Monthly Archives: March 2021

The Attack on the Asian Woman in Hell’s Kitchen Could Have Been Stopped

In times of trouble, the following statement comes up:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

The latest incident in the rash of hate crimes against the AAPI community happened yesterday in Hell’s Kitchen, a neighborhood in Manhattan. A sixty five year old Asian woman was kicked and stomped on by a stranger. What makes this incident worse is that it happened in the middle of the day with more than a few people around. Instead of fending off her assailant, the witnesses chose to ignore what was happening right in front of them.

As cliché as the quote above is, it is also the truth. The only way to stop hate and it’s horrendous physical and emotional off shoots is to speak up. Hate crime laws are important, but they are toothless without the assistance of the average citizen. My heart and prayers go out to this woman, may she have a speedy recovery.

P.S. The building employees who chose to walk away should be fired, in my opinion.

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A Passover Challah is a Big No-No

Diversity, as we all know, is a huge thing these days. But diversity for diversity’s sake is meaningless and empty. The only way it works is if we truly understand why a certain culture or faith has certain practices.

Over the weekend, Jews around the world recounted the story of the Exodus via the holiday of Passover. Carly Friesen, a Christian Lifestyle coach, decided to have a “Christian Seder“. The meal was completed by “Passover Challah” and a prayer to the Christian Savior.

If there was ever a definition of cultural appropriation, this is it. Anyone who has any basic knowledge of Passover knows that bread, pasta, and other foods in that category are verboten during the eight days. She could have made a genuine gesture by at least trying to adhere to the traditional food rules of the holiday. The amount of resources she could have pulled information from is nearly endless.

Instead, she took some of the most precious and respected aspects of Judaism and this week and twisted them to fit her needs. It is not exactly a secret that some members of the Christian faith have not exactly been shy about taking everything, including our lives, from Jews at certain points in history. It’s 2021. It’s time to think about how we treat minority cultures and people, especially when it comes to their most sacred objects and traditions.

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House of Glass: The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth-Century Jewish Family Book Review

Every family has secrets and stories that disappear as the elder members of our families pass on. The question is, what happens when the younger members of our families start to ask questions and there is no around to ask?

Last month, writer Hadley Freeman published a memoir. Entitled House of Glass: The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth-Century Jewish Family, the book tells the story of her father’s maternal line in the 20th century. Her grandmother, Sala (also referred to as Sara) was born in Poland, the youngest child and only daughter in a family of six. After Sala’s father died as a result from his World War I wounds, the Glahs (renamed Glass) moved to Paris to escape poverty and antisemitism. All was well until 1939, when the world flipped on its head once again.

Initially inspired by the contents a shoebox Freeman discovered years after her grandmother’s passing, it took her a decade to put together the pieces of this intricate puzzle together. The final result is a thrilling and emotional narrative that speaks to everyone about the complicated topics of relationships, family, and faith.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, History

The Last Blockbuster Movie Review

Those of us of a certain age may remember that the highlight of our weekends was going to Blockbuster Video. But like many corporate brands, it has gone the way of the dodo.

The Last Blockbuster premiered last year on Netflix. The documentary tells the story of the history of Blockbuster Video and introduces the viewer to the last store in the United States. Located in Bend, Oregon, this film contains interviews with the store manager Sandi Harding, celebrities who worked in the store when they were young, and business experts who explain why this once giant of the movie industry is nearly one for the history books.

I loved this movie. As a member of the millennial generation, it is pure nostalgia. Though the Blockbuster where I lived as a teenager and an early twenty-something closed long ago, the experience of entering those doors and being in film heaven is one I will never forget.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Last Blockbuster is available for streaming on Netflix.

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The Jeffersons Character Review: Mother Jefferson

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Jeffersons. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. When we get married, our marriage is much more than the person we said “I do” to. It is also, for better or for worse, that person’s family. I would love to say that every married person gets along with their in-laws. But that is not always the case. On The Jeffersons, Mother Olivia Jefferson, (Zara Cully) does not hide her disdain for her daughter-in-law Louise (Isabel Sanford).

In her mind, Louise is far from the ideal spouse for her son, George (Sherman Hemsley). She takes pleasure in tormenting Louise about everything. But Louise is no shrinking violet. What Mother Jefferson gives out, she gets back tenfold from Louise. But that does not mean that she is completely heartless. When George’s action cross a sexist line, his mother is quick to point out that he is wrong.

To sum it up: A mother’s love knows no bounds. That can also be said about her relationship with her daughter-in-law. Though one could easily put Mother Jefferson in the stereotypical mother-in-law role, it is her ability to step out of the 2D character occasionally that makes her stand out.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

This will be my last character review post for The Jeffersons. Come back next week for the new list of character reviews.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Flashback Friday: Extreme Homes (1996, 2012-2015)

One of the ways we can know a person is by the way they decorate and add personal flourishes to their home.

