Though sex and sexuality is part and parcel of human nature, it is often viewed as something dangerous and wrong.
For decades, Dr. Ruth Westheimer (aka Dr. Ruth), has been America’s sex therapist. The 2019 Hulu documentary movie, Ask Dr. Ruth, tells her story. Born in 1928 to an Orthodox Jewish family in Germany, everything was normal for the first ten years of her life. When it became clear that being a Jew in Germany was dangerous, Ruth (then known by her first name, Karola) was sent to Switzerland on the Kindertransport.
At the age of 17, she emigrated to what was then British controlled Palestine (pre-Independence Israel) and joined the Haganah. Years later, she again emigrated to the United States. Living in New York City, she married, raised her two children and became the woman we know her to be today.
The thing I love about her is that at nearly 100 years old, she has the energy of a woman half her age. She represents hope, life, change, and that a woman can never be limited to what she can do because she is “female”. Her presence first on the radio and then on television, helped to open the door to long overdue conversations about sex and sexuality.
There are some situations which come down to one phrase: damned if you do, damned if you don’t. One of these is Covid-19.
In New York City, the threshold for closing schools due to a rise in Covid-19 cases is 3%. That threshold was met this week. As of today, all public school students and teachers will switch to remote learning until the Monday after Thanksgiving. The response from students, parents, and educators was swift and furious.
I can’t disagree with their anger. Though the city has been watching the numbers with concern this week, the Covid figures coming from inside the schools system have been lower than the city overall. The announcement seemed to come out of nowhere, creating chaos and confusion. The anger also comes from the fact that some businesses are still open (at least for the time being).
This is a problem in which there are no easy answers and many opinions. There will always be someone who is unhappy with whatever path officials choose to take. What we all have to realize is that for now, this is our normal. It sucks to say the least, but until we are all vaccinated, we must the cards we are dealt.
It’s easy to get on a soapbox and rail against whatever one feels is wrong with the world. But sometimes, it takes art and music to give that needed change life.
I Am Woman premiered last year. Starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Evan Peters, and Danielle Macdonald, the movie tells the story of the late singer Helen Reddy. The narrative begins in 1963. Helen (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) is a single mother with a dream of signing a recording contract. Originally from Australia, she is currently living in New York City. Making a living as a lounge singer, it looks like her dream is just that.
Her fate changes when she meets music journalist Lillian Roxon (Danielle Macdonald) and wannabe talent manager Jeff Wald (Evan Peters). Lillian inspires Helen to write her iconic song “I Am Woman“. Jeff straddles to the dual role of husband and manager.
It looks like Helen has everything she has ever wanted. But fame and the constant grind of work begins to take a toll on her private life. Jeff becomes an addict, forcing Helen to take a hard look at her life.
The thing about a movie or television biopic is that it can feel dry and predictable. The womb to tomb story arc has been done to death. But this movie is neither dry or predictable. It is entertaining, charming, and most of all inspiring. I love that the filmmakers wove in their protagonist’s story with the burgeoning second wave of feminism in the 1970’s.
Before Covid-19, working from home for some of us happened only occasionally. Since March, those of us who are still employed and can work from home have adjusted to a much shorter commute.
But, there is a catch. Parents have had to balance their jobs while making sure that their children continue to receive a decent education. Which as any number of parents have attested to over the last few months, is far from easy.
As we get ever close the November 3rd, the question of who wins the election looms ever larger. As early voting has begun, the debate on Thursday was aimed at the voter who has not yet entered the ballot box and/or remains undecided.
I can say that as one who voted today, my mind has not changed. Though you know who made some semi-decent arguments, their power was diminished. Biden owning up to his imperfect past took some of the air out of the accusations. Unlike you know who, he is both willing and able to be a man and admit that in hindsight, some decisions were not wise.
If there was anything that stood out to me, it was the way both candidates spoke. Biden spoke to the camera and to the American people. It was not about him and what he has or has not done. It was about us and what he would do for us as President.
You know who made more than enough “I” statements. If he was not whining about the supposed mistreatment he has received, he boasted about his “accomplishments”.
