Danna Lorch for The Forward
There are literally hundreds of different ways of choosing, wrapping, and storing a set of tefillin [phylacteries]. Eichler’s Judaica superstore offers more than 2,000 tefillin-related items for purchase online alone, from a Swarovski crystal adorned bag, to a military camouflage case, and a strangely economical set of blinged-out gold plastic storage boxes—all to compliment the numerous styles of tefillin available. The tefillin themselves vary in size, according to left or right-handed preference, as well as Sephardi or Ashkenazi affiliation.
Judy Gold is an Emmy-award winning comedian, host of the podcast Kill Me Now, writer and hysterical lesbian mom. She’s also this week’s guest on Kveller’s podcast, Call Your Mother. Co-hosts Jordana Horn and Shannon Sarna get real with Judy about ageism in the entertainment industry, anti-Semitism, her (very funny) coming out story and the deep family secret that impacted her identity.
By Marjorie Ingall for Tablet Magazine
Thirty years after making waves with her children’s book ‘Heather Has Two Mommies,’ author Lesléa Newman traces a young Jewish immigrant’s ‘Journey’
You wouldn’t think a sweet, celebratory picture book about a little girl’s first day of preschool would trigger such rage. Or maybe you would, if the little girl in question happened to have LGBT parents. When Heather Has Two Mommies debuted in 1989, it rocketed up the American Library Association’s list of most frequently banned and challenged books in the United States. In the 1990s, it was the ninth most contested book of the decade; it was burned, pooped on, returned to libraries with the pages glued together.
By Leah Koenig for Tablet Magazine
Food writer Jake Cohen cooks with soul at his monthly Friday night gatherings
On a recent Friday morning, Jake Cohen could be found chopping rainbow carrots, watermelon radishes, orange cauliflower, and a pile of other heirloom vegetables to serve as crudités alongside bowls of sweet potato hummus. A 16-quart (read: enormous) stock pot brimming with Persian bean and noodle stew called ash e reshteh rested in the fridge. Also prepped and chilling: many pounds of brisket, sweet noodle kugel, the elaborate makings of several cheese boards, and a sheet pan of his signature sumac and sea salt-spiked brownies.
A Wider Bridge
A Wider Bridge is deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court has reinstated President Trump’s partial ban on transgender people in the United States Military.
Transgender Americans who wish to serve their country deserve the same respect and decency from their representative government as cisgender people. The administration’s proposed policies, which would strip trans people of their dignity, are rooted in bigotry and fear. These policies echo similar efforts throughout history to discriminate against gays and lesbians, immigrants, people of color, Muslims and Jews.
By Vladislav Davidzon for Tablet Magazine
Artist Yevgeniy Fiks believes in a future of Yiddish-speaking space colonies
One morose and rainy Sunday afternoon in late November, the kind that presages the final days of a New York autumn, a motley group of intellectuals and connoisseurs of Yiddish gathered on the Lower East Side. The Russian-American conceptual artist Yevgeniy Fiks was on hand to deliver an artist talk and personalized tour of his charming exhibition “Yiddish Cosmos” (through Dec. 16), a playful historical jaunt through the history of the Jewish aspects of the Soviet space program. The exhibition was arranged on the second floor of the Stanton Street Shul, one of the last functioning Orthodox synagogues in the neighborhood. Beneath stylish prints of the Soviet cosmonaut Boris Volynov—who was the first Jew in space, and would have been one of the very first men in space if his historical flight along with Yuri Gagarin on the first Voskhod rocket mission had not been bumped because of his ethnicity—were futurist Yiddish slogans.
Aviya Kushner for The Forward
The Israeli poet Yona Wallach memorably wrote that “Hebrew is a sex maniac.” Wallach, who died in 1985, was no stranger to attention-grabbing subjects: One of her poems discusses sex with tefillin.
Today, pronouns are a hot topic, and Wallach’s poem “Hebrew,” which explains why gender-neutral language is easier to accomplish in English, is the perfect place to begin thinking about why that is.
By Bonnie Azoulay for The Forward
Chella Man is the first deaf Jewish-Asian model to sign with IMG — one of the most prominent modeling agencies in the world. The agency, which is known for an inclusive work environment, boasts a rolodex of models including Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, Ashley Graham and other industry giants.
“There is an extreme lack of representation for young, Deaf, queer, Jewish, Asian, transgender artists — sorry, that is a mouthful!” he told Teen Vogue. “I decided to be my own representation,” he said.