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