The one thing that made me laugh was his comment about his “beloved” NYC. Though he left in a huff last year, he now claims that he loves the city.
My hope (and my fervent prayer) is that in January, this country starts on the path to a state of semi-normalcy. That path can only be created when Joe Biden is President.
Issues of religion and politics require a cool head and the ability to direct the conversation in a way that does not cause strife.
In 1979, L’Chayim made it’s debut as a radio talk show on WMCA, a local New York City radio station. Hosted by Rabbi Mark S. Golub, the topics discussed on the program are those of importance to the Jewish community. Back in 1990, the program switched from radio to television and presently airs on The Jewish Channel.
It goes without saying that it a very niche program with a specific audience. I’ve seen a few episodes of this show. It is one of the programs that I will watch while flipping through the channels on a weekend afternoon. While it is fine to watch while killing time, L’Chayim is not one of the programs that I would label as “must see TV”.
Retribution was swift and cold. Forced to become an outcast to her family, she moved to New York City, where she faced a secular world that was far from the ultra-religious world she knew. As a result, she embarked on a series of sexual and semi-romantic relationships that all ended in disaster. Complicating these “relationships” was her still fierce adherence to the Judaism she was raised in.
This is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. Her journey at times is both difficult and universal. Most, if not all of us, go through changes when we are in our teens and early 20’s. But, we do so within the loving bosom of our families. Ms. Vincent had to go through those changes on her own.
I was stuck by several things while reading this book. The first is that the double standard is one hundred times more powerful in the Yeshivish community than it is in the secular world. The second is that she is a survivor who found her backbone. It would have been easy to crawl back to her parents on hands and knees, begging for forgiveness. But she didn’t. The third and most powerful thing is that the reader does not have to be Jewish to understand or relate to her story. If I was a betting woman, I would wager that there are many from all faiths who for any number of reasons, have walked away from the ultra-religious communities they were raised in.
Open House, hosted by Sara Gore, has aired since 2007. On the show, the audience is taken into the homes of the rich and famous. In addition to being the television equivalent of shopping for a new home, the program is also used to showcase the design choices of the homeowners.
Airing on Sunday morning, I feel like this is one of those show that at best serves as background noise and at worst, is the reason the TV is off for a little bit. I sometimes watch it, but I can’t say that I do with regularity or with a sense of eagerness.
If we have learned nothing else about Covid-19 since March, it is that the virus neither knows or cares about the labels and boundaries that human beings have created.
In New York City, there are about a dozen zip codes in both Brooklyn and Queens in which there is a rise in Covid-19 cases. Most of these neighborhoods have a large population of Orthodox Jews. Some have claimed that the city’s response is anti-Semitic.
My personal reaction is the claim is mixed. If I felt it was truly anti-Semitic response, I would be direct in saying so. But it is not antisemitism, it is common sense. If anything, their reactions only amplify the anti-Semitic lies and imagery. Being learned in the text and customs of any religion does not stop this disease. Wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands frequently will stop this disease.
However, the residents of these zip codes are not completely to blame. If the news reports are true, there are not enough Yiddish speaking tracers to reach out to the community. That failure falls firmly on the shoulders of the Mayor and other officials.
The problem with Covid-19 is that common sense and logic are replaced by fear and anxiety. While those responses are normal, given the circumstances, they will not help us in the long run. We need a clear head and a well constructed plan if we are able to return to some sense of normalcy.
Between Covid-19 and the protests against racial injustice this summer, I think it is safe to say that most places in the US are drained in every sense of the word.
Earlier this week, the DOJ (who are working for the President and not for the people) claimed that New York City is an “anarchist state“. The official statement is the following:
New York City is one of three places that “have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities,” leading to its designation as an “anarchist jurisdiction,” the Justice Department said Monday.
I don’t how how they describe anarchy, but this is what I think of when someone says anarchy.
From my perspective, it looks like they think that protests against racism and racial injustice are the work of so-called “anarchists”. If that is the case, this country is in deep trouble. While there will always be crimes and the need for police, there is also the right to protest. If that is what they deem “anarchy”, I will take that over the autocratic police state that is the vision of the current administration.