Category Archives: Misc

Does Sarah Silverman Have a Point About Hollywood’s “Jewface” Problem?

In today’s media environment, representation is key. After too many years of the Caucasian, Christian, heterosexual male dominating our screens, the call for diversity has only gotten louder and will continue to do so.

Last week, comedian and actress Sarah Silverman called out Hollywood for “Jewface“. In laymen’s terms, it is when a non-Jewish actor plays a Jewish character (ala Kathryn Hahn playing Joan Rivers in the upcoming biopic). Her description of this phenomenon is as follows:

“It’s defined as when a non-Jew portrays a Jew with the Jewishness front and center, often with makeup or changing of features, big fake nose, all the New York-y or Yiddish-y inflection. And in a time when the importance of representation is seen as so essential and so front and center, why does ours constantly get breached even today in the thick of it?”

In response to Silverman’s comments, actor Tony Shalhoub, who plays Rachel Brosnahan’s father in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, (neither of whom are Jewish) said the following:

“We were trained to — at least I was — to not play myself, to play characters and so it’s troubling to me that they’re limiting actors.”

He is right. An actor’s job is to pretend to be someone else. As long as they can play the role, it shouldn’t matter what their ethnicity or family background is. The problem is that too often, a character who is a minority is either ground down to the base stereotype or the actor is Caucasian, but the person they are playing is a POC.

I think she has a point. The problem as I see it is both in casting and the writing. If every performer was hired solely based on their race, religion, or where their ancestors came from, dramatized fiction would be severely limited. While it would be nice to see a Jewish actor playing a Jewish character, I have to be realistic. For me, it comes down to the script. The person I am seeing on screen must be fully drawn. If the writer(s) rely on how they think a Jewish person (or anyone) thinks or feels without making them human, that is where the problem lies.

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Thoughts on a 2nd Covid Rosh Hashanah

Our lives are busy. Between work, school, family, etc., the days easily get away from us. We can easily forget who and what is important as we go about our lives, focusing on schedules and to-do lists.

The Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah is next week.

This is the second year in which Covid-19 has changed the way we do everything. I know it’s extremely cliché, but the last 18 months have been difficult. Sometimes, we have to be reminded to stop and think about what and who is truly important as a pose to what we think is necessary. This virus has held up a collective mirror, forcing us to reckon with reality in ways that many of us have avoided.

Though I have had many troubles over the past year (my mental health issues among them), there are still things to be grateful for. I am grateful for my health, the people I love, my job, my writing, and most of all, the fact that I can still wake up in the morning.

To everyone celebrating, shana tova and may you have a sweet new year.

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Happy Mother’s Day

This is for my mother and all the mothers out there. Happy Mother’s Day!

“My Mother: She is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her.”-Jodi Picoult

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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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I’ve Been Working From Home For a Year

The first anniversary of Covid-19 is is one we will never forget.

March 11th, 2020 was the last time I was in the office. I took off for a long weekend and was not sure what the next Monday would bring. Returning home that Sunday, I saw an email from my company’s CEO that we had the option to work from home. I could have gone back to the office, but the signs were all pointing to working remotely, at least for the time being.

If there was a way to tell my past self that any and all interactions for the next year with my colleagues would be via the computer, I wouldn’t have believed it. I would have said maybe it would have been a month, maybe two. But not a year.

I am more than grateful to be employed with full benefits. The fact that I am able to earn my paycheck while staying safe is increases that feeling ten fold. But not everyone is so fortunate.

The truth is that I am ready to go back to the office. I miss the face to face interaction. I miss the non-work conversations that happen while in passing or in the kitchen. Of course it means getting up earlier, riding the subway, and having to put some thought into my clothes.

Readers, I would love to know your opinion. If you have been working from home, are you ready to go back to the office? Or are you content to stay in your home office?

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Merry Christmas!

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In Spite of Everything, I am Grateful This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the time of year in which we forget what we don’t have and remember what we are grateful. With everything going on this year, it is doubly easy to become negative and angry. But I choose positivity and I choose to look at what I do have.

To everyone celebrating, have a happy, safe, and delicious Thanksgiving.

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Welcome to the Tribe, Tiffany Haddish

When one thinks of a Jewish woman, the image that is conjured is usually that of Barbra Streisand or Fran Drescher.

One does not think of Tiffany Haddish.

A few weeks ago, Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah premiered on Netflix.

The daughter of an African-American mother and an Ethiopian Jewish father, Haddish celebrated her fortieth birthday and embraced her father’s Judaism earlier this month.

I love that she is Jewish and she embraced her Judaism. I love that she reminds audiences that not all Jews look and/or sound like Barbra Streisand or Fran Drescher. We come from all parts of the world and speak as many languages are there are to speak. Some of us have lighter skin, some of us have darker skin.

Either way, we are all Jews and Tiffany Haddish is one of us.

Welcome to the tribe, Tiffany Haddish.

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Thanking Our Veterans

Tomorrow is Veterans Day.

As I see it, it’s more than a day to thank the men and women who have fought for our country. It is a day to see them and appreciate them.

I can only imagine how challenging it is to leave your family and put your life aside to defend this nation. It requires a commitment that dwarfs all other commitments. It means potentially going into battle in a land that is not your own to fight against a people that would happily see your nation destroyed.

To all of the veterans out there, thank you for your sacrifice. Without you, this great nation would not be what it is today.

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Thoughts On Independence Day

For most of the world, the 4th of July is just another day. But for the United States, is our Independence Day.

I am proud to be an American, in spite of our flaws. I am proud to live in a country in which my rights as an individual are respected. I am free to worship as I choose, to ask questions of my government and freely protest when I disagree with their actions. I am free to speak openly without fear of reprisal. This is the land of opportunity, a country in which someone who is born poor has the potential to die rich.

This is a land that opened her door and her arms to million of immigrants (including members of my own family) who were fleeing poverty, persecution and lack of freedom. This is a land in which generations of soldiers have fought and died for.

This is a land that after speaking of the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.We have and continue to right the wrongs of our past by protecting and opening doors to those who in past generations were denied because of who they were.

Happy Independence Day, wherever you are.

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