DR. DEBORAH BEREBICHEZ, PHYSICIST
Confidence Counts Longing for Lingerie â€“ That Fits
photo by Bruce Press Photography
Classic Jewish Recipes, Reimagined
Women to Watch
The (Jewish) Mother of the Father of Impressionism
publication of JWI1 JW Magazine a | jwmag.org
women to watch
The 15th annual celebration of extraordinary Jewish women and their achievements will be
Monday, December 7, 2015
tickets at jwi.org/wtw
at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
6 HOW D'YA LIKE THEM APPLES? Apple-inspired gifts for the season.
Maidenform Collection, 1922-1997, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
WOMEN TO WATCH
This year’s Women to Watch share a common purpose – to build a more just and compassionate world.
BY SUSAN JOSEPHS
23 A PEACEFUL HOME
Look a little deeper and you may find that hanging a mezuzah can help you build a more meaningful life.
BY REBECCA EINSTEIN SCHORR
27 MAKING OURSELVES HEARD
From your first day on the job and throughout your career, a lack of confidence can hold you back from becoming the incredible woman you're meant to be.
BY GALIT BREEN
33 GO FIGURE!
Women are choosing underthings to please themselves. Isn't it about time?
BY RACHEL DELIA BENAIM
39 TURNING THE PAGE
Across the U.S., JWI children's libraries are easing the transition for families uprooted by domestic violence.
BY MEREDITH JACOBS
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Love reading JW magazine? Become a supporter of JWI! Every $25 you give to support our work to empower women and girls comes with a year's subscription to JW.
Volume 18 Number 3 EDITOR
Susan Tomchin CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Danielle Cantor CEO
Loribeth Weinstein VICE PRESIDENT, MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS
Meredith Jacobs BOARD OF TRUSTEES Kim Oster-Holstein, Meryl Frank Beth Sloan Chair Toby Graff Ellen Stone Vivian Bass, Chair-Elect Mardi Kunik Susan W. Turnbull, Robyn Altman Immediate Past Chair Erica Leatham Miri Cypers Sandy Unger Diane Radin Nicole Feld Rabbi Susan Shankman Suzi Weiss-Fischmann Susan Feldman Deena Silver
JW is published twice annually in print by JWI and year-round online. Inspired by our legacy of progressive women’s leadership and guided by our Jewish values, JWI works to ensure that all women and girls thrive in healthy relationships, control their financial futures and realize the full potential of their personal strength. JW magazine is distributed to donors and supporters of JWI and is available for purchase at $5.99 per issue. Postmaster: Please send address changes and inquiries to JW, 1129 20th Street NW, Suite 801, Washington, DC 20036. © Contents JWI 2015 The articles and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the view of JWI or any member thereof. Advertising in JW does not necessarily imply editorial endorsement or guarantee kashrut of products.
Connect with JW and JWI: facebook.com/jewishwomeninternational
Call 800.343.2823 or visit jwmag.org/subscribe. JW Magazine | jwmag.org
JewishWomenIntl youtube.com/JewishWomenIntl 1129 20th Street NW, Suite 801 Washington, DC 20036 jwi.org • jwmag.org 800 343 2823
43 FIVE CULINARY CLASSICS, REIMAGINED
With contemporary ingredients and innovative techniques, Jewish chefs and cookbook authors are breathing fresh life into traditional Ashkenazi dishes.
BY JAYNE COHEN
54 JWI AT WORK
photo by Dan Goldberg ÂŠ 2015
From building community among young Jewish women to changing the culture of U.S. college campuses, JWI is making a difference.
59 THE MOTHER BEHIND THE GREAT ARTIST
BY SUE TOMCHIN
New publisher Fig Tree Books promises stories that get people talking.
62 NOW READ THIS
Nine absorbing glimpses into women's lives, both real and imagined.
BY SANDEE BRAWARSKY
Rumors of community leaders' inappropriate behavior need more than an ad hoc response.
BY DEBORAH ROSENBLOOM
In her latest novel, the third on a Jewish theme, Alice Hoffman reimagines the story of Rachel, the unconventional mother of Camille Pissarro, the father of Impressionism.
BY SANDEE BRAWARSKY
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
in the next issue of
to reach affluent, educated Jewish women across the U.S. and around the world.
The winter 2015 issue will be online in November; call 202.464.4803 or email email@example.com to reserve space now! 4
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Kim Oster-Holstein Chair, JWI Board of Trustees
“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” ~Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State It takes courage to speak up, and silence isn’t an option. For women who care, there’s work to be done. Welcome to our fall issue. We celebrate the start of year 5776 by introducing JWI’s 10 Women to Watch. Whether arguing before the Supreme Court about marital benefits for same-sex couples, advocating for girls in the sciences, or using spiritual wisdom to empower women’s lives, these women are not afraid to speak out and step up when they see injustices or face personal challenges. Their courage is inspiring, their accomplishments extraordinary. As women, it’s not always easy to reach this empowered place. Hampered by self-doubts, we often think we aren’t ready or able to make a case – either for ourselves or a cause. As you’ll read in our story, “Making Ourselves Heard,” many of us must work very purposefully to develop confidence so that we can clearly express our own truths and convey our ideas with strength and conviction. JWI has a lengthy track record of speaking out on difficult issues and creating innovative avenues for education, advocacy and philanthropy that impact women’s lives. It’s no accident that JWI’s mission reads: Vision, Voice and Leadership to Empower Women and Girls. And this mission
resonates across generations, from BBYO teens involved in JWI’s Girls Achieve Grapeness campaign and healthy relationship programs to members of Maplewood/South Orange Chapter, which recently celebrated its 70th birthday. As chapter president Lila Kantrowitz, 92, proclaimed: “We’re not the way we were, but we’re still here – that’s what’s significant – and we’re still pursuing our philanthropic activities.” What an amazing testament to the power of a group of women working together and using their voices to change the world! This year, JWI’s work has flourished. In partnership with SDT and ZBT, our timely on-campus initiatives in the Greek community to address sexual assault and promote bystander intervention are expanding. The Young Women’s Leadership Network has gained momentum, offering monthly programs providing opportunities for networking and peer-to-peer mentoring. In the coming year, the network is projected to expand to two other cities. Our financial literacy activities are thriving, bringing awareness to women at different life stages, including our latest audience, women over 50 attending "Know Your Worth, Own Your Future: Financial Education for Women in Transition," a joint initiative between JWI and Hadassah. I wish each of you a healthy and happy year. May this be a year in which you use your voice to speak out boldly, for yourself – and for the powerful work we do at JWI! JW Magazine | jwmag.org
HOW D'YA LIKE THEM APPLES?
MINI APPLE FRUIT BONSAI SEEDS ($3.49) to grow a tiny apple tree at home. etsy.com/shop/OneFlowerShop 6
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
photo by Arjun Kartha
Apple-inspired gifts for the season
APPLE DOG COLLAR ($17) from Wagologie, available in ⅝-inch or ¾-inch and small, medium or large. etsy.com/shop/Wagologie PERSONALIZED CHILDREN'S ROSH HASHANAH PLATE by Bull City Studio, melamine, available in four colors and two sizes: 8-inch ($18) or 10-inch ($18.50). etsy.com/shop/BullCityStudio 100% cotton APPLE PILLOW COVER, made to order, available in 16-inch square ($10.50) or 20-inch square ($14). etsy.com/shop/KoreaBacol
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
A JWI E-CARD is a New Year's gift that counts. Donate $10 at jwi.org/tribute and we'll email a tribute card to anyone you choose.
