Frog Spawn

A Rabbi’s Re-Imagining of the 10 Plagues: Blood Money, Self-Judgment, Consumption, Time, Extremists, Gun Violence, and More

April 18, 2014

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.

Ten Feminist Plagues: Right-Wing Governors, Media Double-Standards, Flawed Criminal Justice System By Sarah Seltzer

April 18, 2014

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.

Morning Jew: Jewish Porn Star, Kansas City JCC Shooter & Spain Doubles Down

April 18, 2014

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!

The Opt-Out Option: Resistance & A Feminist “House Cleaning” of the Soul’s Chametz

April 17, 2014

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.)

A Woman’s Freedom: Ten Plagues, to the Tune of “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" (For the Third Night)

April 16, 2014

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: A Plague of Modern Life, Or, Why It’s Time to Wake Up to Importance of Interdependence (Second Night)

April 15, 2014

This is the second in Zeek’s intergenerational Passover series of feminist plagues. We’re publishing a new one for each day of Passover.

“Amnesia is the plague I want to call out. It is a widespread phenomenon of modern life here in the US,” writes Susan Lubeck. “At Pesach we have the opportunity, and obligation, to remember, and also to ask questions — one of the defining features of what it means to be free.”

The 10 Plagues According to Women: For the First Night, Introducing Zeek's Intergenerational Feminist Series for Passover

April 14, 2014

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

Read Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s The 10 Plagues According to Women

Poem for the Kansas Shootings

April 13, 2014

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

Read More

Jewish GOP Does Vegas, Generation Gap & Circumcision News-- Nu? It's Morning Jew!

April 13, 2014

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.

SPURA, SPURIOUS: A Story of Jews, Politics, and 20 Acres of Demolished Housing on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and the Lessons We Should Learn

April 10, 2014

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.

Racism in the Art World: Avoid or Act? The Leftist Ethicist

April 7, 2014

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

One Poll You Need to Vote In: How Should American Jewish Nonprofits and Philanthropists Spend Their Billions?

April 7, 2014

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?

So this is your chance. Take the one-minute poll right now and tell them how and where you would spend Jewish billions.

Holocaust-deniers on Facebook, Trapeze-Swinging Singers, Rabbi-Endorsed Polygamy--Nu? It's Morning Jew!

April 4, 2014

Comedians Katie Halper & Heather Gold take down the news of the week. Watch. Be amazed. Laugh. Share.

On No-Phone Zones & Balance while Fighting for Change, Families, Equity & Reproductive Choice

April 3, 2014

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.

Faith Rally, Freedom & the Hobby Lobby: Standing up for Access to Birth Control at the Supreme Court

March 25, 2014

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.”

Chalking History: 10 Years of Street Art Memory -- Honoring the Victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

March 25, 2014

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 Jewish Ecosphere Springs Forward: Social Justice & Innovation in the Expanding Universe of “JOFEE”

March 22, 2014

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

#OwnBossy, Jewish Charades, God on Facebook -- Morning Jew with Comedians Katie Halper & Heather Gold

March 16, 2014

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?

Purim’s Power: Despite the Consequences –The Jewish Push for LGBT Rights, Part 3

March 13, 2014

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.

Why this Fast of Esther, I'm Fasting for Immigration Reform (Hint: I'm an Observant Jewish Woman. And an Immigrant.)

March 13, 2014

As an observant Jew, I, along with so many people in the Jewish community will spend today fasting and reflectingon the bravery of Queen Esther and the Jews in the Persian Empire. At that time, they gathered to fast and to pray in order to spare the Jewish people from extermination. There are seven fast days every year. But today’s fast feels different. On this day, women from across the Jewish spectrum are fasting and raising awareness to speak truth to power to achieve just, humane, and comprehensive immigration reform. As a Jew, as a woman and as an immigrant from Canada, I identify with the gravity of the mission of the day.

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