i.e. someone not born Jewish - come to embrace the Torah. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like such an overwhelming dilemma. If a person through rational, logical thinking comes to the conclusion that Torah is true and that it is the only valid value system in existence, then surely it is expected that he would accept it and that he would be accepted. When explained this way there is no obvious counter argument. If, however, in understanding that the Torah is ‘n’tah b’tocheinu’ (literally: planted within us - as found in the blessing of the Torah) we discover some of the problem. With these two words we are told that Torah is in our genes, literally; it is genetic. How then are we going to explain the existence of the Ger?
Secondly, Chazal is divided in determining when exactly did Yithro, the paradigmatic convert, join Am Yisrael. Was it before Har Sinai and the giving of the Torah, as his story’s location in the Torah would seem to suggest? Or is it after the receiving of the Torah, as much internal evidence seems to suggest? Beyond the seemingly scholarly need to clarify Torah ambiguities lies an extremely fundamental question. Did Yithro come to the Torah before Am Yisrael received it and brought it into this world, and thus made it available to the world? Or did Yithro acquire the Torah before Am Yisrael brought it into the world and therefore he would be on the level of, say, the Avot.
The Torah itself intensifies the problem because it is very clear to the Torah that the Ger, even after he/she converts, still has some aspect that causes him/her to remain distinct within Am Yisrael. The word Ger is written in the Torah forty-eight times. We interpret these numerous references, rightfully, on God’s insistence that Am Yisrael treat the Ger with exceptional care and understanding, but nevertheless the emphasis indicates separate identity. The most obvious example of the Ger having individual status and not being included or absorbed within Am Yisrael is found in Sefer D’varim Parshat N’tzavim (29:9,10) where the categories of Am Yisrael are delineated, one of which is the Ger. In a word, in a world in which the Torah has mystery, likewise in the Torah the Ger has mystery.
Chazal are not at peace with this dilemma and their interpretations and reactions pursue the extremes. From genuine praise to seemingly genuine denunciation, they wrestle and grapple with the Ger in all his complexity as an entity, in all that his existence means for Am Yisrael, and how, practically, he affects and influences Am Yisrael and is affected and influenced by Am Yisrael. What is clear, however, is that the juxtaposition of Parshat Yithro to Matan Torah - regardless of whether he came before or after - means that the Ger is integral to the Torah and its existence.
To understand the Ger the Torah demands that we read between the lines. Significantly, the Torah as much as it is a contractual document, it is even more a relationship - a love relationship between God and existence in general and between God and Am Yisrael in particular. Within the expression of that sanctity stands the Ger, much in the same way that a child (or any outsider) can physically and emotionally stand within the embrace or proximity of two who love each other very deeply. He is outside yet included; he is affected, usually profoundly so.
We learn about Yithro as Ger in Parshat Yithro. There the Torah introduces him saying that “Yithro heard what God did for Moshe and [Am] Yisrael, His people, because He took them out of Egypt.” Yithro responded by going to where Moshe and Am Yisrael were encamped. Specifically, the Torah teaches us that Yithro came to Moshe to the Midbar (wilderness, of which desert is one kind) where he [Moshe] was camped. Since Moshe (and Am Yisrael) were obviously in the Midbar, the word “Midbar” creates a redundancy which Rashi points out and clarifies. To the Midbar: “ [Didn’t] we also know that he [Moshe] was in the Midbar? Instead it [the word Midbar] is coming to teach us Yithro’s praise. [What is that?] He [Yithro] had been living in and at the epitome of honor and exclaim in the world, yet his heart urged him to go to the Midbar - an unformed desolation - to hear words of Torah.”
In this one word Rashi opens up the whole understanding of what Yithro did and what Yithro is. With the inclusion of this one single word the Torah speaks volumes. Oblivious to the argument (that has already started) about when Yithro came and at what prompting, the Torah juxtaposes two words, Yithro and Midbar. Yithro, explains Rashi, meant all the acclaim, accomplishments, fulfillment, success, honor, and glory that are achievable in this world. Nothing was beyond his grasp and nothing was denied him. With full awareness of this, the parsha begins, “Yithro heard what God did…”, to which Rashi says that his “heart urged” him. What does it mean that his “heart urged” him? It means either that Yithro had already ‘internalized’ what he heard, or that Yithro had been listening with his heart. Yithro, the embodiment of worldly striving, leaves the epicenter of civilization for a place of unformed desolation - he literally went from one pole to its opposite.
How many people heard what Yithro heard? It wasn’t like the splitting of the Reed Sea or the destruction of the Egyptian armed forces was unknown to the world at large. It wasn’t exactly a secret that well over a million plus people had departed unimpeded the crushing grip of Pharaoh’s regime. It wasn’t exactly unknown that these same million plus people were surviving, succeeding, and progressing in the Midbar - an unformed desolation. Surely Yithro heard like everyone else all the media coverage. Surely Yithro heard all of the upper echelon government military and political analysis. Surely Yithro heard all the evaluations of the leading minds and intellects of what had occurred.
Who heard?! God teaches us that Yithro heard. What did Yithro hear? Yithro heard beyond what the ear and the mind hear; Yithro heard the urging of his heart. Yithro heard that which only the heart can hear. Yithro heard love. Yithro heard the love of God moving in this world; the love of God coming to act and rest on His people. Yithro, the embodiment of civilization, left the epitome of civilization to go to the Midbar - an unformed desolation. Why did he follow his heart? Because he wanted to hear words of Torah, because he wanted to hear God’s love for His people, because he wanted to hear God’s love letter.
