Locusts: They descend on us, pick us bare, for the future of the Jewish people. We don’t align with denominations. We don’t look good in demographic surveys. We don’t care about continuity. We care about meaning, and that scares them. We do not exist to feed the future. We are not here to raise Jewish children. We are here to be Jews in our own right.
Frogs, writes Rabbi Elianna Yolkut, are cold-blooded amphibious creatures that hatch in cold environments, so the rabbis teach that the plague of frogs was meant to remind the Egyptian of the emotional distance and lack of intimacy that is a necessary prerequisite to enslave someone. Today technology is the cold-blooded creature that jumps into every moment of our lives, taking away our very ability to connect with others, to create space for intimacy with our children, our significant others and our friends.
Blood. The blood that is spilled, metaphorically speaking and literally, by governors who are refusing to expand Medicaid under Obamacare and give healthcare to the most vulnerable among us. People with treatable conditions are already dying because they fall in the gap between Medicaid and being able to afford regular insurance. It’s really a travesty.
Comedians Katie Halper and Heather Gold unpack this week’s news. And oy, what a week it’s been. Happy Passover. Watch Morning Jew now!
This is the last sentence of my horoscope for the week of April 3, 2014:
“You need to be free of the past, free of fearful influences, and free of the self you’re in the process of outgrowing.”
I’m thinking about this sentence as many around me observe Passover, as I opt out of it for the second year in a row, doing a thing that feels razor-sharp-right for me, and also confusing and dangerous. (More than one thing can be true at a time; let’s remember this always.)
What would it take for women to be free? All women — all ages, born as women, chosen to be women, or just born of a woman and know that the divine female is in us all and is calling to be liberated. What would it take for us all to be free?
I am writing this in a busy cafe, Nina Simone is singing serendipitously in the background, “I wish I knew how it would feel to be free.” You and me both, Nina….
The Ten Plagues of Egypt have been compared to birth pains, necessary contractions in order for a new nation to come to life. READ MORE
Amnesia is the plague I want to call out. It is a widespread phenomenon of modern life here in the US.
To wit: I am the granddaughter of immigrant garment workers. The forgetting is such that I never even realized the significance of that reality until well into my adulthood. One take on that significance: flight from the familiar into disorientation and vulnerability. Humble origins, a tiny one-bedroom apartment for four people. Being “the stranger,” the ger, the experience that the Haggadah takes pains to remind us of and to transport us to.
Editor’s note: This year, Zeek introduces an intergenerational Passover series of feminist plagues. We’ll publish a new one for each day of Passover. This project was inspired, generally, by the 39th Annual Feminist Seder held this March at the home of Barbara Kane and the conversations we had there about creating more intergenerational spaces for feminists and social justice activists, and, specifically, by Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s reading there of “The Ten Plagues According to Women,” which appears here. Over the past few weeks, I reached out to Jewish feminists between the ages of 17 and 70-something, asking each to use the 10 Plagues as a point of departure. To redefine them or reflect on what each sees as today’s plagues, from a Jewish feminist perspective. (These were all written before the Kansas shootings, and it’s with a sad heart we pay particular attention to the connections made between the death of the firstborn and gun violence. —Erica Brody
Then came the ox
who drank the tears
that fell from the eyes
that saw the slain
who fell from the bullets
shot from the gun
held by the hands
raised by the man
who stoked the hate
Comedians Katie Halper and Heather Gold unpack the news. This week: Governors Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Scott Walker walk the walk for GOP money man Sheldon Adelson; thoughts about circumcision – it “puts everything up in front!” – and more. Can you guess which makeup-loving rock-star frontman was born an Israeli Jew named Chaim? Guess. Watch. Laugh. Share.
Jews in America are as class divided as any other demographic group, and generally we act as such: not in concert, but in conflict. The SPURA saga is worth understanding, remembering and retelling because it complicates any one particular narrative about Jews and New York City’s dark history of destruction and development.
I am an artist living in Chicago. When I go to an opening and see all white artists showing with a 99% white crowd or hear about residencies where it seems everyone accepted is white, I tune it out. As a white person, I am more myself in multi-racial settings. I’m not sure how to change this fact or even sure if I want to change it. Why force myself to connect in spaces that exclude people of color? Is my viewpoint “problematic,” as an activist friend claims? –Anti-Racist & Ambivalent in Chicago
Who among us isn’t aware of the gulf between what is and what should be?
As a scrappy online Jewish magazine focused on social justice, arts & culture, spirituality and pushing boundaries, we have some pronounced views. And we know you do too.
A recent study in the Forward – which hosts and supports Zeek, but from which we have total editorial independence – is asking for feedback on the findings of its phenomenal new Jewish study, reported by Josh Nathan-Kazis. The study lays out how Jewish philanthropists and charities spend their money, based on tax reports of 3,600 American Jewish nonprofits. The findings? Some 38% of funds go to Israel-centric programs, 13% to arts and culture and a mere 6% to advocacy. Is that as it should be?
Comedians Katie Halper & Heather Gold take down the news of the week. Watch. Be amazed. Laugh. Share.
I remember clearly the day that my then-boyfriend now-husband and I implemented our “no conference calls on road trips” rule. We’re often on the road between our home in DC and New York or to my mother-in-law’s home on the Delaware coast. While this might seem like an obvious rule to some in order to maximize quality time together, our concerns were much more mundane. If we were both on the phone at the same time, we couldn’t hear. And we couldn’t agree on whose call was more important, so we decided no one could be on the phone.
This morning, Rabbi Lori Koffman was one of many religious leaders speaking out in support of women’s access to birth control and real religious liberty as the Supreme Court hears arguments on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, At issue: whether a for-profit company must provide full contraception coverage for employees (thanks, Affordable Care Act)!
“We are here because this is what Judaism demands of us,” she said, “to demonstrate to the Court that faith should not be used as a tool of coercion, but that it should be an instrument of freedom to guide us along our own religious and moral path, to make our own faith-informed decisions about our bodies, our families and our health.”
We honor the memory of the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 by doing what we can to advance safe working conditions, end sweatshop labor, and fight child labor and for immigrants rights.
This is the 10th year that volunteers have – thanks to Ruth Sergel of Street Pictures – chalked up New York City’s Streets to commemorate the 146 mainly immigrant women and girls who died in that fire and gave rise to a movement.
The JOFEE Dialogues with Nigel Savage, Jon Marker, Nili Simhai, Seth Cohen, Lisa Farber Miller & Jakir Manela
One night this week — before spring arrived! — a statistic kept popping up in my Twitter feed: “Americans spend 90% of their time indoors.” Disturbing, right? As it turns out, the architect Marc Kushner had mentioned this disturbing fact during his TED2014 talk about how design and space impact our culture, communities and lives, deeply. Although he was talking about architecture, I was struck by the amount of time Americans spend outdoors — or don’t. Could it really be so little? The EPA thinks so. READ MORE
Comics Katie Halper and Heather Gold tackle the week’s headlines: why we shouldn’t #BanBossy (“we should #OwnBossy” and own our own power). Plus, God’s Facebook page, Jewish charades, Jewmunity and Condi Rice. Watch the new Morning Jew, with comedians Katie Halper and Heather Gold.
Zeek enjoys partnering with comics Katie Halper and Heather Gold, to bring you Morning Jew, a tongue-in-cheek take-down of morning news shows, talking heads, and the news itself. Is it good for the Jews?
This Purim, I’m reminded of the power of coming out and speaking out, despite the consequences. In the story of Purim, the Jewish people are redeemed only after Esther finds the courage to stand up for herself and her community.
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