Above: BITE OF THE APPLE STOOL in green ($176.99) and red ($149.99); from Dot & Bo. dotandbo.com Left: APPLE PEELER, CORER & SLICER ($26.95) with suction-cup base; from Gardener's Supply Company. gardeners.com or 888.833.1412 Below: An apple display for Rosh Hashanah â€“ folded stainless steel ALESSI V SERVING TRAY ($194). moderntribe.com or 877.324.1818
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Like apple pie in a jar – Sarabeth's kosher CHUNKY APPLE PRESERVES ($11) with cinnamon and spices. sarabeth.com or 800.773.7378 Zabar's kosher 3-pound TRADITIONAL APPLE BUNDT CAKE ($26.98) is available by mail-order for holiday delivery. zabars.com or 800.697.6301
Michael Aram GOLD-TONE APPLE HONEY POT ($90); 4 ½" high, spoon included. michaelaram.com Mrs. Prindable's GOURMET CARAMEL APPLES are kosher-certified and come in a variety of flavors and two sizes: jumbo ($23.99 to $29.99) feeds 8 to 10 people; petite ($34.99 for four) feeds one to two. mrsprindables.com or 888.215.1100
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Making special moments extraordinaryâ€Ś
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
1 O WO M E N TO WATC H
This year’s Women to Watch share a common purpose – to build a more just and compassionate world.
BY SUSAN JOSEPHS
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Every day, Rebecca Alexander engages in a constant “juggling act” between her vision and her hearing. “In the span of minutes, the battery in my hearing aid could break down or I can’t see the text on my computer,” she says. “But for me, this is a way of remembering how fortunate we are to have what we do have.” Since receiving a diagnosis with a progressive genetic disorder, Usher Syndrome Type III, which causes deaf-blindness, Alexander has never allowed her disabilities to prevent her from pursuing her life goals. Told by doctors that she would be completely blind by 30, the now 36-yearold, New York City-based psychotherapist maintains a busy private practice, works as a spinning instructor, participates in extreme athletic endurance races, and recently hiked Mount Kilimanjaro. In the last year, she’s also traveled the country to speak about her acclaimed memoir Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found.
As a teenager Alexander was selected to be an Olympic torchbearer in the 1996 Atlanta Games for her volunteer work delivering meals to people living with HIV/AIDS. Active in her San Francisco Bay area synagogue, “The Jewish community was a huge part of my support system,” she says of coping as a child with vision and hearing loss and the divorce of her parents. “And my grandmothers were huge role models. They taught me how important it is to acknowledge the things in your life that are going right.” Alexander also traces her resilience to an accident she had at 18. After falling out of a second-story window, she delayed her studies at the University of Michigan and spent a year recovering from surgeries and healing multiple broken bones. “I would spend hours picking up marbles with my toes and putting them into a cup, then dumping them out and doing it again,” she recalls.
After receiving her undergraduate degree in “To American Culture, Alexander successfully battled an eating disorder that use the parts arose because “I thought that if I looked as perfect as possible then of my body that no one would know I had a disability.” Determined to be in a are as physically “helping” profession, she earned capable as anyone master’s degrees in social work and public health at Columbia else’s, to the best of University and built a thriving practice. “I think my abilities, is so it’spsychotherapy important for a therapist to be empowering.” a real person,” she says of her profes-
“I wanted to give voice to others who are also going deaf and blind and allow them to know that they are not alone. This has been more meaningful than anything else,” says Alexander of her book, which she decided to write at the suggestion of a literary agent who watched her tell her story on The Today Show. With just 10 degrees of vision, a cochlear implant in one ear and a hearing aid in the other, Alexander lives independently with her beloved dog, Olive, uses a cane for walking at night and credits her “sanity” to daily highintensity exercise. “To use the parts of my body that are as physically capable as anyone else’s, to the best of my abilities, is so empowering,” she observes. 12
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
sional success. “And my patients know they have to help me too by speaking clearly and louder if I don’t hear them.”
Fiercely committed to organizations such as the Foundation Fighting Blindness, Alexander hopes to keep inspiring others who face “their own challenges. I never imagined living with as little vision and hearing as I do today but I’ve never been more at peace with myself,” she says. “I’ve learned to stay present and deal with what’s in front of me.”
deborah berebichez As a teenager living in Mexico City, Deborah Berebichez internalized the message from family and teachers that “physics wasn’t an appropriate career for a young woman. But the more I tried to hide my love for physics, the more I wanted to follow my dream,” she recalls. For Berebichez, this meant leaving Mexico for the United States, where, in 2004, she became the first Mexican woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University. Since then, she has forged a uniquely multifaceted career as a scientist, television host, public speaker and educator who has dedicated her life to empowering young women interested in science careers. A 2008 winner of Oprah Winfrey’s White House Leadership Project for her video series “The Science of Everyday Life,” she loves nothing more than demystifying scientific concepts for mainstream audiences and “breaking stereotypes on what a female scientist is supposed to be.”
A native of Mexico City’s tight-knit Jewish community, Berebichez learned to speak Hebrew and Yiddish fluently and found an intellectual role model in her grandfather, an immigrant scholar who helped other Jews escape the Holocaust. Talented at acting and creative writing, she also spent hours on the roof of her home studying the stars and reading about famous scientists from an encyclopedia that her grandfather gave her. “I didn’t have science role models in life but I found them in books,” she observes. Encouraged by academic counselors to study “something more feminine,” Berebichez majored in philosophy at a private Mexican university. But after two years, she transferred to Brandeis University, where she experienced a life-changing epiphany during an introduction to astronomy class. The teaching assistant “told me I had a talent for physics and a few months later, I realized I didn’t want to die without trying to be a scientist,” she recalls.
"I’m here to With the help of the teaching assistell other women tant, who tutored her for several months, Berebichez graduated that yes, you can from Brandeis with degrees in physics and philosophy. Two be a scientist and a years later, she enrolled at Stanford, she worked in the mother and wear lab of where Nobel Prize winner Steven Chu. Though she experienced dresses and high “many obstacles as one of three heels.” women in my class, I had this inner “I went from a girl who didn’t know
photo by Bruce Press Photography
algebra to watching my dream come true,” says the New York City-based physicist, who has conducted pioneering research on wireless technology and worked on Wall Street as a quantitative analyst. “So now I’m here to tell other women that yes, you can be a scientist and a mother and wear dresses and high heels.”
Crediting her success to several academic mentors, an insatiable curiosity and an endless passion for physics, Berebichez currently juggles a jam-packed schedule as a scientist for the software company ThoughtWorks and co-host of Science Channel’s Outrageous Acts of Science. She also recently collaborated on a data science curriculum specifically designed for female students and serves as a global ambassador for the organization Technovation, which promotes technology and entrepreneurship for girls. “From a soul perspective, this is the best part of my work,” she says of her educational endeavors.
fire that wouldn’t let me quit,” she says of her perseverance.
