inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #26 of 61: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Fri 16 Sep 16 08:35
    
<< blindsided in college by no longer being the smartest guy in the
room.>>

This was EVERYONE I went to college with. We &?used to talk about it
late at night instead of studying. How impossible it was to suddenly
realize we DID have to work hard, that everything DOESN'T come
easily, and here's the part that bugged us the most -- that our
instinct was to back away from anything that didn't come easy. 

I dunno if we blamed our parents, tho. (Well, I did.) I don't know
if we just happened to be the same kind of smartlazy kids and that's
why we ended up friends. 

Anyway I think this might be a bit of what Ruth is worried about.
And I worried about it with a family member, who never learned to
ride a bike and now doesn't want to learn to drive. That kind of
thing. 
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #27 of 61: Ruth Bernstein (ruthb) Fri 16 Sep 16 11:16
    
To answer obizuth's question, that also happened to my elder
brother, who called my parents from college once and accused them of
not "making him study more" or offering him the various avenues to
advancement that many of his classmates had benefited from. They
just laughed and laughed, because he was really not the kind of kid
one could make do anything, and in this way we are pretty much all
the same in my family.

I guess I just don't want to get that phone call, especially since
we live in a place where he could learn just about anything. 
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #28 of 61: behind on BADGES! (obizuth) Fri 16 Sep 16 17:45
    
ha, i am laughing at the notion of a kid calling a parent from college to 
yell at them for "not making me study more"! 
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #29 of 61: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sat 17 Sep 16 12:18
    
I don't have a question but I want to say that I love all the
stories about Maxie and Josie and I am glad the stories survived
Josie's vetting. I also love the "What questions did you ask today?"
idea. If I had kids, I would certainly use it. 
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #30 of 61: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Sat 17 Sep 16 14:04
    
Ruth, if I may butt in in the time-honored Jewish parent tradition,
you are gonna get that call. From someone. And it's gonna be about
something. The end. 
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #31 of 61: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Sat 17 Sep 16 14:10
    
Let's talk about jewish day school! I agonized over this. It was
made clear to me that our local, very well regarded jewish day
school would give us a hefty scholarship. I yapped about this to
anyone who would listen for a few months. To hedge my bets, I went
down to register Penny for transitional kindergarten, and the
secretary said she was registered for a really wonderful teacher,
and why didn't I just give it a year and switch over if I didn't
like the experience.

She went to TK in a very tough school where there were lock-downs
and general misery, and she had a great experience because that
teacher was outstanding. By then I had been mooning around our local
public school enough to realize what you did, Marjorie: The
classrooms looked different, and I wanted her to have breadth of
experience. 

But I absolutely mourn the loss of that Hebrew fluency and that
all-in experience. Yes, she cries every Christmas. Yes, she is
self-conscious about being one of four Jews at her school. But when
Trump started being Trump, she instantly recoiled from him because
she knew her Muslim classmates would be harmed by his policies, so
the personal was political. 

Yadda yadda yadda, I guess my question is ... I don't know if I had
one! Maybe we just talk about it. 

One thing I noticed is that the day-school kids never go to shul
("uch, we get enough of that"), and we do because that's all we got.
I don't know if that's true anywhere else. 
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #32 of 61: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sat 17 Sep 16 17:49
    
My nieces went to that well regarded Jewish day school of which you
speak, up until 7th grade. Neither of them finished it through the
eighth grade. Both wanted to switch to public school.  One is in
high school and  other is about to finish college and while, yes,
they know Hebrew and both had lovely B'not Mitzvah, and both are
very clear in their Jewishness, I would say that both are stronger,
more connected feminists than they are Jews. 
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #33 of 61: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sat 17 Sep 16 17:51
    
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inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #34 of 61: Cliff Dweller (robinsline) Sat 17 Sep 16 18:11
    
Thanks for the reminder. I have posted it on Facebook. Picking up my
copy of the book tomorrow.
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #35 of 61: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Sun 18 Sep 16 10:35
    