Perhaps we’ll never really know whether Yithro came before or after the giving of the Torah. Perhaps we’ll never really know whether it was before Har Sinai that Yithro’s heart heard God’s love that fills all creation, or if it only was after Har Sinai that Yithro’s heart heard God’s love pouring out for His people. Does it matter? Does it really matter why Yithro gave up everything? Isn’t it sufficient to know that when it came to Torah, Yithro followed his heart?!
Although Avraham is the forefather of Am Yisrael, in the Torah Avraham is not known as a Jew but as an “E’vri”. E’vri (from the root ayin beit resh) is that which passes over, that which goes beyond. Avraham went from the constraints of this world - as man knows it - to the world as God knows it. Avraham went beyond. So, too, the Ger - as Yithro epitomized - goes beyond.
So for what does God save the Gerim? He saves them to prove that it’s still possible, that it’s all very real. He saves them to show that not only is it possible but to show that all that God is waiting for is for all of us to be E’vrim - for all us to go beyond.
What DOES a Jew do on Christmas Eve? There have been years after my conversion when I have been so ensconced in the Jewish world that I didn't even remember that December 24 and December 25 had any significance to anyone, much less to myself at one time and my family.
But this year, my sister B. has moved back from Ohio with her husband and my other sister, A. and I were really concerned that they would be lonely for Christmas. Every year, after all the Hanukkah fanfare is over, I can tell that my other sister A. is also kind of lonely on Christmas. Growing up, Christmas was a time for family, large turkey dinners ala Thanksgiving, and presents. Now it's just a regular day for me but not really because on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it's pretty hard to find something to do, much less someone to hang out with. Even my friends who aren't Christian are doing something with family on Christmas.
So, we decided that Christmas Eve we are all going to go see Avatar 3D: The IMAX EXPERIENCE!!! (since we have a family tradition of seeing movies on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Thanksgiving). Afterwards, we'll go for Chinese food (since that's an American Jewish tradition, Chinese food on Christmas!).
The next day is Christmas, which falls on Shabbos this year, and we considered getting together for a meal but my sister A. warned my sister B. that we wouldn't be doing anything Christmas-like at my house--no carols, no turkey, no dairy mashed potatoes.
Apparently, the fact that we wouldn't have Christmas carols wasn't a problem, but the dairy mashed potatoes were. This year we all got together for Thanksgiving and my sister B. and her husband were upset that they couldn't have their traditional macaroni and cheese and dairy mashed potatoes with the turkey. Apparently this is a pretty big deal to them. So, now instead of spending Shabbos with us as she usually does, my sister A. will be going over to my sister's house to celebrate Christmas though she normally spends Shabbos with us.
Lucky for us, our family is pretty small. It's been a long, long time since we got together with extended family on Christmas. I don't even call my extended family on Christmas because when I did one year, my grandmother just sounded more depressed. She asked, "What are you doing today?" I said, "Remember, we don't celebrate Christmas. We'll probably go for a movie." Poor Grandma nearly dropped the phone.
But this year, with my sister and her husband back in town, I really felt like an interfaith family. Because the moment I converted, my family became an interfaith family. That I'm no longer celebrating Christmas changes the family dynamic. Everyone sends me Hanukkah cards now, presents in Hanukkah wrapping paper (in fact, my sisters and I all refer to presents given at this time of year as "Hanukkah presents," so there are no longer Christmas presents in our family).
The first year I was in the conversion process I was really uncomfortable with Christmas. I went cold turkey and my family understood. My sisters just came along for Hanukkah events. Every year after that I spent December in Los Angeles with my husband's family. This tradition began after our wedding over Hanukkah 2006 mostly overshadowed Christmas and we left New York for sheva brachot in Los Angeles. Well, not completely overshadowed, my Jewish friends and my sisters could be seen singing Christmas carols in the hotel lobby before the wedding.
But now in solidarity, my sisters complain whenever anyone wishes them a "Merry Christmas!" My sister A. now responds to every "Merry Christmas" with a "Happy Hanukkah!" because as she says, "My family's Jewish!" Yes, indeed, her family, part of it, is Jewish now but not just Jewish...which is why she keeps a menorah at my house and a Christmas tree at my other sister's house.
The first year I was in the conversion process, I was really upset that this time of year most people, most cashiers and store clerks, said "Merry Christmas" to everyone instead of the more inclusive "Happy Holidays!" Probably, I responded to every "Merry Christmas" with a face that could only be called my Bah-humbug face.
Clarification: Note, the previous paragraph relates to how I felt during the conversion process several years ago about this situation, not how I feel about this situation today. Living in a Jewish neighborhood, among mostly Jewish friends, doing most of my shopping online, I rarely get wished a "Merry Christmas" and if I do, it passes without note.
What do you say when someone wishes you a "Merry Christmas"?
No one told me that becoming a Jew, an Orthodox Jew, meant that I had to snub my nose at Jews who didn’t live the same lifestyle. In fact, I’ve heard more non-Orthodox Jews snub their noses at Orthodox Jews than I’ve heard it the other way around.
