Millions of babies, the Holocaust, and gender segregation. It’s the weekend!

I spent this Saturday morning being told I was the byproduct of a silent Holocaust, so my weekend went really well.

It started when our friends had a baby, which, amongst other things, caused my mom to shift into overdrive:

Our friends just had a very cute baby girl and they invited us to the Hebrew naming ceremony at an Orthodox-ish synagogue.  I immediately sensed that this would be a bad experience from the minute we walked in and I was separated from Mr. B and told to go to the right-hand side with all of the other confused and equally Godless Russian women from our friends’ families.

In Orthodox synagogues, women are separated from men by a mechitza, which is,

the physical divider placed between the men’s and women’s sections in Orthodox synagogues and at religious celebrations. The idea behind this is twofold. First, mingling of the genders is generally frowned upon, as this leads to frivolity, which itself may lead to promiscuity. Secondly, even if the sexes are separated, they should not be able to interact to a high degree during a religious service, lest this lead to gazing and impure thoughts. Due to these restrictions, mechitzot are usually opaque (at least looking from the men’s side to the women’s side).

Who am I to criticize this practice? Obviously it works for some people and the way they celebrate God.  People who think that it’s the woman’s fault if a man gets distracted during services.   If only us women were less sexxxy during services.

I don’t have a problem with the separation, per se.  If it’s equal.  Separate, but equal.  Like, if the male rabbi preaches to the males and a female rabbi preaches to females. Or at least if there is as much seating on the women’s side as there is on the men’s. Obviously, this did not happen, and I spent the whole service straining a bit to hear what the rabbi was saying during the parsha before the naming ceremony was underway because he wasn’t really intent on talking to us wymyn as he was on telling the men that there is a second Holocaust going on, and that that particular Holocaust is intermarriage.

I’ve heard this kind of rhetoric in the Jewish community tons of times before and it wasn’t really new to me, but I could hear Mr. B raising his eyebrows all the way on the other side of the men’s section.    I just  couldn’t wait to text my mom and dad and tell them they were the next Hitler and Goebbels.

The service went on for maybe an hour, during which my friend came with her daughter  and all the women, bored senseless by the service which wasn’t explained to them and which was going on forever, crowded around and started fussing with her, and as a result, were thoroughly shushed like kindergartners by the rabbi.   Then,the rabbi stopped and asked if the mother was present, and our friend said she was. Obviously the mom couldn’t go on the men’s side during the ceremony, so he asked her to come up to the mechitza and say the baby’s name over the mechitza so that the men (not womenz!) could bless the baby.  Then, the men on the other side, from what I could see, started performing the hora and through a slit in the mechitzah glanced at the baby, blessing her. It looked something like this:

It’s one of the most bizarre things I’ve experienced in my life, aside from that time Mr. B and I were in Jerusalem and we thought an Arab was trying to shank us but all he really wanted were some cigarettes. That a mother and father are not allowed to be present together and the mother, the one that gave life to the baby was sidelined and portrayed simply as a vessel for more Jews to come through the chute as opposed to a human being, bummed me out worse than that time I wrote about depressing Russian baby songs.  At the end of the dancing, the rabbi asked the mom to hold the baby up to his ear to hear what she was telling him, and what it turned out that she was telling him was for her mom and dad to bring her to services every week from now on.  What an astute baby.

After the dancing subsided and we wimminz were settled down, the prayers continued.  And continued.  For another hour, with the rabbi breaking off to entice us areligious Russian Jews to come to services to “find out what being a Jew is” and to really, really stop mixing meat and milk or we would all go to a hell that would probably include, amongst other things, mechitzot for all.  I’m guessing he didn’t know that I already know what “being a Jew is” for me and- pro tip – it doesn’t include being treated like a baby machine (which actually would be a pretty cool idea to patent.)

After the second hour was over, I stood outside with some other girls as we waited for our husbands to come out.  Unfortunately,  the congregation’s men had jumped on them like white on rice and were proselytizing in full force.   Obviously, we weren’t even good enough to be proselytized at, which is kind of sad, because I was kind of looking forward to discussing the merits of separate-but-equal hell in Hebrew with them.

As we sat down in the car, Mr. B and I looked at each other, and neither of us said anything.  On the way to the restaurant, we got into a huge fight, the tension from the synagogue escalating the initial small problem.  All of the stress and anger we’d both experienced at the synagogue came out, and at the end we realized it, apologized, and relaxed.

I looked at Mr. B.  “Let’s have kids just so they don’t go to that synagogue, ”  I said.  “I’m with you, half-breed,” said Mr. B, and we walked, hand-in-hand to the restaurant.


This Tu B’Shvat, I’m buying a donkey and a plane ticket to Haifa

Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish festival for the birthday of the trees, is tonight.   Since it’s been a while that I’ve been part of something Jewish (living with Mr. B does not count as doing something Jewish, although sometimes I try to pass it off as such,)  I wanted to celebrate, which involves planting trees and eating fruits of the Torah (pomegranates, dates, olives, and Bamba.)