Married to physicist Neer Asherie, Berebichez remains fiercely committed to serving as a “role model” and dreams of establishing her own foundation for girls who want to be scientists. “I strongly believe that the key to improving the world is through e d u c a t i o n ,” she says. “This is what keeps me going.” JW Magazine | jwmag.org
At age eight, Rabbi Sherre Hirsch stood in front of 600 students during a school assembly and proudly explained her observance of the Jewish holidays. “This wasn’t because I was fearless about public speaking; it was because I was comfortable in my Judaism,” she recalls. With a lifelong gift for “communicating Jewish wisdom in all kinds of public forums,” Hirsch became a rabbi who’s equally at home teaching an intimate Torah class, doing an interview on The Today Show or leading a workshop on grief as a consultant for Canyon Ranch’s spas and resorts. Particularly passionate about helping people navigate through trauma and hardship so they can lead more meaningful lives, the 46-year-old spiritual leader juggles a whirlwind career as a Los Angeles-based teacher and counselor, a media personality who appears frequently on television as a relationship and spirituality expert and an author of two books including the recently published Thresholds: How to Thrive Through Life’s Transitions to Live Fearlessly and Regret-Free.
rabbi sherre hirsch
at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) but left rabbinical school to travel through Southeast Asia. She studied meditation and other Eastern spiritual practices and “when I came home from that trip, I realized that being a rabbi was really who I was,” she recalls. Hirsch went on to receive ordination from JTS and became the first woman rabbi to serve Sinai Temple, a leading Los Angeles-based congregation. She stayed there for eight years and helped create the music-oriented Friday Night Live Shabbat service, which remains a nationally recognized model of outreach to young Jews. She also developed her uniquely accessible rabbinical style of wandering the synagogue aisles and interacting oneon-one with congregants during services because she was too short for the built-in microphone on the synagogue’s bimah.
“I have tried to do what I love, as opposed to trying to fit some mold of what a rabbi should Raised in Southern California, Hirsch also be.” “I have tried to do what I love as opposed to trying to fit some mold of what a rabbi should be,” says Hirsch, who credits her success to a talent for “working in different mediums” and inheriting a “sense of urgency” from her mother. “She always said that life wasn’t about being happy but about making a difference. This had an impact on me.”
found role models in her uncle, a Conservative rabbi, and her grandfather who, for a time, attended rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College. A cheerleader and athlete who thought she wanted to be a doctor, she would set her alarm clock extra early at “tennis camp so I could pray. Even then, my Judaism was deeply within me,” she says.
After receiving her undergraduate degree in American Culture at Northwestern University, Hirsch enrolled 14
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
“They called me ‘Rabbi Oprah,’” recalls Hirsch, who attracted the attention of television producers and began appearing as a guest on The Tyra Banks Show, PBS’s 30 Good Minutes and other programs. Married to Jeff Hirsch and the mother of Emet, 12, Eden, 10, Alia London, 8, and Levi, 5, Hirsch left Sinai Temple in 2006 because “I didn’t want to choose between my career and my children anymore,” she says of the demands she faced as a pulpit rabbi. “I knew that I was a people person and a storyteller so I forged a new career around that.” Driven to “empower other women” to create their own dream careers, Hirsch plans on writing more books and remaining “open to new directions. I’m not afraid of change,” she says. “But whatever I do, I always want to help others find whatever doorway they need to move forward with their lives.”
Long before the era of Facebook and Twitter, Allyson Kapin used technology and her gift for marketing and communications to amplify grassroots organizing. With tech, “I discovered I could immediately reach people where they are and mobilize them to take action,” she says. A pioneer in online and social media advocacy, Kapin became both an entrepreneurial success story and a prominent champion of other women pursuing technology careers. Named one of the “Most Influential Women in Tech” by Fast Company magazine, she has launched trailblazing public awareness campaigns on the environment, healthcare reform and other causes for over 100 nonprofits as the co-founder of the Washington, D.C.-based online communications agency Rad Campaign. She’s also the force behind Women Who Tech, an organization celebrating the achievements of women technologists, and is co-author of the recently published Social Change, Anytime, Everywhere. Always, she’s inspired to “shine a light and speak out” on inequality and injustice, whether that means creating the Women Startup Challenge, a new Women Who Tech venture to help fund female entrepreneurs, or petitioning the CEO of Twitter to remove a hashtag promoting domestic violence.
Born in New York and raised in Miami, Kapin traces her entrepreneurial spirit to her father, “who always ran his own businesses,” and her passion for social justice to her mother, a social worker who “empowered others, and her two sisters.” Growing up, she also witnessed the transformation of Miami Beach, where “Cuban refugees and the elderly got evicted from their homes because the entertainment and modeling industry were moving in. This was one of my first experiences with injustice,” she says.
“What I love most about my work is dreaming up solutions to problems that “I always have to believe in who or what exist.” I’m working for,” says Kapin of her success. “And when I really believe in an idea, I will do everything to make it happen.”
On any given day, the 41-year-old entrepreneur can be found developing web strategies for Rad Campaign, overseeing a Women Who Tech event, brainstorming ideas for her new startup #WomenBuilt, an online platform promoting women-created products, or appearing on television as a tech and social media expert. “What I love most about my work is dreaming up solutions to problems that exist,” she says.
As a journalism and art major at the University of Miami, Kapin gained invaluable marketing experience promoting indie bands to colleges across South Florida for Sony Music. After graduating from college and deciding to “focus on more activist-type work,” she organized a film festival for the Miami Children’s Museum and earned a master’s degree in multimedia from American University just as “online advocacy was being born. It was a really exciting time to learn about tech,” she recalls of taking classes with professors who worked at AOL. Kapin then went to work as a web editor at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, where she mastered the art of “creating and launching” online advocacy campaigns. In 2004, she and her future husband Jared Seltzer started their own web agency specializing in building websites and online campaigns for nonprofits and “we went into this knowing we needed to be passionate about every organization we took on,” she says of Rad Campaign’s early success. Committed to sharing her expertise, Kapin devotes her spare time helping women entrepreneurs access more capital for their startups as well as serving on committees for organizations such as the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN).“It’s important to give back to my community. I’m always thinking about what needs to be done,” she says. “Then I go out and find ways to do it.” JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Long before Roberta Kaplan won a landmark Supreme Court Case, she understood that as a lawyer, “you have to win people’s hearts." So when she decided to represent Edie Windsor, she “knew that her case wasn’t about abstract principles that you hear pundits debate about. It was about the life that Edie lived,” she explains. An already highly successful litigator with the New York City-based firm Paul, Weiss, Kaplan, she became a national hero of the gay rights movement after winning the landmark 2013 case United States v. Windsor in which she represented Edie Windsor pro bono. By focusing on Edith Windsor’s personal history as a lesbian and devoted spouse, she persuaded the Supreme Court that a key portion of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional and that her client deserved the same marital benefits accorded to heterosexual married couples. Her case helped lay the groundwork for the Court’s landmark ruling on June 26 that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. In October, Kaplan’s book, Then Comes Marriage, about her strategy for defeating DOMA, will be published.
emotion during the course of my career, except one – I have never experienced boredom,” she observes. Raised in Cleveland, Kaplan grew up in an actively Jewish household and found a role model in her maternal grandmother, who “had an incredible intellectual curiosity and sense of justice. She had a strong sense of Jewish values that she instilled in me,” she says. A voracious reader and ardent conversationalist, Kaplan studied Russian history and literature at Harvard University and discovered a passion for political activism when she became active in the movement to free Soviet Jewry. She volunteered with new immigrants in Boston and spent a semester abroad in Moscow, where “I hung out with refuseniks and developed the philosophical sense that religion (in my case, Judaism) can serve as a bulwark against totalitarian governments,” she says. After graduating from Harvard, Kaplan received her law degree from Columbia University and clerked for two judges. She made partner in the litigation department at Paul, Weiss in 1998, earlier than expected. Though she rose swiftly to the top of her profession, she struggled to come out “in the workplace” as a lesbian. “It was a different time and there was always this sense of, ‘am I going to say something or not?’” she recalls.