As someone who became an Orthodox Jew and knew exactly how hard it was to get from point A to point B, I find that I am quite vividly aware of how hard it is to live this kind of lifestyle. I really don’t think it’s for everyone, I just know that it’s right for me. And I’m ready and willing to help anyone who thinks it is right for them, too.
I converted to Judaism because I loved Judaism and I loved Jews. It isn’t always so easy to love Jews but I keep trying my best to do it. I love short Jews and tall Jews. I love Orthodox Jews and Reform Jews and Conservative Jews, all kinds of Jews, even the ones who think the way I live my life is crazy as long as they don’t disrespect me. I love even the Jews who other people don't think are Jews because I respect all converts.
I wondered if my friend thought I was part of “the Orthodox,” if he was mad at me, too. But mostly, I thought that he was right to be angry because no matter how you tried to explain it away this situation was ugly, a blight on Judaism. A rabbi in Los Angeles appropriately called this "a shandah in Spain." Unfortunately, it was mostly “the Orthodox” (with few exceptions) who commented quite coldly and callously on every article and worse repeatedly attacked the little boy and his family. Attacking the way this little boy and his family chose to convert is one thing, but the character assassinations of a dead little boy and his grieving family is another. But I suppose it's hard to sympathize when you can't imagine ever having YOUR Jewishness questioned. I don't have that luxury.
Nobody tells you that as a convert, you and your children might be massacred emotionally (or otherwise) every time the lines are drawn and redrawn in the Jewish community so that you end up on the outside of it. No one tells you, no one really sits you down and explains what it means when you convert one way and not the other. No one explains that the people who really bear the brunt of the ongoing “Who is a Jew?” wars and an ever fracturing Jewish community are converts and their families in perpetuity no matter which movement they convert through.
But if you're reading the latest news on conversion in the Jewish community then you start reading between the lines. Let’s be clear. I fear we’ve gotten to a point where it won’t be a long before an Orthodox convert is turned away from a Jewish cemetery (they're already being turned away by marriage registries in Israel) because their conversion rabbi is unpopular or “worse,” apparently a convert himself. And I fear what happens when we get to a point when we realize the Jewish community accepts no convert, Orthodox or otherwise.
Please note: Though I will be rejecting all comments in response to this post whether or not I agree with the comments being made, I will be reading all of them.
One of my favorite Jewish bloggers, MaNishtana (Black Jew is the New Black!) takes no prisoners as he explains why he's not a fan of Chrismukkah! Isn't celebrating Chrismukkah like celebrating Batman-Joker Day? he asks. After watching "The Dark Knight" (on Blu-ray on an HDTV! ooh! ahh!), I can see how that could be a problem.
If you're looking to get hooked on some cool Jewish bloggers for the new year, check out these folks:
The OU finally put up a piece that I sold to them about a year ago. It will probably piss off some potato kugel aficionados and for that, I apologize. I'd probably be upset if someone wrote "plantains (yuck!)." Perhaps, I should have talked up my life of good gelfite fish and matzah ball soup?
In any case, here's my little rant on being a Jewminicana in a world where people try to force me to eat kugel and other "Jewish" foods.
There were so many beautiful entries to my "Jewish Faces I Love This Hanukkah" contest that I started to wish I could give a copy of "I Love Jewish Faces" by Debra B. Darvick to each and every one. I even had to get help judging because there were so many good entries! But finally, without further delay, here are the winners talking about the Jewish faces they loved this Hanukkah! A special thanks to all of you who shared photos of your loved ones.
Winner #1: Leah M.:
"The Jewish face I love is telling me about amazing things that she is findi
ng on the internet. The owner of the face is excited to go home to see her grandparents later this month. She is bubbling about her classes today, what she wants for dinner and how she'd like to know if she can practice driving if she can use the car. The Jewish face spoke the words she wroe at her Bat Mitzvah ceremony almost three years ago - words about maintaining the synagogue - her haftarah, her
dream. This Jewish face of my daughter is now singing, talking and smiling. She hasn't stopped talking since she started when she was a tiny Jewish face.
When I look at the many little faces in the classes at the Jewish Preschool where I work, I sometimes imagine what they'll be like when they are older faces. They are light, they are dark, they are sweet and they are sassy. They are Jewish and they are 'Not' and not one of them cares for Pharoah. I love Jewish faces!"
Winner #2: Ruby:
The Jewish face I love is my daughter, Dvorah Carmen.
Her eyes are a window to her emotions and soul. When she's happy, they are the brightest blue, like two sapphires glittering mischievously from behind her hair. When she's angry, they become a dark grey, like the Caribbean that encircles the islands of o
ur ancestors in a thunderstorm. I look into her eyes and can see choppy, stormy waves rolling in behind.
I love her eyes because they are uniquely hers, not resembling my brown, or her daddy's skylit blue. Her eyes tell the story of my family, people who came in all colors of the earth, a blend of European, Native, and African. They tell of her father's family, of a child whose eyes rebel against the stereotype of his Eastern European roots, and resemble the Germany of his great grandparents.
Her eyes are her own, saying "I am who I am, my eyes do not fit the stereotype of the brown eyed Ashkenazi, or the brown of olive skinned Carribean peopl
es. My eyes are mine, and will tell its own stories.
I look at her eyes, and see the future of the Jewish people, radiant and diverse, glowing.
I love Jewish faces."
Winner #3: Heidi H.