Unfortunately, we don’t have any Bamba and Mr. B hates olives in the same way that Hamas and Fatah hate each other.   So, instead, I tried to get Mr. B and myself enthused about going to a Tu B’Shvat event, namely this event by the awesome awesome Sixth and I (where we’ve gone for stuff before).  Here is a description of the event:

Embrace your inner environmentalist by joining us for a Tu B’Shvat celebration. Dine and drink your way through a traditional seder as we sprinkle in tasty Kabbalistic tidbits and nature-inspired yoga poses. Tu B’Shvat; its more than just trees.

Tu B’Shvat, traditionally known as the birthday of the trees, is a time to think about relating to the natural world. This holiday can be celebrated by planting trees, eating fruits, and having a Tu B’Shvat seder, a ritual that began with the Kabbalists of the 15th century. At our seder, we’ll enjoy some new and exotic fruits, discuss issues of sustainability, and discover connections between environmentalism and Judaism.

Not to be a drag, but yoga poses?  Really?  And sustainability?  I hate that word more than Mr. B hates olives.   Which makes me wonder, what have we as a Jewish people turned into?

Here’s how hipsters spend Tu B’Shvat:

Please take note of:

  • The ironic hipster glasses
  • The ironic bright orange almost American Apparel-like tee
  • The ironic non-leggings sweatpants meant to resemble sweatpants from the 1980s
  • The ironic laugh

And here’s how real Jews spent Tu B’Shvat.  You know, building the land of Israel.  Although Guy on the Left’s yoga shorts look really comfy.  He probably got them at American Apparel.


I think, through all of this, it’s incredibly important not to underestimate the blows to his sanity that Mr. B experiences on a regular basis by being married to me:


No Photoshop Thursday today, for a good reason :)

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been doing a lot of tweaking of Le Blog lately. Actually, I always do a lot of tweaking on this blog, the same way I keep coming back to that last slice of ice cream cake, picking at it, taking off the little chocolate chips, then eating a corner, then oh, what the hell I’ll eat the whole thing.

I’ve been thinking about how to be a more entertaining blogger, a more useful blogger,  and generally about how to Lift Humanity’s Spirits.  Also reduce the national deficit.  Just as Steve Jobs announced the cure for cancer yesterday, I am excited to announce the launch of a couple of other things on my domain name,

Blog Changes

First, this blog will become more personal in nature, as you can probably tell from my new masthead (click to enlarge):

Which differs from my old masthead (click to enlarge):


Second, I’m splitting out writing about international affairs (and, to an extent, econ) to a separate blog called The Walrus and the Carpenter. Come and visit! I will be writing about the Middle East, India, and why I’m so obsessed with Afghanistan (hint: the kebab.)  Discussions about my mother’s disappointment in me will take place only on this blog, as scheduled.


Third,  there will be no more Photoshop Thursdays because all of my writing, Photoshop, and other creations are now going into my portfolio!  which you can see and subscribe to the RSS feed:

Hooray!  A big thank you to Mr. B, who solved all my technical problems throughout this process (although he did have to be bribed with borscht.) And thank you to you for reading :)


My B.S. in Economics is no match for fist pumping

Today on Facebook, I was lamenting my life, as usual:

This comes from my rigorous economic analysis of the recent MTV phenomenon Jersey Shore, which I have been studying every Thursday night at 10:00 pm EST.   The cast members, who, in real life, were working at jobs such as assistant gym manger (The Situation),  a DJ (Pauly D) and a receptionist (Snookie), are now earning a reported $10,000 per appearance, plus security and transportation. Meanwhile, the only thing I get per appearance at my parents’ house is a thorough questioning on why Mr. B and I are not having kids yet.

STOP.  Are you reading this, having never watched Jersey Shore?   Here’s everything you need to know.

Back to the economic phenomenon of increased demand for these cast members.  How does this happen?   An astute student of economics breaks it down:

In December after the show began airing E! Online reports appearance fees of about $7500 per person for The Situation and DJ Pauly D, $2000 plus transportation for Snooki, and about $3500 per person for JWOWW, Vinny, or Ronnie.

Now there is a limited supply of Jersey Shore cast members, just 7 (not including Angelina, who ended up being an inferior good). As with normal consumer goods, with a limited supply the price will increase as the scarcity effect occurs when demand increases. Flash forward to January, when the infamous Snooki getting punched in the face at the club scenario occurs. According to Perez Hilton, Snooks now takes in $10,000 per appearance after the assault! That is 5 times more than her original fee.

and the post goes on to outline why Snooki was economically elastic after being punched at a club  (meaning that as her price changes, demand changes as well, as opposed to an inelastic good like gasoline, for which demand doesn’t change too much based on price.)

What have we learned here?

1.  There needs to be less of me so that I am more in demand for all the jobs I fulfill: consultant, wife, writer, unpregnant daughter, friend, and Edy’s Fruit Bar consumer.   How can I atomize myself so that people will pay  me to appear at not only clubs, but also in my own living room, my computer, and at the Giant grocery store near my house?  I think I will start by informing Mr. B that I will now start appearing in The Kitchen only on certain nights after 10:00 pm for Happy Hour and will only cook on demand.  Also, there will be techno.

2. Something violent needs to happen to me so that I will emerge into a national sensation and start going on shows with Michael Cera and Rachael Ray.

3.  I need to stop watching this show and go on with my normal life.