Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wigging Out.

I came across this great piece on The Cut while lazily drinking my tea, and like all good procrastinators, scrolled down to read the comments as well. And quelle surprise, everyone is freaking out about wigs. In a society obsessed with appearances, where faces and bodies get poked, pulled, injected, nipped, and tucked without anyone batting an eye (maybe because they can't?), the level of negative attention this particular mitzvah receives is a tad misplaced.

At first blush, I know it seems odd for a woman to cover her hair with, um, hair. The oft-cited explanation that only her husband may see a woman's lovely locks smacks of sexism for many. While I do want to acknowledge that there are several in-depth reasons (none of them sexist) given for the mitzvah, for the purposes of simplifying things and leveling with anyone unfamiliar with the Orthodox world, I'm going to provide only my own take here.

I will always be grateful to women who fought for my right to vote and have greater opportunities in the workplace. But somewhere along the line, the pendulum has swung too far, and feminism has become women telling other women what they need to do in order to be empowered. Women who choose to have children at the expense of their careers, stay at home to raise them, or in this case, be Orthodox Jews, find themselves on the receiving end of this backlash. But isn't feminism all about choice? The women I know who wear wigs choose to do so, and as with any decision, they deserve their sisters' support for it.

These same "oppressed" women are doctors, lawyers, writers, business owners, you name it. In none of these professions does anyone want to wear a blinking neon sign declaring their religious affiliation; it's personal. And that's pretty much what a scarf does. It attracts attention, invites questions, and reduces a woman to only one dimension of the multi-layered person that she is. A wig allows her to feel that she is performing a mitzvah that she believes in, while being able to just get on with it and do her damn job. If that's not empowerment, I don't know what is.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Faking It.

Given Judaism's concern for the welfare of animals, I've always wondered how anyone who keeps kosher could justify wearing fur. I'm not a fan of PETA's in-your-face tactics, so I'm not going to go into details on the fur industry here, but suffice it to say that animals do not shed their coats like snakes. Ok? They die. If, like me, you lose it when Bambi's mom is killed (or Nemo's mom, for that matter), then do your big, beautiful heart a favor and go faux. Even better, get a fuzzy wuzzy feeling inside and out with Imposter, an online boutique of "I can't believe it's not fur" accessories, with 10% of all sales going to charities benefiting animals. Most of the time, I like to keep it real. But in this case, I'm really proud to be fake.


Monday, December 10, 2012

The Chai of Pi.

Imagine, if you will, that as you approached adolescence, your parents decided that since you hadn't yet received any mathematical education, they should probably give you roughly a year of it to prepare you for adulthood. They certainly don't want you to become a mathematician, understand, but at least you'll be able to add and subtract and they'll feel they did their duty as responsible parents. So you end the year with a basic grasp of math and you move on, never really using what you learned, because come on, there are calculators for that stuff.

Years later, you meet someone who is really into mathematics and tries to tell you there is actually more to it than just addition and subtraction. You listen politely as he explains that there are equations which reveal the laws of the universe, and even claims the existence of a number that goes on forever, called Pi. This guy, you suspect, is the kind of crazy mathematician your parents warned you against.

I do not regard it as a coincidence that the hero of Life of Pi both chooses for himself a nickname after this eternal sequence and passionately argues for religion and G-d, even after a series of catastrophes leave him abandoned in nature. The irony of how religious people are regarded in an increasingly scientific world is not lost on me. We may not seek to prove certain thingsproof eludes even scientists at timesbut we do study in order to understand. In a religion that not only respects science, but believes that scientific achievement can be tikkun olam, there is room for revelation in all forms. Contrarily, the non-religious often dismiss the Torah without bothering to study it, at least as adults. Just because something sounds crazy doesn't mean it can't possibly be true. If you consider yourself an educated person, you may want to contemplate just how informed you actually are on this particular issue before deeming it irrelevant.

"Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. G-d is hard to believe, ask any believer." - Life of Pi

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." - Albert Einstein


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hey Mama.

So, the very same day on which that Kate announced she would be a Mama, I became a LadyMama. Coincidence? I think not. Seriously, LadyMama is one of my favorite blogs for Jewish women, and I am constantly inspired by L'Original Lady Mama Mimi and her team of LMs. I was incredibly honored to be invited to join, and to debut with a post on an issue close to my heart. We each have our own challenges, and I'm hoping it will help those of you who share mine. We're all in this together.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Higher the Heel, the Closer to G-d.

Straight Up Shoe Art: Walter Steiger
Last Dance with Mary Jane: Ivanka Trump

A little Metallica: B Brian Atwood


Sunday, September 23, 2012


I was really bummed out by the Internet Asifa back in May, and not because I thought it was the end of my iPhone. I found it hard to believe that leaders in a religion that can be progressive in so many ways could be in such denial about not only the rather obvious permanence of the Internet, but of all of its positive uses. I know firsthand - I can literally credit online research with my decision to become completely observant and have an Orthodox conversion. As with any hypothetical situation, I can't be sure if relying solely on the books in the Jewish section at Barnes and Noble would have led me to make the same choice. With over three thousand years to cover, I didn't even know what I didn't know.

Websites like Aish and Jew in the City answered a lot of my questions and showed me the beauty behind mitzvot that are often dismissed in other movements. I have no less than six apps on my phone that allow me to instantly reference the Jewish calendar, locate kosher restaurants, or study Torah whenever I find myself waiting around. And recently, the book Building a Sanctuary in the Heart (I highly recommend it) prescribed placing a note in one's pocket to remind oneself of the the purpose of life. I rarely have pockets, but my phone now buzzes daily with an event alert, asking me if I am serving G-d. It's a great way to stay mindful.