"The Jewish faces I love are so similar to each other that babysitters in the park call them "the clones" though they're almost four years apart. They have brown eyes that are shaped like mine, though the color matches their father's eyes (mine are green). Those eyes light up when I walk in the door, warming my heart every time.
Though I was not born Jewish, they have no doubt that they were, and the Jewish faces I love are proud to sing Hebrew songs and blessings, and they know at this time of year which holiday is theirs and which is not, and they're fine with it. One of my little Jewish faces said a couple of weeks ago, "Mommy, what holidays do Christians have? Because it seems like we have more. You have to tell me, because I was born Jewish, so *I* don't know." I thought that was great.
The Jewish faces I love started out so tiny, and now they're getting big very fast. Their skin is a little olive, their cheeks are so smooth, their hair is soft -- dark brown for the older one (who also shows signs of developing a unibrow), light brown for the youn
ger. Their faces show every emotion, often changing dramatically from moment to moment.
I have a lot to write and not a lot of energy to write it all. I think I'm finally almost starting to feel normal again after nearly two weeks of battling a cold/flu that wreaked havoc on my body, a body that already has to fight daily against fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
I had high hopes to inundate you with tons of cool Chanukkah posts and responses to all the conversion news that's cropping up. But instead, I've been spending a lot of time curled up in bed, sick and thinking about where I am in life.
For the past year and a half, I've made it my mission to get something up here on the blog on a daily basis. It's literally a full-time job and a daunting one. Because even when I'm not generating a lot of deep, thoughtful posts, I'm swimming in Jewish content that piles up in my inbox that I want to share with you.
Always, I'm fighting my body to get this blog done. Any time I spend on the computer is excruciating and hard on my body. And I don't think people realize that. I don't think I realize it and there have been too many times where I chose my blog over my body and I don't think I can do that anymore.
Blogging has really changed for me since freelance writing and speaking have become jobs for me. But I think what really changed my blog most was that I stopped being anonymous and friends, family and even my rabbi began starting conversations with this disclaimer: "By the way, this is off the record."
Despite always being an open person, I've had to become much more careful about what I share on my blog and I realize there are weeks where I don't share anything personal on my blog and like this past week, focus on content I find elsewhere that would interest readers who don't spend as much time culling Jewish resources as I do. So, in a funny way, the blog isn't always a memoir of a Jewminicana but a blog of "what a Jewminicana reads."
This blog has given me so many opportunities and connected me to so many awesome Jews, and even non-Jews, all over the world. One of the things that has kept me inspired when I have had troubles acclimating in the Jewish community has been you, not just my readers but a community I built for myself when I felt like I didn't have one and I wasn't sure where I fit.
But I think I have to take a step back. I've already taken a step back from freelance writing, from writing my book and I think its time to take a step back from blogging. I think if I'm going to continue doing it, I have to get back to a point where it wasn't a job, where it wasn't a deadline looming over my head but a place where I came to share my thoughts on my journey to live my life as the best Jewminicana I can be.
In the next few weeks, I'll be trying to fully recover from my cold/flu/nastiness and try to get a handle on the rest of my life. If I wade through my inbox, I might get a chance to comment on the latest conversion news but I think my first priority is going to be making sure I get some rest, some fluids and some exercise.
Thank you, my faithful readers, for making this an awesome and rewarding blog!
Christmas time is hard when you're a Jew, especially when you're the only Jew lost in a sea of Christmas carols, Christmas trees and Christmas movies. So how did comedian and writer Ophira Eisenberg deal with Christmas in Calgary? Stay tuned for the funny punchline where Santa "comes out."
"The Immigration and Absorption Ministry is in need of about 2,000 Orthodox families interested in "adopting" prospective converts to Judaism. About six months ago the ministry began advertising to enlist Orthodox families interested in accompanying immigrants on the path to conversion to Judaism. But there is still a serious dearth.
The potential converts are immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are not Jewishaccording to Orthodox halacha. Families are expected to volunteer to serve as role models for the converts as they prepare themselves for conversion under the aegis of the National Conversion Authority.
The ministry is targeting a very specific segment of the population that is both Orthodox, and that identifies with the goal of encouraging non-Jews to convert. The haredi population, which opposes attempts to encourage mass conversion and the secular population, which does not lead a religious lifestyle and cannot, therefore, aid the prospective convert, are not viable options.”
“We don't need to wait for the British Supreme Court's decision regarding "M" to understand that secular positive law and Jewish law may collide, and when they do, Dina d'Malchuta Dina, the law of the land is the law. JFS has already complied with the appellate court and will do what the Supreme Court allows it to do, no matter what the Talmud says. Some Jews may cheer. Some may jeer. But all British Jews will comply, and it will not be the first time that secular law, in upholding its own inner standards, will define for practical purposes who is a Jew.”
Daniel M. Gold reviews Yisrael Campbell’s off-Broadway show, “Circumcise Me”:
“The biggest source of humor is the rivalry Mr. Campbell encounters among the different streams of Judaism. Think of the old Jewish man on a desert island who shows his rescuer the synagogues he built — the one he attends and “the one I wouldn’t go into” — and you get the idea.
Mr. Campbell nudges at the foibles of religion generally. After becoming Jewish and living in Los Angeles, he marries an Egyptian woman whose father insists that he convert to Islam. He declines: “If I belong to all three major religions in one calendar year, people are going to doubt my sincerity.””