Oh! I never made that connection, Julie! I love how entwined our
lives are even though we're across the country. It's a lovely
school. That's an interesting perspective.
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #36 of 61: behind on BADGES! (obizuth) Sun 18 Sep 16 11:25
    
i too struggled with not sending my kids to jewish day school. i was very 
smitten with the hannah senesh school in brooklyn, which wasn't far from 
us on the F train. i visited three times before ultimately enrolling josie 
in public school -- for me, the true diversity of our neighborhood schools 
was the big draw. (here in nyc's east village we have four progressive 
diverse wonderful public elementary schools. i realize not everyone has 
this benefit.) we do shul and hebrew school, and judaism is very much a 
home-centric religion -- so much lovely ritutal and noshing to do at home! 
-- but for me the single entity that made my kids love being jewish was 
overnight sleepaway camp. so much evidence that jewish camp is a huge 
positive force in jewish identity formation. (see stats at the Foundation 
for Jewish Camp's web site.) it's still way expensive but less than day 
school, with a stronger correlation to positive jewish feelings. 

i do note in the book that it saddens me, a former jewish day school 
attendee, to see my kids writing hebrew letters. they don't even know 
script and write in wavering block print capitals. their writing looks 
like ransom notes. 
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #37 of 61: Ruth Bernstein (ruthb) Sun 18 Sep 16 15:16
    
I think JDS is not all it's cracked up to be, and I send my kids to
one. I love that they have a solid Hebrew education, and I like that
they are asked to work up to the top of their aptitude. 

I do not love my particular JDS because of its insular and
materialistic vibe, but I think that in my neighborhood that might
be difficult to escape, wherever they go to school. On the other
hand, I do love the fact that our kids can fully participate in the
extra-curricular activities and the school plays, etc. at the Jewish
Day School where in public school they would always be a little left
out.

Both parents in our family work in very multicultural jobs and our
kids' hobbies are the type that focus on skill rather than social
class, so they are exposed to a lot of different cultures through
those activities, but I see them forget that not everyone has the
advantages they do all the time and it rankles. My son talked to one
of the counselors at his computer camp about being a CIT and would
rather spend the summer at Jewish camp (yay Jewish camp) but one of
the reasons, he told me, was that he thought he really needed to
speak Mandarin in order to be a CIT at the computer camp. I am sure
this is not true but it is a window into how he sees the world of
his interests. 
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #38 of 61: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sun 18 Sep 16 19:17
    
If you are reading this and are not a WELL member, you can 
participate by sending comments or questions to inkwell at well.com.
Hosts will
post your comments here.
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #39 of 61: With catlike tread (sumac) Mon 19 Sep 16 14:59
    
It's a wonderful book. Really sound thinking about what we should try
to raise ur kids to be.

And I love Gluckel or Hameln! Had never heard of her!
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #40 of 61: behind on BADGES! (obizuth) Mon 19 Sep 16 15:31
    
GLUCKEL! diarist who you would totally want to sit next to at a wedding. 
total gossip while saying she was not gossiping (my teen taught me that 
"tea" meme? you know, kermit the frog sipping tea to symbolize "i'm not 
talking shit but i am totally talking shit"? i don't know why, it's a 
thing among the youth. but not anymore, since i know about it.) 

anyway, Gluckel was a late 17th and early 18th century businesswoman who 
took over her husband's import/export biz after he died very young, sadly, 
of sepsis. she expanded the product lines, traveled throughout europe to 
places then deemed unsafe or unfriendly to women, and cared very much 
about raising moral kids. she is one of several vintage jewish women in 
the book who very much counter the stereotype of the jewish mother as 
hectoring, nagging, neurotic, cling-y annoyance with no life apart from 
her children. 

some other good ones: rebecca gomez, who in 18th century new england 
built a chocolate business long before Baker's, which bills itself as 
"america's oldest chocolate brand" (HUSH, BAKER'S), and amalia beer, a 
hostess with the mostest in 19th century berlin, who hobnobbed with the 
enlightenment fabulous while still maintaining a strong jewish identity. 
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #41 of 61: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Mon 19 Sep 16 16:23
    
