Signing Off

Readers,

As you can probably tell, this blog is growing defunct, so after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to seal the deal and declare this project finished. I’ve had a wonderful time blogging here, have made some great friends, and hope that I and my co-bloggers were able to contribute a little to the excellent conversations happening around social justice, Jewishness/Judaism, anti-Semitism, and other vital issues.

Since I first came across blogs, I’ve thought of them as a type of magazine – a serial publication for which cessation is a sign of failure. I don’t think that’s the case here; I and my co-bloggers have the option of continuing here for as long as we like. Rather, I’d like to think of this blog (and my next blog, if I decide to go ahead with it) as a finite collection of writings. I think I’ve said all that I have to say in this space. However, if someone else wants to take the reigns, let’s talk!

You’ll find me at Alas, a Blog, Dinah Press, and Feministe. Co-bloggers – please feel free to update this post with your current location. If this blog is ever taken down, our writings will be made available in another format.

Take care, all!

In unity,
Julie

J Street Los Angeles!

Because I am a glutton for punishment with no sense of restraint, when the email came in saying that J Street was opening up local chapters, not only did I immediately sign up, but I checked off every single skills/interests box. (Can I help it that I’m so well-rounded?)

Sooo, I’m going to need some help, people! Sign up, please! And maybe we can even get a Long Beach branch going? (I have no idea what these local chapters entail, by the way, but I’m pumped.)

(Cross-posted at Alas, A Blog.)

Check it out, y’all

Just a quick note to say:

1. I still exist;

2. Happy Hanukkah!; and

3. Progressive Jewish Alliance’s Green and Just Celebrations Guide, which I helped (a little) to put together, is online! Many union- and eco-friendly vendors and resources for your wedding or bar/bat mitzvah.

Since when is Gore Vidal an expert on anti-Semitism?

Nevermind that being the victim of anti-Semitism doesn’t automatically make you not a rapist, (thanks Melissa), let’s take a look at some of this man’s philosemitic work, shall we?

Vidal’s much-noted distaste for Jews and Judaism comes through most clearly in three essays written from 1970 to 1981. It is rooted in a standard Nietzschean genealogy of morals — Judaism was a slave-religion that, through Christianity, transmitted its ignoble principles to the whole West — and flavored with an aristocratic contempt for Jews as arrivistes. Admittedly, when criticizing the outrageously stupid comments on homosexuality made by Jewish neoconservatives such as Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, and Joseph Epstein, Vidal is in the right. But he puts himself in the wrong when he refers to Jewish writers as “Rabbi” and calls attention to “the rabbinical mind” of one; when he mentions “[Alfred] Kazin and his kind,” says that Hilton Kramer’s criticism of Garry Wills and himself must be “because we are not Jewish,” and calls Podhoretz “a publicist for Israel”; when he describes New York Jewish intellectuals as a “new class,” and then says that “no matter how crowded and noisy a room, one can always detect the new-class person’s nasal whine”; and when he repeatedly insinuates that it is “unwise” for Jews to criticize homosexuals because they “will be in the same gas chambers as the blacks and the faggots.” Every individual remark can be extenuated — at times it even seems that Vidal writes out of a disappointed love of Jews, whom he expects to be liberal on all issues — but the cluster of hostile, sneering, scornful references leaves a very unpleasant taste. There seems no reason, other than anti-Semitic compulsion, for three of the 14 essays in a book ostensibly about sex to be, in reality, attacks on Judaism and on individual Jews.

I do think that the writer is on to something here, at the end: this is a familiar pattern with anti-Semites. There is an admiration based on a kind of imagined camaraderie, for any number of reasons; Martin Luther, for example, was far more positive when he imagined our rejection of Christianity was more due to malfeasance from the Catholics than doctrinal or theological reasons.

However, more to the point: given what this man has previously written about Jews, why should anyone take his analysis of anti-Semitism seriously?

All together now, say it with me:

I’m breaking my long-term blogging hiatus (due mainly to needing to find employment) to weigh in on something that’s been all over the media recently:

Roman Polanski raped a 13-year-old girl. He then ran to France to live a welcomed, upper-class life rather than stay and fight any judicial misconduct with what was and is available in the legal system currently. You know, like all the little people who aren’t artists and who don’t create.

The quality or lack thereof of his movies should not actually be relevant to this at all.

A Yom Kippur Activity

Recently, someone I know said something very smart: that whenever you stop listening to what someone is saying, you’re deceiving them. Meaning that if they’re speaking to you, and you’re nodding along but internally you’ve checked out, then pretending to listen to them is actually a form of lying (not to mention a waste of their energy and breath).

This really stuck with me – and helped me better understand other, similar forms of deceit. So if you’re looking for something to change this year, consider the little ways that you may be deceiving people:

- If you break a promise to someone, or don’t follow through on it fully, then that promise was a form of deceit (and a potential source of stress for them, if they need to make up for what you were going to do).

- If you make plans with someone and then flake, then that is a form of deceit (and a waste of the block of time they set aside for you).

- If you apologize for something but don’t change your behavior, or claim to accept someone’s apology when there’s more that needs to be said, then that is a form of deceit (and an abuse of that person’s trust and vulnerability, and possibly an enabler of more unhealthy behavior on their part).

Everyone knows deceit is an act you want to think long and hard about before performing, but we let ourselves get sloppy with little things like plans and apologies. We rationalize things to make our own lives easier: He won’t notice, she won’t mind, it’ll all blow over anyway. What little things do you do to deceive people? What makes you do them, and are you able to overcome that? What is one form of deceit that you can realistically eliminate from your interactions this year?

a thought

Just finished reading Rodger Kamenetz’s The Jew in the Lotus, which made me think seriously about my love/hate relationship with spirituality. Here’s the part that stood out for me the most:

…to my surprise, I saw a thangka [a Tibetan devotional painting] depicting a dakini, or goddess, dancing next to a large Jewish star. In tantric Buddhism, the six-pointed star is a symbol of the cervix. This is a coincidence worth meditating on. In Judaism, the star is proudly displayed on the flag of Israel. It represents the magen david, the shield of King David. A shield is the outermost layer of protection, what one thrusts out to the world as a mark of identity and a sign of God’s protection. A cervix is in a sense an esoteric part of the body, hidden within, a mystery, the neck of the womb, the channel through which all life emerges. It is purely and uniquely feminine.

In part, this coincidence shows once again how Jewish and Tibetan culture have common historical influences. The six-pointed star originated in ancient Mesopotamia as a symbol of fertility. It did not become a specifically Jewish symbol until the late Middle Ages. The same symbol came into India with the Aryans, where it represented Shakti, the Mother. It entered Tibet along with the teachings of the Hindu tantric tradition.

Think about that next time you put on your necklace. It’s common for women to wear shields. What if it were as common for men to wear doors?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.