The HGTV show, Extreme Homes (1996, 2012-2015), took that idea and blew it up times 100. Each episode tells the story of the building of what can only be described as a unique house and how the owners make use of the space within their home.

I find this program to be fascinating. It doesn’t take a genius architect is create your average three or four bedroom house with a garage and a backyard. It does, however, take imagination and ingenuity to color outside of the lines when it comes to home building.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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The Passover Story is Nothing Without the Women

It is not uncommon to open a history book and see a complete profile of a man. A woman, however is at best given a paragraph or a footnote and at worst, ignored completely.

The Jewish holiday of Passover starts this weekend. Though Moses is the protagonist of the story, his story would be nothing without the women around him. Given the many dangers around them, the easier thing would have been to say and do nothing. But instead, they stepped up, helping Moses to succeed and paving the way for Jewish women to do the same in their own eras.

  • Shifra and Puah: Shifra and Puah are the midwives who were responsible for bringing Hebrew children into the world. Brought before Pharaoh, they are told to kill every male newborn. They claim that they are unable to do this because by the time they get to the mother, the baby has already arrived.
  • Yocheved: Moses’s mother was facing a parent’s worst nightmare. Infant boys, when discovered by Pharaoh’s soldiers, were taken to the Nile and drowned. The only way she can save her son is to put him in a basket, send it floating down the Nile and pray that he would survive.
  • Bithia or Batya (sometimes referred to as the Egyptian Princess): Finding baby Moses in his basket as she washes up in the river, it is obvious that this child is of the Hebrew faith. Instead of reporting this discovery and sending him to his death, she adopts Moses and raises him as her own.
  • Miriam: Miriam is Yocheved’s only daughter. Not only does she watch over her baby brother, but she approaches the Princess, asking if she needs a wet nurse. That wet nurse is her mother. Years later, when Hebrews are wandering through the desert, it is Miriam who leads the former slaves via song to get to the promised land.
  • Tziporah: Tziporah is Moses’s wife. Though she is Midianite Princess and not of the Hebrew faith, she embraces his heritage as her own. Traveling with him back to Egypt, she encourages Moses to face his destiny and become the man who will lead his people to freedom.
To everyone who celebrates, have a Happy Passover.
Matzo Ball Wine GIF by Chabad.org - Find & Share on GIPHY

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Filed under Feminism, History, Movies

Throwback Thursday: On the Media (2001-Present)

We all know how important the media and the press is. Especially when it comes to maintaining democracy. But as important as both are, they are equally fallible.

On the Media is a podcast that made it’s debut on WNYC twenty years ago. Hosted by Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone, the purpose of this podcast is to honestly review the different aspects of our media landscape, warts and all.

It is easy to accept a headline or a statement from a politician at face value. It is harder to dig deeper and explore the facts, particularly when those facts contradict the initial statement. On the Media examines both in a way that paints the full picture, helping us to make an educated and non-prejudicial opinion.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of On the Media are released every Wednesday and Friday on WNYC.

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Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote Book Review

The road to justice is rarely short and never easy.

Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote, by Ellen Carol DuBois, was published last year. The book tells the story of the first leg of the American feminist movement in the mid to late 19th century and early 20th century. It starts around the time of the Civil War. Though women in the United States are legally disenfranchised, they are vocal members of the Abolitionist Movement. When black men get the vote and women are still barred from the ballet box, the fire is lit. Led by foremothers such as Lucretia Mott and Sojourner Truth, the reader is taken through the difficult journey that led to the 19th Amendment.

I loved this book. It was one of those history books that has an appeal beyond the expected academic and feminist audience. It was readable and accessible without resorting to a list of dry facts. I also appreciated the spotlight on the African-American women who were just as important to the movement, but were ignored by their white peers.

I recommend it.

P.S. Today is Equal Pay Day, a timely reminder that the battle for real equality is far from over.

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Lauren Boebert Can Shove Her Thoughts and Prayers Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine

There was another mass shooting in the United States yesterday. In Boulder, Colorado, a man opened fire in a grocery store. Ten people, who were doing the simple act of grocery shopping, were killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As usual, there are two distinct responses. The first is grief and anger. The second is a line that has become synonymous with these kinds of heinous acts: “thoughts and prayers”. GOP Rep Lauren Boebert, who is the House Representative for the city, stated the following via her Twitter account:

My prayers are with the shoppers, employees, first responders & others affected by the shooting in Boulder. May God be with them. While we are still awaiting important information and details in this case, random public shootings & senseless acts of violence are never ok.

As far as I am concerned, she can shove those “thoughts and prayers” where the sun doesn’t shine. What bothers me above all else is that these people are her constituents. They voted for her. And how does she respond in their hour of need? The same empty statement used by many members of the GOP who seem to care only about their careers and the wealthy donors who finance said careers.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. We need sensible gun laws that are applicable national wide. We need to protect our communities and our children while respecting the rights of gun owners who follow the law. Until that day comes, this vicious and bloody cycle will begin again as if nothing had happened.

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