Not a mother, or at least I don't think she had any children, but an
amazing Jewish woman of the 19th century, Ernestine Louise Rose. She
was an early advocate for women's rights, an abolitionist and an
inventor. She invented a room deodorizer and earned money by selling
it.  I read an early biography of her by Yuri Suhl, a family friend,
who also wrote the wonderful "One Foot in America" and "You Should
Only be Happy" about the Jewish immigrant experience. I wrote a
paper about her in eighth grade. She even has a wikipedia entry.
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #42 of 61: behind on BADGES! (obizuth) Mon 19 Sep 16 18:51
    
one thing i discovered while researching the book was that many many 
important jewish women -- including many who worked on improving the lives 
of children -- did not have children. like many abolitionists. it is very 
hard to be out on the front lines of the movement when you have to make 
dinner and dentist's appointments. 

my friend gayle forman, who also has a book out that deals with the 
pressure on mothers (tho hers is a novel, Leave Me) (it's great, you 
should read it) notes that there's a story in The Notorious RBG book about 
her kid getting in trouble in school and the school repeatedly calling her 
over the course of a couple of days and her finally picking up the phone 
and barking HE HAS TWO PARENTS! and hanging up. 
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #43 of 61: Ari Davidow (ari) Tue 20 Sep 16 08:57
    
This is probably the moment I should step in and note that the best place 
to find out about women extraordinaire, mothers or not, is the Jewish 
Women's Archive, which not only has a great encyclopedia (okay, that was 
my project), but a ton of other resources and a great blog and great 
educational stuff--http://www.jwa.org
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #44 of 61: Mary Mazzocco (mazz) Tue 20 Sep 16 16:01
    
(How much do I love The Notorious RBG?)
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #45 of 61: behind on BADGES! (obizuth) Tue 20 Sep 16 17:08
    
i love JWA! i want a "jewesses with attitude" t-shirt. 
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #46 of 61: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Thu 22 Sep 16 07:07
    
In your research or wanderings, <obizuth>, do you see differences in
mothering between mothers in the different branches of Judaism?
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #47 of 61: behind on BADGES! (obizuth) Thu 22 Sep 16 12:17
    
the book is really more about history than modern-day judaism. i'm very 
wary of stereotyping or generalizing -- my anxiety about doing so was a 
big part of why the book was a year late!

<http://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/_blog/The_ProsenPeople/post/five-reasons-my-b
ook-was-a-year-late>

i think there are neurotic parents and chill parents in every cross 
section of life, jewish and not. but if you look back at jewish history, 
when there were so many periods of real risk and profound barriers to 
achievement, jewish mothers were good at getting kids out the door and 
into the world as much as possible. and it was not by encouraging the 
wrong things -- you couldn't suck up when you had no connections and 
didn't know the dominant language, or focus narrowly on standardized 
testing back when that wasn't such a distraction to real learning. i think 
jewish mothers have been very good at figuring out what their kids' 
interests and skills were, then nurturing and encouraging them while 
making clear that the world was not going to do them any favors. 

i do think it's worth pointing out that at several other periods in jewish 
history, jewish leaders have lamented excessive acculturation and worried 
loudly about how jews would lose their specific identity. A book called 
Menorat HaMaor, written by one Rabbi Isaac Aboab in Spain in the latter 
part of the 14th century, warned Jeremiah-ishly against getting too 
comfortable. Jews then were in a privileged position – below the nobility, 
but higher than most Spaniards. As in America and Western Europe today, 
Jews were working as doctors, bankers, merchants, poets, government 
functionaries. Aboab worried that his people were enjoying the trappings 
of wealth and culture a little too much. They weren’t sufficiently 
religious anymore and that would not stand. “They became more Spanish than 
Jewish,” wrote the book’s 1982 translator, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Reinman, 
ominously. “Jewish practice became a cultural vestige, an exercise in 
ethnicity rather than the intensely meaningful experience it is meant to 
be.” mmmm, yeah, plus ca change.
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #48 of 61: Tiffany Lee Brown's Moustache (magdalen) Fri 23 Sep 16 19:24
    

i'm excited to read the book (after i, goy, give it to my husband, secular
Jew, for hanukkah). in the meantime, i wonder: did you deal with how
persecution and trauma affect Jewish families and moms throughout
generations? 