“Fearing other court rulings, state-funded Jewish schools across the UK have set up a points system to determine faith-based, non-ethnic, non-racial determinations of Jewish identity, reports the Guardian. For example, the schools established a points system in which a child earns admission points for synagogue attendance; with lesser points for synagogue study or tutorials; or working or volunteering with a Jewish organization.”
“The matter-of-fact manner in which Maxim Serdhiukov recounts how Ashkelon's rabbi in August refused to register him and his converted fiancee for marriage betrays little emotion. But signs of his indignation are nonetheless present. "This country has a Knesset and it has laws, and if some punk rabbi decides to take the law into his own hands, then I will not remain silent about it," says the 24-year-old Serdhiukov, who was born in Latvia to Jewish parents who immigrated to Israel in 1993.
Serdhiukov says that Ashkelon's rabbi, Yosef Haim Bloi, told him that he would not register Serdhiukov and his Russian-born fiancee, Eline Roiz, because his office does not handle converts to Judaism. He says Bloi didn't care that the chief rabbinate approved her conversion while she was in the army. Then, a woman from the rabbi's office called Serdhiukov to further explain to him that he was "not the problem, but that the problem was with Eline."”
“My boyfriend was sitting with me at my Reform temple, listening as the rabbi recounted our predicament to make sure he understood the situation.
“Joe, by asking Brianna to convert into Conservative Judaism, it is denying the fact that she is Jewish to begin with,” my rabbi said.
Not only was Joe questioning my Jewish identity, but we were debating whether or not it would be necessary for me to visit the mikveh.
My boyfriend, whom I met online, comes from a very traditional Sephardic Conservadox background. He feels that my family heritage has a “questionable” past, and to his mind a conversion was necessary before we could continue with our relationship. A small pool of water stood between me and my future with Joe.”
“A local nonprofit assisting Jewish converts is for the first time planning to take the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to court for not preventing the retroactive annulment of conversions, Anglo File has learned. The organization's founder asserts "back room" talks convinced him such outside pressure would give rabbinate leaders the impetus to address the issue on its own."
"In an unusual departure from the ultra-Orthodox stance, Israel's Ashkenazi chief rabbi has declared that anyone holding a conversion certificate issued by the State of Israel can register to be married in his place of residence. Yona Metzger's declaration, contained in a letter to the Knesset's Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, comes on the heels of converts' complaints that local rabbis were refusing to recognize them as Jews according to Jewish law and to register them for marriage."
Latinas, according to one Israeli man married to one, are “so nice, so calm, respectful.”
No one who has ever met me would describe me as "calm." I definitely don't come from a family of "calm" Latinas.
"They love to have fun a lot."
Pretty bland. You could say this about a lot of people, not just SOME Latinas. Personally, I don't like fun at all!!!! Bah-humbug this thing called fun! Eye roll.
What do Israelis and Latinas have in common? “We’re very much like an open book. What you see is what you get."
Oh. Okay, actually I commented once that what some American friends called Israeli rudeness seemed very similar to Latina-American bluntness. But trust me, my other Latina family members are anything but an "open book." And I'm sure there are Israelis who aren't rude or open...right? Raise your hands!
"The men interviewed describe their [Latina] wives catering — without any complaints — to their needs and desires for a good meal."
SIGH. Don't tell my husband he got the raw deal on Latina wives. In my house, it's the Jewish husband serving up a good meal.
"However, Sonia says she still feels like an outsider among Yoav’s Israeli friends, especially the women. She says there’s a sense among Israeli women that Latinas are stealing their men."
Damn, now that's a new one!
Sonia adds: "Now that he’s been able to be completely open to me to tell me that it’s important to him, I understand that and I don’t mind raising Jewish children."
Don't mind? Oy. Lady, don't sound so excited all at once!
Okay, now I have to go count up all the Israeli stereotypes. This article gave me just a slight headache. But what the article is trying to discuss is an issue in the American Jewish community and I guess, the Israeli Jewish community. Though I don't have any statistics on hand (the article does), there do seem, at least to me, to be a lot of Israeli men in America intermarrying with non-Jewish women and in some cases, Latinas who are ready and willing to convert and make Jewtino babies. And what do I think of this? Well, Jewish babies, whether slightly Latino or not, rock!
TITLE: Journeys to Judaism: Jews by Choice Tell Their Stories DATE: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 TIME: 7-9PM PLACE: Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I Street NW, Washington, DC 20001, 202.408.3100
For those who choose to become Jews, every journey is different. Students in the conversion class at Tifereth Israel Congregration have traveled together for many months. In this special presentation, Anna Wojas and several other members of that class share their stories and celebrate their first December holiday season as Jews in America.
ADMISSION: The cost is $15 for members of the JSC, $20 for non-members.
Between a cold/flu since Tuesday and my regular old fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, I am laid up in bed whiny, sniffly, sneezy and quite dopey. Hopefully, I'll find something meaningful to say about Chanukkah before it's over. In the meantime, I'm going to have to swipe cool stuff from other websites and bring them to you! Hope your Chanukkah is less whiny, sniffly, sneezy and dopey than mine!
Is there really such a thing as a "Jewish" American princess or is it just an American princess problem? I was recently pondering this when someone was remarking on how all the Jewish guys at a single event had "computer jobs." "Such a stereotype!" Eye rolling ensued. So I asked, "Doesn't the fact that they're in computers mean they have, uh, good jobs that pay well?" "Yeah, but it's so nerdy." I guess I've got low standards. I was just grateful when my boyfriends had jobs.