“I have experienced just about every emotion during the course of my career... except boredom.” Married to Rachel Lavine and the mother
“My sense was that I needed to tell this story so that future generations would know how we won,” says the 49-yearold attorney and Columbia University law professor. Named one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers” by the National Law Journal, Kaplan also juggles a full load of high profile corporate clients, which has included JPMorgan Chase, the Minnesota Vikings and Airbnb. Crediting her success to “a near crazy devotion to my clients and an ability to translate complex legal issues into simple understandable concepts,” she remains passionate about every aspect of her job, from writing briefs to arguing in front of judges. “I have probably experienced just about every 16
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
of nine-year-old Jacob, Kaplan devotes her spare time to serving as the co-chair of the board of directors of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and on the board of the organization Eye to Eye, which helps kids with ADHD and dyslexia. She still continues to feel “a sense of elation” over the Windsor case. Shortly after winning Edie’s case at the Supreme Court, “my family watched My Fair Lady, and afterwards my son (who was then seven) asked me if the movie was ‘old-fashioned’ because it was made before men could marry men,” she says. “That feeling makes me want to continue working for causes that I believe in.”
linda lipsen Linda Lipsen first became a “fighter” in middle school, when classmates threw pennies at her for celebrating the Jewish holidays. “This was a very anti-Semitic school and I had an innate sense that I needed to stick up for myself,” she says.
Raised in Washington, D.C., Lipsen grew up in a culturally Jewish household. She traces her political instincts to her father, who served as President Lyndon Johnson’s chief advance man, and her mother, who became the legislative director for Carl Albert, the Speaker of the House during the Watergate scandal. She also credits her success to her aunt Esther Coopersmith, a legendary political fundraiser. “I’d help her with events that brought politicians and journalists to her home which exposed me to the great conversations of the day,” she recalls.
Armed with a lifelong “dislike of bullies,” Lipsen currently fights for the legal rights of others as the CEO of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), a Washington, D.C.-based trade association dedicated to assuring that individuals get a fair shake in our nation’s court rooms when they are injured or their family members are killed due to corporate malfeasance or negligence. Since 2010, she has led the world’s largest network of trial lawyers and devoted countless hours to protecting consumers, “so that they are able to rebuild their lives when they are injured by dangerous and defective products.”
With dreams of becoming an investigative reporter, Lipsen studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin but found her real calling in policy and advocacy related work. She became director of the Congressional Clearinghouse on Women’s Rights and worked for three years to help pass legislation to protect women in the work place. “I didn’t know anything about congressional procedures at first but I was lucky to have a mom who could answer all my questions.”
individuals who need champions and a voice. She creates a collaborative environment for her 102-person staff.
strengthen supplemental insurance policies for the elderly. Always, “I have felt so lucky to walk the halls of Congress and encourage legislators to act on behalf of ordinary people,” she says.
“I feel it’s my After earning a law degree from the Antioch School of Law, Lipsen responsibility to honed her advocacy skills at Consumers Union, where she spent help other women 10 years directing the legislative “Every day, I feel like I get to program. Determined to “improve make a difference by encouraging find prominent the consumer marketplace,” she lawmakers to support a system of focused on health care reform and justice for all, not just the moneyed seats at the issues affecting the civil justice sysfew,” she says. In addition, the assotem. She successfully lobbied to ciation educates attorneys to represent table.” A highly influential lobbyist for the AAJ since 1993, Lipsen has repeatedly fought off all efforts to undermine the rights of individuals and has successfully advocated for groundbreaking congressional legislation, such as the establishment of the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund to assist the families of those killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks. She helped create the largest pro bono program for victims of terrorism. Her members represented over 3000 victims and family members, free of charge. Passionate about cultivating women’s leadership, she has also empowered female attorneys from across the country to bring the stories of their clients’ lives to Congress through “Women’s Lobby Days” events. “I feel it’s my responsibility to help other women find prominent seats at the table,” she says.
Married to Stephen Stoltz and the mother of Adam, 26, and Amanda, 22, Lipsen hopes she has exposed her children to her career in the way “my parents exposed me. And after all these years, I still feel excited by what I do,” she says, “especially when the impossible becomes possible.” JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Four years ago, Laurie Moskowitz, the veteran domestic political organizer, had only dabbled in issues of global poverty and international affairs. But when offered a job at ONE, the prominent anti-poverty advocacy organization co-founded by U2's Bono, she wholeheartedly accepted. “I’ve never been afraid to take a risk,” she says. Since then, Moskowitz has visited remote African villages “where there’s very little food and no light at night” and successfully applied her decades of expertise as a Democratic political strategist and grassroots organizer to fighting extreme poverty in Africa. As the senior director of ONE’s U.S. campaigns, the Washington, D.C.-based veteran political operative currently spends her days creating and leading complex initiatives such as recently introducing a bill in Congress to provide electricity to 50 million African citizens. With a collaborative management style, she coordinates with ONE’s other departments and partners with like-minded organizations to strategize “how the world will get to the next phase in ending poverty.”
laurie moskowitz girls’ branch of BBYO. “That’s where I learned to recruit people, plan events and manage a budget,” she says. “The whole skill set just spoke to me.” After receiving a political science degree from UC Berkeley, Moskowitz worked on environmental issues for the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group and decided to pursue a career in electoral politics after “we kept losing on issues by one or two votes. I wanted to help elect those one or two people who would pass those bills,” she recalls. Crediting her success to “good, gut political instincts” and a gift for “using numbers and technology,” Moskowitz was hired to work on Senator Carl Levin’s 1996 campaign and for the Democratic National Committee, where she served in a variety of roles and helped Al Gore win the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election. In 2001, she co-founded the pioneering political consulting agency FieldWorks, which specialized in grassroots strategies and assisted in the successful election of Democratic candidates including Janet Napolitano, who won the 2002 Arizona gubernatorial race.
“I want “I don’t think most people underto get up every stand poverty until they’ve seen it morning and do first-hand,” says Moskowitz, who has now traveled to five African good in the world. countries and feels especially inspired by her meetings with young That’s why I people. “What drives me is thinking about the children of Africa and choose to work how we’re not just providing aid but working in partnership to help them in politics.” rise to their full potential.”