in our family, sometimes when we are trying to sort out emotional and
psychological issues that are rooted in my husband's upbringing, i find
myself thinking about little things like, oh, let's say, all of his
grandparents fleeing the Holocaust. how could that not have great
repercussions on many levels, from communication styles (often secretive)
to self-esteem? how does the awesome mammeleh process that heavy yet
important cultural inheritance, and help the kids process it? if you can
trace a familial habit or tendency that has negative effects on
relationships back to behaviors inculcated in times of persecution -- i
don't know, what does one do with that? 

and as the outsider to that culture, how should a shiksa respond to this
kind of thing? (in my family, there is a somewhat similar Irish thing going
on -- but we are over 150 years out from the Potato Famine and the family's
arrival in the US, and a couple generations removed from Catholicism. the
persecutions are not so fresh and not so recurrent as what Jewish people
face.)
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #49 of 61: behind on BADGES! (obizuth) Sun 25 Sep 16 15:01
    
great questions! 

1. i think a lot of families have trauma. not just the jews. the holocaust 
is indeed heavy as hell (one of my coworkers at Tablet is actually in an 
anthology about the GRANDCHILDREN of survivors and how they experience 
family history, and tho i haven't read Art Spiegelman (MAUS) and Francoise 
Mouly's daughter's book, i could imagine that some of the emotional 
violence and paranoia and depression that Spiegelman grew up with infected 
his child. but i also think we owe it to ourselves and our children to 
work on our own pain and create safe space for our kids -- defining 
yourself solely as a victim, or being trapped by the past, can sometimes 
be a perverse source of pride. i get very angsty when jews try to play the 
WHO IS MORE PERSECUTED game, and act like the holocaust trumps all other 
people's pain. WINNER, WINNER, KOSHER CHICKEN DINNER. and i was fascinated 
to listen to my teenage daughter talking about her israeli camp 
counselors' response to Holocaust Remembrance Day: no matter where they 
fell on teh political spectrum, they had a hard time wrapping their brains 
around the notion of jews as victims. residents of a country founded on 
the ashes of the six million, they were all "but israelis are SO STRONG" 
-- however they felt about terrorism/the west bank, they agreed on this. 

my husband's grandfather got out of germany six weeks before 
kristallnacht; his siblings and mother made it to brazil. he took his 
mother-in-law and wife to america. there was, shall we say, a lot of pain 
and brokenness in that family, and my generation all still sees it. but 
it's also a source of frustration to us. all i can say is that therapy is  
a wonder, and we do not have to become our parents or grandparents, and if 
the past colors our parenting, it's something we owe it to our kids to 
address. i am sure YOU (and moms still are in most cases the primary 
caregivers) are makng sure gusty feels at home in the world. 

2. YOU ARE NOT A SHIKSA. i don't use this word. it's a slur. it means bug 
or unclean thing. (the male equivalent is sheygetz.) "goy" is a fine word 
-- it just means people or nation. 

i think a good response to Weltzchmerz in general is social action. we can 
all help heal the world. doing so helps us heal ourselves. (did i talk 
about tikkun olam? i forget. a whole chapter of the book, and a major 
value, the act of healing a broken world.) you can volunteer with him -- 
doing trash cleanup in a park, making sandwiches for the homeless, 
dropping off clothes at a shelter, having a tzedakah box and deciding 
togehter where the money should go. i think that is empowering for kids, 
and helpful for parents, to know they're doing their part to try to leave 
this fucked-up world better than they found it. 
  
inkwell.vue.491 : Marjorie Ingall Mamaleh Knows Best
permalink #50 of 61: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Mon 26 Sep 16 10:52
    
I personally don't see a lot of "we had the best holocaust" amongst
jews, but then I'm half armenian so we also had a good holocaust. 

I also recommend picking up a copy of the book well before hanukkah!
which actually falls on xmas this year, which is always helpful.

Maybe this is a good way to segue to your chapter on humor, where
you talk about Jewish humor of yore -- self-deprecating, but also
specifically female-deprecating -- and how that's not the kind of
Jewish humor being propogated now. But you know, our kids are still
going to watch Spaceballs, with the "JAP-y" main character. Do you
have any specific advice for explaining this very recent history and
how it has changed since you and I were teens? 
  

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