The many, many kosher Asian restaurants in New York City is a testament to the Jewish obsession with Chinese food (and now sushi). In Jews and Chinese Food: Love Affair", an entertaining talk based on her book, "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles", New York Times Metro reporter Jennifer 8. Lee dissects the longtime love affair between Jews and Chinese cuisine, touching upon pastrami egg rolls, Hanukkah fortune cookies and bagels in Beijing. Lee sheds light on the myths of Chinese food in the U.S. and explains how it has become all-American. Includes a Kosher Buffet Dinner! Date & Time: Sun, Dec 20, 2009, 7:00pm Location: New York City, 92nd Street Y, Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street
Carmen Van Kerchove over at the Racialious blog tells a story about a white Jewish mother who has adopted an African child and her reaction to when her Jamaican nanny expresses the racism she has experienced from other whites in the community while caring for this child.
Back in 2004 when I first started speaking and blogging about race, I was invited to facilitate a phone discussion with a group of parents who had adopted children from outside the United States.
One of the mothers in the group was white and Jewish. She adopted her son from an African country, and was raising him in her faith. She told me that she wanted my advice on a situation she was dealing with.
Her nanny was a Jamaican woman. One day, the nanny came home and the mother noticed she looked upset. The mother asked her what was wrong, but the nanny just shook her head and said everything was fine.
The mother was concerned, so she kept prodding, but the nanny was still reluctant to say anything. The mother was persistent, and told her that this was a safe space for her to share. She said there wouldn’t be any judgments, no matter what it was about.
Finally, the nanny broke down and said, “You people don’t know how to act!”
She explained that anytime she took the child for play dates in their mostly white and Jewish neighborhood, parents would treat her brusquely and avoid eye contact. Whenever she went to a store, salespeople would follow her around to make sure she didn’t steal anything. When she went to pay for items, the cashier would treat take great pains not to touch her hand when giving her change back.
She had been putting up with this kind of discrimination for a long time now because she loved working with this family, but she didn’t know how much longer she could go on as it was wearing on her emotionally.
“Can you believe that?” the mother asked me, her voice shaking with anger.
I was about to respond by expressing how sorry I was that this level of prejudice existed in her community, when the mother continued.
“I’m going to fire her! How dare she call Jews ‘you people!’ I’m Jewish and my son is Jewish. I’m just going to have to fire her because I don’t feel safe around her anymore.”
Nefesh B'Nefesh, an organization that seeks to revitalize Aliyah and to substantially increase the number of future olim by removing the financial, professional and logistical obstacles that prevent many individuals from actualizing their dreams, brought over 150 participants together on Ben Yehuda Street for the first ever Jerusalem flash mob in honor of Hanukkah.
This video reminded me of a couple of things: how much I miss walking down Ben Yehuda Street (I hope to get back soon G-d willing), also how much I love Jewish comedy and of course, that song from OutKast (Hey Ya!). My new favorite Hanukkah song is definitely "Hannukah Hey Ya!" No doubt about it, us Jews are fun, funny and fearless.
Well, Happy Hanukkah, folks! Let's make this one as unforgettable as the last! (Though Hanukkah is a fairly minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, every year I get to celebrate it in conjunction with my wedding anniversary--three years this Hanukkah!)
MY DREIDEL JUST SPINS AROUND AND THEN FALLS TO THE GROUND AS WE LIGHT THE CANDLES (OY!) I LOVE TO LIGHT MENORAHS AND THE MATZAH BALLS ARE COOKING ON THE STOVE (MMM!) FLAMES HIGH TO LIGHT THE CEILING BUT THE CANDLE DRIPPING'S BURNING ME RIGHT NOW (OW!) THANK GOD FOR MOM AND DAD FOR TEACHING JEWISH CULTURE 'CAUSE WE ARE SO PROUD (L'CHAIM)
[CHORUS] HANUKKAH HANUKKAH HANUKKAH HANUKKAH
THOSE FLUFFY LATKES, OH THOSE FLUFFY LATKES THEY'RE HOT I WANT TO EAT 'EM 'TILL THERE'S NOTHING AT ALL WE GET THE PRESENTS, OH WE GET THE PRESENTS AND EIGHT IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN THREE FROM SANTA CLAUS AND WHAT THEY SAY IS "WE'RE THE CHOSEN PEOPLE" THEN WHAT MAKES, WHAT MAKES, WHAT MAKES, WHAT MAKES US THE EXCEPTION? DON'T KNOW WHY, KNOW WHY O-Y, O-Y, O-Y (OY!) RUN AND CALL YOUR RABBI SO THAT YOU CAN CELEBRATE THIS YEAR
OY IS JUST YO BACKWARDS
[CHORUS] HANUKKAH (WHY DON'T YOU MEET MY RABBI) HANUKKAH (HE ISN'T SUCH A BAD GUY) HANUKKAH (IT WOULDN'T BE A BUMMER) HANUKKAH (IF YOU WANT TO WEAR YARMULKE)
MANISCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ AND A KOSHERIZED PICKLE MANISCEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SHEVITZ AND POTATO KNISHES MANISCEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ AND THE KASHA VARNISHKAS MANISCEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ, SCHEWITZ,
Also, check out this article about Martin Casey, the African-American (and Scottish, Irish, Native American) Jewish convert who choreographed the Jerusalem Flash Mob: "Feeling the beat"
Officer John Fosket of the Helena Police Department and Miky, a bomb-sniffing dog trained by the Israeli Defense Forces.