Raised in Northern California, Moskowitz grew up in a Reform Jewish household with “Capital ‘D’ democratic values” and where politics were always discussed. “My family believed that you give people a hand, that not everybody is born into the same situation,” she says. Moskowitz discovered her calling as a political organizer through serving as a chapter president of the youth group BBG, the 18
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
“We were the only female grassroots folks in the business,” recalls Moskowitz of overcoming an “old boy’s network, where our competitors were all men. But having my own business also allowed me flexibility as a mother. I could bring my babies into the office.” The mother of Jake, now 13, and Sammy, 11, Moskowitz devotes her spare time to serving on the board of trustees for Green Century Funds, which promotes environmentally sustainable investing, and hosting gourmet kosher dinners with her husband Steve Rabinowitz for “Sips and Suppers,” an annual Washington, DC-based event to fight homelessness and hunger benefitting DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table. “At the end of the day, I want to get up every morning and do good in the world,” she says. “That’s why I choose to work in politics.”
When Jane Randel became a spokesperson for Liz Claiborne’s “Love Is Not Abuse” cause marketing campaign in 1995, she viewed the project as a professional challenge to “take on an issue that no one wanted to talk about.” But the more she learned about domestic violence, “it became difficult not to be personally passionate. When you meet victims and hear their stories, it’s hard not to feel outraged,” she says. Since then, Randel has devoted much of her life to spreading public awareness about domestic violence. As senior vice president of communications at Liz Claiborne (now Kate Spade & Company), she spearheaded groundbreaking family violence education and prevention programs and co-authored the influential paper “Coming into the Light: Intimate Partner Violence and Its Effects at Work.” She also co-founded the now six-year-old organization No More, which was featured in the first ever Super Bowl commercial about domestic violence as part of its mission to eradicate the stigma surrounding intimate partner crime and sexual assault. And last year, Randel became one of four experts hired to consult for the NFL after the league faced a national uproar after video was released showing player Ray Rice punching his fiancée in an elevator.
other companies and organizations as an independent “social responsibility” consultant. Constantly fielding emails and setting up meetings, “I’m always looking to make connections to help advance these causes,” she says. Raised on New York’s Long Island, Randel grew up in a culturally Jewish home and found a role model in her mother, a travel agent who walked the neighborhood to collect money for UNICEF. “I always had this notion of wanting to give back and make a difference,” she says of volunteering in her teens as a candy striper and tutor and with the organization New York Cares, where she ran a Secret Santa program and discovered her strengths lay in “organizing and strategizing.”
“There’s still a stigma around [domestic violence] the way there used to be a stigma around cancer... I’m trying to normalize After graduating from Wesleyan University with a degree in East “What drives me is trying to get the conversation Asian Studies, Randel “fell into” a these issues the attention and platcareer in public relations after taking a forms that they need,” the 48-year-old about it.” activist observes about her work giving presentations to NFL players or educating other companies about domestic violence. “There’s still a stigma around these issues the way there used to be a stigma around cancer and what I’m trying to do is normalize the conversation about it.” Crediting her success to a collaborative working style and “an ability to bring disparate groups of people together,” Randel continues to work with the NFL while assisting
writing test. “I realized that I had already written press releases and promoted causes,” she says of her experience in college with working on a campaign to raise awareness about MS.
Randel was hired as a publicist at Liz Claiborne and swiftly rose through the ranks of the women’s apparel company, where she specialized in corporate communications and crisis management. She stayed with the company for 22 years and the opportunity to lead the domestic violence public awareness campaign “gave me an outlet to do something extremely fulfilling and gratifying,” she observes. Married to Charles Kliment and the mother of a 14-yearold son and 12-year-old twin boys, Randel recently has been working to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and never rests on her laurels. “Anytime I get somewhere, I’m always asking myself ‘what’s next?’” she says. “I’m always thinking about what hasn’t been done yet.” JW Magazine | jwmag.org
When Paula Shoyer tried to sell her first cookbook, she “was told ‘no’ by every major publishing company. But I was doing something I loved so I just kept going,” she recalls. Determined to succeed, Shoyer persisted in finding a publisher for The Kosher Baker, which featured over 160 non-dairy dessert recipes and became a staple of countless kosher households. Since then, the now 50-yearold former attorney, turned French pastry chef and kosher culinary innovator, has published two more cookbooks including this year’s The New Passover Menu. She has appeared on the Food Network’s Sweet Genius and other television shows and has “schlepped” cooking equipment across North America to share her passion for baking through classes and demonstrations.
Though she always loved desserts, Shoyer found her calling as a pastry maven “by accident.” Briefly a pre-med major at Brandeis University, she earned a degree in politics, attended law school at American University and worked for several years in environmental and insurance litigation in Washington, D.C. “Being a lawyer was helpful for my future career because it taught me what my strengths are and when I needed to hire experts to assist me,” she observes. While living in Geneva, Switzerland, where her husband had a diplomatic posting, Shoyer initially worked parttime as a legal advisor for the organization UN Watch. Then, deciding to take advantage of living in Europe, she enrolled at the École Ritz Escoffier cooking school in Paris. She trained as a pastry chef “for fun,” but when she returned to Geneva, “I wound up with a catering business,” she says of baking cakes for people’s dinner parties and teaching cooking classes organized by a local synagogue.
“I’m always open to different directions and I’m blessed with an incredible amount of energy.”
“I call what I’m doing a revolution because I’m getting both kosher restaurants and home chefs to rethink their desserts,” says Shoyer, who recognized “a gap” in the kosher culinary world. “I saw how you could now eat these spectacular meals in kosher restaurants but then you get to dessert and it’s the same chocolate molten cake.”
Inspired by her travels in Europe and Asia, Shoyer spends her days inventing recipes, penning articles as a prolific freelance writer, consulting for food companies and developing her new line of frozen babkas. “I’m always open to different directions and I’m blessed with an incredible amount of energy,” she says of her success. Raised in Long Beach, N.Y., Shoyer grew up in an Orthodox Jewish community and loved visiting her grandmother in Brooklyn, who created “from memory an amazing sponge cake, brownies, rugelach and rice pudding. I’d watch her bake and taste things,” she recalls. 20
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
When Shoyer returned to the United States, she also discovered she had a gift for writing when kosher chef Susie Fishbein hired her as a cookbook editor. “Doing those books for Susie made me realize that I had all these recipes for my own book,” she says. “It was a wake-up call.”
Married to Andy Shoyer and the mother of Emily, 20, Sam, 18, and 15-year-old twins, Jake and Joey, Shoyer feels gratified that “all my children know how to cook and bake and I think they’ve enjoyed watching me create something from nothing.” She also makes it a priority to mentor young aspiring chefs who want to break into the food business and remains devoted to her core audience. “Nothing is as fun as standing in front of a 100 women at a synagogue sharing inspirational stories about food,” she says. “It’s what I’m meant to be doing.”
lynn morgan Sondra D. Bender community leadership honoree When Lynn Morgan worked for the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, she learned a valuable lesson about community leadership. Tasked with convincing companies booking conferences at the famous hotel to purchase “a deli lunch that was $50 a person, I learned that if you really believe in your product, then the work isn’t hard or scary,” she says. Today, the 48-year-old Potomac, Md.-based activist and philanthropist is “never afraid to solicit for organizations that I personally support.” Tirelessly devoted to Jewish continuity and strengthening her community, Morgan has served in multiple leadership roles for a number of local institutions including the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS), The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, where she recently served as Vice President of Women’s Philanthropy, and the Washington D.C. chapters of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the youth movement BBYO. An expert fundraiser, she also has a gift for creating community-building events such as CESJDS’ “Celebrity Scoop Night,” now in its ninth year, where the school’s teachers have raised thousands of dollars from selling ice cream at a local Baskin-Robbins.
ington, D.C. council. Always, “I want to feel I’m doing something for my children’s future and to ensure that the Jewish people will continue to thrive,” she says of all her endeavors, which have included participating in Federation missions to Israel, Berlin and Cuba “to see our dollars at work.” Born in Florida and raised in Purchase, N.Y., Morgan celebrated her bat mitzvah on top of Masada, participated in the youth groups USY and NFTY and found philanthropic role models in her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother, all of whom played active roles in their local Jewish Federations. “I have many memories of women sitting around our dining room table discussing how to help other people,” she says of the meetings her mother organized. Determined to succeed in the hotel industry, Morgan worked multiple service jobs in high school and received a degree in hotel administration from Cornell University. She then led a decade-long career in hotel sales and management, including a stint at the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau. “What I learned in this world translates so well to my volunteer work,” she says of her desire “to please others and exceed expectations.”