I wish I could discuss all these and more with the Rabbis who only see the Internet for its potential pitfalls. Because Judaism has never been a religion of escaping the physical world to seek the spiritual; rather, we sanctify food, sex, time, money, and yes, technology. A man can look at porn or search for his beshert. A woman can leave anonymous catty comments about celebrities or send emails to make her loved ones smile. It begins and ends with personal choice, not the device. As a people who are to be the light unto the nations, it is a mistake to choose to stay behind in the Dark Ages.


Baroque Etah...

With hemlines falling lower and necklines climbing higher in recent seasons — and judging from the Spring shows thus far, the modesty trend shows no sign of slowing down — it makes sense that designers would hark back to the days when ladies covered up without sacrificing a spare inch in exquisite detail. I for one am in love with this throwback. Let's party like it's 1699.

                                                       Topshop for Nordstrom


                                                                 Clover Canyon



Thursday, August 30, 2012

Let's Have a Little Style Moment.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are just around the corner. What to wear, what to wear...

Perhaps peplum + print?

Or do the High Holidays call for a high waist and lace?

Love sequins for day. An essential tee keeps it down to earth.

Happy Shopping -


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ode to Lobster Bisque.

My dearest,

Is it any coincidence that the word 'bliss' can be found in the letters of your name? From our very first meeting, I knew it wouldn't be our last, and that I would never be the same. You were so hot, I knew I'd get burned, but I just couldn't wait.

There were so many times, it's hard to keep track. I've had you up and down the East Coast, rendezvoused with you on vacation, but it was never enough. Every time I had you in front of me, it was like the rest of the world just melted away. There was only you and me. Me and you. All manners went out the window and I didn't care who saw.

Baby, neither of us could have foreseen how life was about to change. I never could have imagined that you would become forbidden to me, my only temptation sprung from my only love. Is this what my life has become, that the angel on my shoulder has morphed into a tiny Soup Nazi? Maybe we should have had one last fling before it was official, but it just felt wrong. It had to be over.

I know that you'll find someone else to love you. Not as much as I did-who could?-but they will love you nonetheless. And I will see you in my dreams-


Sunday, August 12, 2012

One is the Loveliest Number.

There is a rather memorable scene in the movie Amelie, in which the movie's heroine of sorts stands on a rooftop and wonders aloud how many couples are, ahem, making it to the Promised Land, if you will, at that very moment. After a montage that one's eyes could go without, she turns to the camera with a wicked smile and whispers, "Fifteen."

I had a similar question, albeit more innocent, the other morning while saying the Shema. A Jew is commanded to recite the Shema twice per day, when one arises and again before retiring. It seems general enough. And yet the Sages implemented specific times by which it must be said each morning and evening. Like most mitzvot, there are many reasons given for these ordinances. But I can't help but wonder, just as we seek to emulate G-d in everything that we do, do specific time frames stack the odds of multiple Jews affirming G-d is One, as one?

I may be right, I may be crazy. Regardless, it gives me a sense of peace to know that I could very well be performing this mitzvah in unity with other Jews. Given the times appropriated and my location in Chicago, those Jews might be in LA or in New York. It's entirely possible that my Shema in the evening is overlapping with a morning Shema somewhere in Israel. Or, who knows, maybe even fifteen.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Nailing it.

So. The Germans got themselves an OPI collection. Those bastards.
I kid, I kid. But I still feel we Jews deserve our own hues, and so I give you,
OPI: The Jewish Collection:

I Like You a Latke (pearly beige)
Israeli Nice to Meet You (teal)
Don’t Jew Want Me, Baby (shimmery purple)
Gimme Somenorah (white with gold glitter)
I’m Not Really a Shadchan (classic cherry red)
Goy Toy (electric fuchsia)
Honorable Menschen (pinkish grey)
Challah Back Girl (bubble gum pink) (natch).



I have no idea how to introduce myself. Trying to encapsulate who I am in words always seems as slippery as the thoughts that inevitably flee the moment someone asks what I am thinking. I can tell you that I am an Orthodox Jew, by choice, not by birth. The story of my conversion is a long and winding one, and rather than tell it from the beginning to the end, I will touch on it here and there, so I'm afraid this blog is going to end up like one of those non-chronological movies that my father hates with a passion. Above all, this blog is my love letter to Judaism, a religion that freed me from my persona, brought me home to my truest self, and most importantly, gave me what I had been craving for years: a close relationship with G-d. For so long, I went through a cycle of ignoring anything remotely spiritual, living according to my own whims, only to burn out and desperately seek some meaning in life. I could never bring myself to attend Mass, but I would sit in an empty Cathedral and try to talk to a deity that always seemed out of reach. I would make lists of how to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend. Looking back, I realize they were my own sort of mitzvot; a part of me realized that G-d really is in the details, and the sacred can be reached in the boundaries we set for ourselves.

I have been blessed with the most incredibly supportive family and friends, and with a group of Jewish friends that is continually growing. They inspired me to begin writing about my experiences, partly because I realize that people are fascinated by my decision, but also because although they patiently listen, I'm sure they will be happy that I have an outlet for this. There are two things that I am proudest of in my conversion: First, that I held my ground and converted in the right way for me, and secondly, that I have managed to maintain close relationships with my non-Jew crew and with Jews of all backgrounds and observance levels. With that in mind, I hope that anyone and everyone feels comfortable visiting and interacting on this page.

Challah at your girl -