The NY Times published a sweet Jewish story this past weekend, "Yes, Miky, There Are Rabbis in Montana". Aside from how hilarious it was to read that a Chabad rabbi from Brooklyn is teaching a non-Jewish cop Hebrew so he can talk to his Israeli dog (read the article if you just got confused), the article was the first time I heard of the following tale:
"Hanukkah has a special significance in Montana these days. In Billings in 1993, vandals broke windows in homes that were displaying menorahs. In a response organized by local church leaders, more than 10,000 of the city's residents and shopkeepers put make-shift menorahs in their own windows, to protect the city's three dozen or so Jewish families. The vandalism stopped."
Some of the families described in the story traveled around the country meeting with youth groups, etc. to talk about the experience. Our family met them when they came to our synagogue. The mother in the book is based on a woman who is a Jew-by-choice. She was a very impressive speaker, very savvy politically. She understood how she had to create an alliance with the local police and news editor, which helped her get the newspaper to publish the picture of the menorah on an entire page of the newspaper. It was that picture that people throughout Billings placed in their windows.
Not having been socialized as a minority, she couldn't understand how the Jews in Billings were reluctant to make waves. For her it was simply if someone attacks you, you fight back.
I had the opportunity to talk with her and tell her about the JMN. She didn't know or know about Jews of Color and hadn't realized that there were Jews who sometimes didn't feel welcome in their own religious communities.
I just realized I didn't have a blog post scheduled for today. Ug. In the last 48 hours, I seem to have picked up a bug. I'm coughing, my chest and throat ache, my eyes and nose are runny. I'm a mess. I've got a doctor appointment scheduled this afternoon, thank G-d. I never get sick. Ever. The last time I did nearly 3-4 years ago, the doctor had to give me liquid cherry-flavored painkillers because the cold/cough exacerbated my fibromyalgia.
So I recently broke up with my therapist. I think it was time. It became financially daunting--my health insurance just went up again and mental and dental health services have never been covered. Also, I realized that I stopped being depressed so I didn't have so much to talk about. (I know, whoop! Scream! Yell! I took me three years but I beat that depression back once and for all.) I also realized my main issues (chronic pain and race) weren't and couldn't be address by my therapist.
Yesterday, my husband and I met with a social worker at his school to talk about the day-to-day stuff we face together as an interracial couple and I face me as a Jew of color and a convert. The best part was getting confirmation that indeed, we do need to come up with rote phrases and responses for the situations we keep stumbling over, over and over again.
"That question makes me uncomfortable." "That statement makes me uncomfortable." "I don't discuss that with people I've just met."
There are just a few that we came up with during the meeting. No, they don't seem terribly complicated but usually I feel too shocked and appalled to use a pithy, snappy comeback much less one that clearly establishes that I am in fact VERY uncomfortable. I'll be going through my recent blogs to look over the different scenarios I usually find myself in and hopefully figuring out with friends, family and you, my lovely readers, how I could respond to them in a different way that leaves me feeling comfortable instead of angry, violated, harrowed.
I did feel that the social worker, who was white and female, didn't understand why a Jew of color does NOT always want to discuss their race and ethnicity, much less their conversion if they had one, in the first five minutes they meet someone. She thought it made sense for me just to give everyone a three-line opening bio to appease their curiosity. But I've found that doing this actually leads to more and more invasive questions. I've found myself "trapped" in situations where I quickly become the main attraction at the table (TELL US, EVERYONE, YOUR STORY!) or the social studies teacher/travel agent (TELLS US EVERYTHING ABOUT THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC!) or had to deal with everyone's awkward responses to now knowing my racial/ethnic background (Oh, let me tell you about all the Hispanic people I've ever known!).
I stress again and again and again that is my belief that I do NOT have to respond to people's curiosity and that it is in part this "curiosity" among other things that is driving Jews of color, converts, Jews who are coming back to the fold, away when they really just want to be treated like any other Jew but are, instead, met with interrogations, insensitivity and just plain derision (note that in a recent post a white Jew who was insensitive about the issues of Jews of color expressed he, himself, had been mistreated for having a non-Jewish father).
I think people should get to know you if they really want to get the personal details about your life. Getting to know you means more than one Shabbos table conversation, more than a five-minute query at synagogue after they've been staring at you all through services. Basically, personal stuff should come out over the course of a relationship naturally. While the social worker agreed that telling people that I am a child abuse survivor is a personal detail I shouldn't share in the first five minutes, she disagreed that conversion is ALSO a very personal detail about my life. But to be very honest, I'd rather tell people the former than the latter in the first 5 minutes I meet them.
Despite the social worker's sensitivity, humor and general awesomeness, I went home and got angry eventually. No matter how sensitive she was when she said we were "sensitive" or "sensitized" to these issues, I felt like we were being called "too sensitive." I also felt like she didn't and couldn't really understand my situation in the Jewish community as a convert who is not white and now as a Jew of color. I think I'm going to sit down with my friends who are Jews of color/converts/social workers and try the same conversation again.