“I love getting people involved at the grassroots level because I believe you can have the greatest impact from The mother of Natalie, 16, Daniel, participating 14, and Kate, 10, Morgan feels gratified that her children participate in vollocally.” unteer events such as CESJDS’ “Families
“I love getting people involved at the grassroots level because I believe that you can have the greatest impact on an organization from participating locally,” observes Morgan, who’s the 2015 recipient of JWI’s Sondra D. Bender Community Leadership Award. Currently, Morgan juggles her responsibilities as co-owner of Morgan Language Services, a firm specializing in translation work, with serving as an event chair for CESJDS and board member of her local Federation and BBYO council. She and her husband Randy Morgan, whom she calls her “greatest cheerleader,” also belong to AIPAC’s Congressional Club so they can “directly back political candidates that support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship” and serve as synagogue outreach chairs for AIPAC’s Wash-
in Action Day,” continuing a strong tradition of giving and volunteerism that they have inherited from both sides of the family. Morgan hopes that she has been a good role model for how her kids can behave as adults. “Volunteering helps me feel that I’m making the world a better place,” she says. “And now my kids are old enough to have opportunities where they can step up to the plate.” JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Celebrate life's important events with an exquisite treasure...
CALL 215-885-2930 or visit www.joystember.com to order now Specializing in handmade contemporary Judaica individualized for momentous occasions
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Look a little deeper and you may find that hanging a mezuzah can help you build a more meaningful life. BY RABBI REBECCA EINSTEIN SCHORR
ffixed to the upper third of the right side of a door post of the Jewish home is a rectangular box, containing ancient words and contemporary meaning. It is the mezuzah. And you shall inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:9) â€œThemâ€? is understood to mean these words. This particular section of the Torah. But how is one meant to observe the mitzvah? Did God truly intend for us to grab a Sharpie and scrawl the words on our actual doorposts? JW Magazine | jwmag.org
One of the most daunting tasks facing our sages was to take the commandments and make them livable. God told us to write the words on our doorposts. What is the most effective way to fulfill both the letter and, whenever possible, the spirit of the law? Clearly we weren’t meant to literally write the words on a doorpost. Rather, the rabbis determined that a specific section of the Torah is to Aluminum be written on klaf (parchment) by a sofer (scribe) and RAINBOW encased in a container. The name of this ritual object? MEZUZAH ($75 small, $90 large) Mezuzah. Which means “doorpost.” Not the most by Caesarea Arts, creative name, but a practical name for the entity caesarea-arts.com that would fulfill this divine commandment. From there, over the ages, rabbinic authorities developed strict ordinances concerning every aspect of the mezuzah ranging from how long one may dwell in a residence before affixing one, to the precise location and angle on the doorpost, to who is permitted to do the actual hanging. The mitzvah of the mezuzah is incumPewter SONGBIRD bent on both men and women, single MEZUZAH ($40) by and married, and, interestingly, is Emily Rosenfeld, one of the few that can be observed emilyrosenfeld.com even while we are sleeping. While for many this seems like the minutiae of authoritarian minds, the detail with which the rabbis devoted to PEARL AMETHYST carving out the practical application MEZUZAH ($105) by of this one commandment ought Michal Golan Jewelry, michalgolan.com to draw our attention to its import. Much like when the professor writes a definition on the board and follows it with a bunch of details, you just know it’s going to show up on the exam. As part of the premarital counseling that I do, I always ask couples to describe their future Jewish home. Some couples will mention ritual objects such as Shabbos candlesticks or a chanukiah. Others focus on the CERAMIC TURQUOISE rituals themselves: Passover Seders, Chanukah GEOMETRIC MEZUZAH ($62) gatherings, Shabbat dinners. While the answers by Studio Armadillo, vary widely, without fail, every couple remarks that etsy.com/shop/StudioArmadillo a mezuzah will absolutely be on the door. What does that say about this object that no matter the affiliation or observance level, Jews see the mezuzah as an important part of their Jewish identity? That no matter their ritual behaviors or level of Jewish education, the hanging of the mezuzah is so ingrained into people’s consciousness that they couldn’t imagine their home without one? 24
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
For some, I imagine, this is a holdover from their youth. Either through explicit direction or implicit observation, many feel that a Jewish home, regardless of what, if anything, is practiced inside the home, must have a mezuzah. In other words: “It’s just what Jews do.” Additionally, there are those who believe that it acts as an amulet, providing some divine protection over the house and its inhabitants. While the commandment, in its entirety, does state that those who adhere to the commandment of putting up “SEASONS” MEZUZAH ($61) a mezuzah will be granted long life, rabbinic authorin pastel green and silver/ ities are quick to point out that this ought not be pewter (other colors available), the motivation for observing this mitzvah. questcollectiononline.com So what makes a home Jewish? Is it simply a dwelling place where at least one occupant is of Jewish background?
RED & WHITE GLAZED CERAMIC MEZUZAH ($35) by Vered Israel-Bloom, etsy.com/shop/VIBart
Is it a dwelling place where the occupants observe some, if not all, of the Jewish holidays? Or is it, or rather should it be, something more? And if so, how do we make these decisions with intention?
Coated nickel silver “HAMSA” MEZUZAH ($95) signed by Israeli artist Shirley Lev, shirleylev.com
HELLO KITTY MEZUZAH ($35) by JewDads, ModernTribe.com
With the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash (the Temple) in 70 CE, the Jewish home has long been held up as its spiritual successor. The prophet Ezekiel (11:16) reassured the exiled Israelites that God will accompany them on their journey and will be to them a mikdash me’at – a small sanctuary. According to the Talmud (Megillah 29a), this is the text that establishes the synagogue as the central sanctuary for the community and is expanded to include the home as the focal point for a family’s spiritual life.
But what does that really mean? How do we turn our houses into small sanctuaries? Merriam-Webster defines “sanctuary” as a consecrated place. It also understands the word to mean a place of refuge and protection. A safe place. A haven. What needs to happen to make our homes places of refuge and protection?
