By: Hilary Weissman
The moment I first heard that there was such a thing as a “destination Bar or Bat mitzvah”, I wasn’t that surprised, just a little nauseous. The images of private jets and lots of chattering 13-year-olds on an all expenses paid trip to the Caribbean to celebrate turning another year older could potentially taint the sanctity of the generations of tradition of being called to the bima.
You’ll have to excuse my weekend marathon of Bravo TV for making me wonder aloud (or at least in text) whether ‘Real Housewife’ Jill Zarin, a proud Jewish mother who divulged the legendary secrets kept by such a creature in her titular book collaboration with her sister and late mother, would choose to let her children and family experience the newest trend at their own coming of age ceremonies. She and the other Manhattan mavens seem to stereotypically flock to St. Bart’s in the winter months, which is the pre-cursor to becoming a “snow bird” in Boca after retirement, and my first reaction in hearing about the vacation celebrations of Jewish young man and womanhood was to think that this could be the “plot” line of the hit reality show in about ten years (Zarin has a two-year-old daughter). Continue reading
By Ariana Siegel
On the Hebrew calendar, today marked the 9th of Av, about 1,940 years after the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem. On the Gregorian calendar, today marked the 20th of June, about 3 months after the destruction of the BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.
The collision of these two devastating events on a single day was commemorated by an unusual coalition of religious and environmental organizations at a rally outside the Capitol. With support from groups including Greenpeace, Public Citizen, Moveon.org, as well as The Shalom Center, Shomrei Adamah of Greater Washington, Am Kolel, and the Teva Learning Center, attendees of the rally called on Congress to “Get dirty fuels out of our air and water,” and “Get dirty money out of our politics.” Continue reading
By Hilary Weissman
The next book on my summer reading list will definitely be Gary Shteyngart’s newest dystopian novel Super Sad True Love Story. Maybe it is because of Erica Jong’s rave review in the July/August issue of Moment, or because I feel slightly sorry for the satirical author’s skewed sexual awakening at Oberlin College, which Jong revealed in her interview with him in the same issue, or maybe it is because his sense of humor seems to evoke that “I am so uncomfortable, but this is hysterical” feeling of a Judd Apatow film. But it is probably because I love James Franco.
If you are thinking that my last reason is irrelevant, it’s because you haven’t seen Shteyngart’s high-larious new trailer for his third novel. He uses his position as a professor at Columbia University, to which Edmund White incredulously marvels “They let him teach at Columbia? Oh my God, the poor kids,” to get the recently enrolled student Franco among other literary fixtures like Mary Gaitskill, Jay McInerney and Jeffrey Eugenides to sing his praises, kind of. From the allegations that Shteyngart has actually never read before, which allows him to write in a voice so unaffected or influenced out of pure ignorance, to his lessons on how to behave at a Paris Review Party- a seminar that Franco aptly excels in, to his failed attempts at wooing debutantes from Mount Holyoke University, this video actually made me laugh out loud. Continue reading
By Hilary Weissman
Like most Jews of a certain age, I came back from my Birthright trip saying it was “amazing” and “impossible to describe.” You really did “just have to be there” to understand. However, upon my return from Taglit this past winter break, I launched right into my jam-packed college schedule. I had sorority recruitment, spring classes, and an online internship waiting for me. They left little time to increasing my observance of Shabbat. I honestly never got the impression that my Birthright experience was supposed to impose a sense of obligation to become a more observant Jew, which is so subjective in and of itself. While I keep in touch with some of the soldiers we met through Facebook and see the other students on campus, and I can now vicariously live through my parents’ anniversary plans to visit Israel in the fall, I have yet to make solid plans to return again beyond daydreams. Continue reading
By Hilary Weissman
Maybe I am sensitive because I happen to be a Jewish teenager (until the end of October), but has anyone else noticed the focus in the media in recent years on the mystical legend that is the Jewish American Princess, especially from Long Island? I’ll admit; I take it as a compliment when people are surprised that I come from such a place, but come on, are we all really that bad?
What happened to the good old days when the most prevalent stereotype in relation to the American Jew was the crazy yenta that was the Jewish mother? She was overbearing, nervous, hungry, and always ready to dole out her opinion and a sweater, no extra charge beyond a kiss and the reassurance of your whereabouts. These days, it’s the daddy’s credit card wielding, nose-job denying, designer label bearing teens that are the picture of the Jewish-American youth, and it makes me cringe.
Why the rant attempting to defend my cultural background’s honor now? There is E!’s newest special “Long Island Princesses Unleashed,” though not all are Jewish, one even delightfully calls her self a “pizza-bagel” (Half Italian/Half Jewish, naturally). Then there was the release of the online parody video of “Rachel and the Dragon,” Disney’s first ever Jewish American Princess who hails from Dix Hills, back in December.
By Hilary Weissman
Those of you religious “The Daily Show” watchers may have noticed that Jon Stewart mentioned Moment Magazine in last night’s broadcast. You didn’t? Maybe you didn’t watch that short clip close enough, but Stewart took a slight jab at President Obama’s reception at the White House in recognition of Jewish American Heritage month. Moment’s editor and publisher Nadine Epstein was among the honored guests in attendance. She can be more clearly seen donning a creme hat and camera in this video of D.C. native Regina Spektor’s performance of “Us” (skip to :47-:50!).