Also, I had this conversation when I hadn't slept in 48 hours (too much coughing) so that probably didn't help the situation. My little sister who I am very, very close to (you know since I kidnapped her) says that it seems like this issue has really gotten worst in the last 6 months for me. Sure, after I'd converted I had four pages I could write about all the racism and weirdness I'd experienced in the community. But now, I have blogs full. Still, what happened six months ago?
Six months ago is an interesting marker. Six months ago is when my husband got into a fight at a Shabbos table in Los Angeles over racism which lead to this piece: "A lesson for Jews in Gates' Arrest?". And just before that, I broke up with a good friend after she said some racist things. Honestly, lately, I find that when I'm upset enough I think about leaving the Jewish community (not Judaism) altogether. I know converts who have fluctuated between periods where they're really connected to a community and periods where they've moved away. I don't think that's realistic for me at this point. About 99% of my friends are now Jews. Honestly, my hope is that when my husband gets a position as a rabbi, we can build a community that is welcoming everyone, especially Jews of color and converts.
My sister agreed that I need to come up with some coping strategies and I'm inclined to agree especially since in the next six months will bring me into a lot of new situations where I'll be meeting new people and inevitably stupid questions and comments will be made. Not to mention, I have to mentally, emotionally and physically prepare for speaking at Limmud NY on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day about racism in the Jewish community.
In the future, I'll be reaching out to you all to help me come up with effective responses to some of the situations I come up against, especially since so many of you face the same situations in the Jewish community. I'll also be rereading past posts and collecting the wonderful comments you've made already. Many thanks to those who have diligently been commenting on the blog or responding on my fan page.
You'd be surprised how some conversations in Jewish circles start for Jews of color. Often, they don't start with "Hi, what's your name?"
Instead, they start with "Hey, are you a convert?" even before the other person has introduced themselves. Usually, this question has substituted, "Hi! Hello! How are you?" The curiosity of the person on the other end is so overwhelming that all polite pleasantries quickly fall out of the window. Splat.
Or they start with "Sooooo, where you from?"But you notice they're not asking the other Jews, the Jews who are white. Without knowing your name, they demand to know your story, the story of how you came to (maybe) be Jewish but not white. But when you tell them you're from "New York," there's always a follow-up question: "No, really, where are you really from?" And you notice no one else got a two-parter. And now, there's even a new variation: "no, what's your maiden name?"
All a Jew of color wants is a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. We want people to get to know our names, get to know us as people. We are not exotic monkeys that will talk to you and let you pet us for treats. We are not free entertainment at your Shabbos tables or Jewish events. We want to be treated like every other Jew but we are walking, talking proof of something that many Jews forget...Jews come in all shapes, sizes and colors!
In the above Def Jam Poetry clip, Shihan uses poetry to protest everything he's "Sick & Tired" about and boy, do watch out for that R-rated language!
Event: Poetry as Protest II: Writing Justice Date: Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009 (Please note correction to date) Place: Drisha Institute, 37 W. 65th, 5th floor, New York, NY Time: 7-9pm Suggested Donation: $7
It's time to stop reading what others have produced and put pen to paper ourselves. In this workshop we'll use writing to clarify our goals and priorities for ourselves and help us articulate those goals to others. We'll practice working with different techniques and tools and we'll explore some styles and options beyond what first comes to our minds when we think of poetry or prose.
If you did not attend the first installment of Poetry as Protest or don't consider yourself a writer you are still encouraged to come and benefit from what will be a challenging, unique, and fun event. Please bring something to write with and something to write on!
This event is co-sponsored by Pardes and latkes and sufganiyot will be served in honor of Channukah.
Hanukkah is upon us and so the mad dash for the perfect gift ensues. Well, let me help! A chosen few (three) will each win a copy of "I Love Jewish Faces" by Debra Darvick just in time for Hanukkah. So what do you have to do?
1. In the comments section and/or via email, describe the Jewish face you love in a couple of sentences...whether it's your loved one, a friend or a movie star. Start with "The Jewish face I love...." And end with "I love Jewish faces."
2. Email me at Jewminicana1 AT gmail DOT com with your name, address (must be in the US) and phone number (and if you posted your response in the comments section, be sure to tell me what your screen name is!)
3. Bonus: send a photograph of the Jewish face you love!
4. Deadline is Friday, December 11, 2009.
5. Winners to be announced Monday, December 14, 2009.
The Jewish face I love...has a hard time growing facial hair so it wears a goatee that's slightly better groomed than the one Brad Pitt is currently wearing! Hardly rabbinical. But then my favorite part of this Jewish face is his nose. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you're waiting for stereotypes but hear me out.
As a kid, I was fascinated by my mother's long straight nose and the tiny little bump on it. My thin--so thin my glasses would forever slide up and down it--little nose looked so bland and simple next to hers. When my mother was nice, her nose was the kind you wrote sonnets about. When she was cruel, it was hooked, part of a Halloween mask. By the time I was an adult, I fetishized noses. To me, Adrian Brody had the perfect nose, a nose that had character, that is until I discovered his nose. Just a regular old nose, not too big, not too small but truly perfect and utterly kissable.
I liked his nose even better than his eyes which I thought were green at first, dirty pool water green until I discovered they were really blue, my all-time favorite color in the most perfect shade in the eyes of the Jewish face I love the most! I looooove Jewish faces.