Twenty-first century life is noisier, more frenetic, and busier than ever. And there is no sign of things slowing down. Social media and communication technology have lured us into believing that we must be available 24/7 and that multitasking is a skill not just to be JW Magazine | jwmag.org
May the door of this home be wide enough to receive those who hunger for love or are lonely for friendship. May it welcome those who have cares to unburden, thanks to express, hopes to nurture. May this door be too high to admit complacency, selfishness, and harshness. May its threshold be no stumbling block to young feet. And may this be the doorway to a rich and meaningful life. Excerpted from "Blessings for a New Home," originally published on ritualwell.org 26
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
acquired but mastered. Unfortunately, this constant barrage, as well as unrealistic expectations, often come home from the office with us and straight into our safe space. When we are stressed or frustrated about the events of the day, it is all too easy to take it out on those around us. We are shorttempered. We speak without thinking. We take it out on ourselves. We replay negative messages that erode our sense of self-worth. We don’t take the time to properly nourish our bodies and souls – or our relationships. If our Jewish home is meant to be a sanctuary, then we must be compelled to treat others and ourselves accordingly. Shalom Bayit isn’t simply the absence of conflict in the home. Shalom Bayit demands that we are respectful of others and of ourselves, in our words and in our actions. It isn’t merely a peaceful house; it is a home of wholeness. A place where we try to refrain from snippy responses. Where we turn off screens and push the outer world away. And where we free ourselves from distractions so that we not just hear but truly listen to the other members of the household. It’s where we honor imperfect selves who were created in God’s perfect image. Maimonides saw the mezuzah as a point of demarcation. It establishes the threshold as having divine potential. Gazing upon the mezuzah, then, becomes an active rather than a passive action. Its intention is to remind us of our obligations to others, to ourselves, and to God. Though Maimonides understood the mezuzah as a reminder of God’s expectations of us not only within the home but when we go out into the world, it can operate powerfully as the visual cue before we enter our home to leave the detritus of the day beyond the threshold. Thus, the mezuzah can become a portal between the harsh realities of the
public sphere and the sacred space of the private. In her bestselling book, The LifeChanging Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo suggests greeting one’s house upon arrival. She was inspired to create a momentary ritual after realizing that “the tense expectancy in the air… resembles the atmosphere when one passes under a shrine gate and enters the sacred precincts.” A sacred precinct. In other words, a small sanctuary. The mezuzah can be a gateway to the sacred precinct – the small sanctuary – that is our home. Gazing at the mezuzah can be a visual prompt to end a cell phone conversation before entering the house, so we can greet family members, partners or roommates. Others might choose to follow the custom of touching the mezuzah upon entering. Whatever feels most comfortable, taking a few moments before crossing the threshold allows us to return to the shelter of our home with the right mindset. The mezuzah is meant to serve as a reminder of the covenant. It functions as an outward sign that this home operates by a specific set of standards that oversee and guide the ritual, practical, and social behavior of its inhabitants. It isn’t enough to simply affix the mezuzah to the door. While that fulfills the initial commandment, there is intention inherent in the symbol. It is meant to be an ongoing reminder. To ourselves. To the others who may reside alongside us. And to those whom we welcome into our mikdash me’at – our sanctuary. Rabbi and stay-at-home mom Rebecca Einstein Schorr is a CLAL Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, a contributing writer at Kveller.com, and can also be found at rebeccaeinsteinschorr.com and on Twitter @rebeccaschorr.
From your first day on the job and throughout your career, a lack of confidence can hold you back from becoming the incredible woman you're meant to be. BY GALIT BREEN
adine Epstein, editor-in-chief of Moment magazine, is in the habit of asking thinkers for their opinions.
For the magazine’s live and print symposiums, her editors regularly reach out to prominent experts, men and women. Yet, Epstein reports, “Women say ‘no’ ten times more often than men. They usually say they don’t know enough about the topic or don’t feel comfortable talking about the issue – even though we’ve identified them as experts.” Men, however, are different. JW Magazine | jwmag.org
“Men almost never, and let me say NEVER, turn down an opportunity to give their opinion,.” Epstein adds. They will say things like, “Well, I don’t know if I’ve thought about that, but let me tell you what I think.” “There is an incredible confidence difference,” Epstein observes. “Women somehow feel that no matter how much they know, they don’t know enough. And they’re not comfortable going to the line, when men are – they are just trained that way.” If you recognize yourself in Epstein’s words, you are not alone. Many of us, whether we have a lengthy track record of success or are starting to build our career, struggle to feel confident. And this lack of confidence can keep us from pursuing opportunities, impede our ability to manage others, prevent us from asking for raises, and generally hold us back from becoming the women we are capable of becoming. But, as I learned when I explored this issue, a lack of confidence doesn’t have to be our destiny. A few years ago, Washington, D.C. journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman set out to find out why so many women sound less sure of themselves when they know they’re right than men sound when they could be wrong. The outcome of their research, The Confidence Code, published last year, is a science-based tell-all about the habit of confidence – and lack thereof.
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
In the book, Kay and Shipman share countless examples of successful women whose internal self-doubt is manifested in their actions. “We see it everywhere,” they write, “bright women with ideas to contribute who don’t raise their hands in meetings. Passionate women who would make excellent leaders, but don’t feel comfortable asking for votes or raising campaign money. Conscientious mothers who’d rather someone else become president of the PTA while they work behind the scenes.” This lack of confidence translates into lost income and has dramatic consequences for women’s lifelong financial well-being. When negotiating salaries, a man is likely to speak up and demand more than offered, while a woman, who is being offered the same position, will simply say “thank you” to the first offer given. “Understanding that salaries build one on top of the other, where you start very much translates to where you’ll finish,” says Lori Weinstein, CEO of Jewish Women International (JWI). “This means even a few thousand dollar salary differential in the beginning of a woman’s career can become $500,000 to $1,000,000 of income lost over her lifetime. This is something we emphasize to the young women we teach in our Life$avings® financial literacy workshops – we must have the confidence to know our worth and ask for and negotiate the salaries we deserve.”
“Men would confidently raise their Haley Lerner, a sophomore hands during the middle of the business, he told me to make my own decisions and to own at Emory University who professor’s lecture to ask a question, them. worked as an intern for JWI, saw young womor would even call out when they In not making decisions en’s diffidence come into weren’t given the attention they thought independently, but rather play in a class early in waiting for a confirmation her freshman year, “Men they deserved. However, women would of rightness, we show that would confidently raise often sheepishly raise their hands our leadership is precarious. If their hands during the midwe can’t be confident about our dle of the professor’s lecture and begin the own decisions and leadership, to ask a question, or would even question with, why would anyone else be? call out when they weren’t given the attention they thought they deserved. However, women would often sheepishly raise their hands and begin the question with ‘Sorry but…’ or ‘Wait sorry…’ or ‘Sorry I missed that…’ or ‘Sorry can you repeat that?’ or ‘Sorry I just have a question…’” As Kim Osborne, a manager at Golin, a D.C.-based public relations firm, told Lerner and others attending JWI’s Summer Series of workshops for college interns, “Don’t be embarrassed to speak up for yourself – even if it’s just to ask for further clarification from a superior. Our generation was taught to be polite and respect our elders; however to succeed as a young female professional, you can’t apologize for making your voice heard in an environment where it is sometimes uncomfortable to do so."
Kay and Shipman show how having the confidence to speak up and trust one’s instincts is pivotal in women’s growth as managers. They relate the story of Vanessa, a manager whose supervisor advised, “It doesn’t matter if what you say is right, your team just needs to know you can make a call and stick to it.” These words struck an uncomfortable chord with me. I recently needed to give negative feedback to a team member. Before doing so, I messaged my own boss for confirmation that my hard-earned, gut-instinct feedback was okay to give. While awaiting the go-ahead from my boss, I complained to my husband that I felt stuck. His response was eye-opening. Without knowing anything about the situation or the
OWNING UP TO SELF-DOUBT Yet, even as women struggle to become confident, they are often reluctant to openly discuss their struggles with self-doubt. I learned this when I reached out to successful women about what their experiences with showing confidence, or not, had been. They didn’t want to talk about it and wanted to couch every negative as a positive. It turns out that a lack of confidence isn’t something that most successful people want on their resumes. Epstein disagrees with this attitude. “I wish that more women would mentor women on this,” she says. “I wish someone had explained this to me when I was much younger so that I didn’t have to figure it out for myself over so many failed conversations.” She believes that women aren’t open about talking about confidence as a problem because we first have to acknowledge that there is a problem. “We all think it’s ourselves,” Epstein says. “I thought I was just born inarticulate – that I just wasn’t going to be heard, even though I come from an educated family and went to great colleges and universities. I was almost invisible. I thought it was my own doing and that there was something wrong with me.” Finally, she says, she was able to get beyond that, “To know it’s not me. To acknowledge that is the first step. Then you have to decide to do something about it, to compensate for your own feelings of insufficiency and learn how to compensate in the world.”
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Debra Eckerling, a life coach and the founder and owner of Guided Goals in California, explains that many people feel a lack of confidence is a sign of weakness. Women especially have the perception that to succeed we need to deceive others and create the perception that the normal path that everyone follows of shaken confidence, which often leads to insight, growth, and, you guessed it, strength, isn’t one we’ve traveled on. “We attempt to always put our best foot forward in order to come from a position of strength," Eckerling says. But this (often subconscious) plan backfires. PLAYING – AND REPLAYING – OLD TAPES Memories are “a huge player in confidence,” Kay and Shipman note, because they affect brain plasticity. The interplay between past and present is unconscious, yet it’s very much a key player in our behavior. “The way we interact with our environment is based on a preconception of what the world will do to us, which is based on memories of past experiences,” they add. “We play and replay that tape in our heads.” And in that playing, we cement our habits of a lack of confidence, both felt and shown. The way to change these tapes is to discuss them. When women share their shaken confidence stories, they usually find others who have experienced the same. And in this retrospective talk, they can make a conscious choice to reassign these stories as situational rather than as the road maps they can so easily and unconsciously become. Eckerling has helped many clients address, discuss, and discard the impact of these memories. As Kay and Shipman write: “Cognitive therapy is a conscious focus on creating changes in our brains.” Jena Schwartz, a writing group facilitator in Massachusetts, tells of a time in graduate school when a professor told her to “shut up.” While Schwartz doesn’t remember the details of what she had been saying, she does remember exactly how she felt: stunned, shamed, and silenced. She also clearly recalls the impact of these feelings. “I barely spoke between 6:30 and 9:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the remainder of the semester,” she says. And, importantly, she notes how deliberate she had to be to change this. “It would take many years of practice before I fully trusted my voice again in professional settings, particularly with authority figures or others I feared might deem my presence as ‘too much,’” Schwartz says. HABITS CAN CHANGE The way we show a lack of confidence, whether in choosing to not speak up in meetings, ask for raises, or claim
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Taking steps to build confidence isn’t the proverbial rocket science. There are simple ways to break habits that hold us back and create newer, better ones. Here are five confidence habits we can begin today.
Be willing to fail – to be wrong Risk-taking is a habit of confidence. Be willing to put yourself, your ideas, and your work out there – even if this means potentially failing. If Amy Scher had waited for a risk-free opportunity, she’d still be waiting instead of heading up her own company today.
Push yourself, be tough on yourself, then restart quickly Positive self-criticism is a habit of confident people. They assess their shortcomings and failed attempts analytically. They hold themselves to high standards and, in cases when things don’t go how they’d like – rejection, failure, missed opportunities – they figure out what went wrong and what they can do better. Then they do better. Looking back, Schwartz knows that her professor’s cruel words were more about her professor than her. In the same situation today, she would speak up and ask her professor to not speak to her that way, then move on from the “feedback” that she was talking too much, and continue to speak up in class.
Rely on what you’ve already achieved to give yourself a confidence boost It’s not luck – it’s your hard work behind your success. Owning your successes is a habit of confidence. Shrugging off success as due to luck or chance doesn’t serve us. Ciaran Blumenfeld can see very clearly today that the quality of her work is what led to her success. She claims these successes as her own and if a deal isn’t landed, she knows it wasn’t about her, but because it wasn’t a good fit.
Recognize over-preparing for what it is: An assumption that you don’t have the expertise Speaking about your work with authority is a habit of confidence. You are the expert of your own work. Distill your story to its key messages and practice telling it. But once you’ve done this, stop practicing. Your goal isn’t to be infallible with your speaking points, because this isn’t possible. Your simple, very attainable goal is to tell your story because you’re the only one who can tell it. Once you decide to own this truth, then you can move beyond memorized points to become an expert sharing what you know to be true. You can’t plan for every question that may come up, but if you speak from a place of expertise, you’ll be able to handle whatever arises.
Find supportive people “It’s important for people to know that there are other people out there who are rooting for them,” says life coach Debra Eckerling. “You just need one person to believe in you to spark that confidence.” If you don’t feel like you have supportive people built into your life, then go find them, she says, adding, “I don’t think you need to go too far to find your people.”
Ask “Why not me?” Asking (the right version of ) Why not me? is a habit of confidence. In his article, “The One Question Every Successful Person Asks,” writer Jeff Haden contends that changing the emphasis in this question from me to not is essential. A confident person looks at other peoples’ successes and asks Why not me? – as in, I could do that, too. People who lack confidence looks at that same success and wonder why it isn’t theirs. Arianna Huffington has been quoted as saying, “Believe that everything is rigged in your favor.” This mantra is a brilliant confidence tool.
Code confidence Kay and Shipman write: “Confidence is the purity of action produced by a mind free of doubt.” A woman who has “a mind free of doubt” doesn’t believe she’ll never fail. She simply embraces failure as part of the process. This subtle shift allows for the right self-talk, the right questions, and the right actions. It’s in this way that women can use their confidence as a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block. Why not me, and why not you.
opportunities, is not unconscious or ingrained. When we regard our behaviors as habits rather than forgone conclusions, we can reframe our stories and change how we are. Ciaran Blumenfeld, the founder of the California marketing analysis company, Hashtracking, knows this first-hand. When she first launched her business, she felt intimidated at events and client meetings because her perception at the time was that she’d be judged on her appearance. Sometimes, this even led to moments of panic before interacting with prospective clients. Blumenfeld took the conscious steps to note what really led to her success. She says, “The quality of my content and my product was what made all the difference – who spoke to me, whether I got invited back, whether I made deals for my company.” It took intentional thought to move from panic attacks about clothes to refocusing on her job performance. Now, she says wryly, “I know that nobody is picking me apart like I'm on the red carpet.” LEARN HOW TO USE SELF-TALK When self-talk includes wondering if you know enough about a topic to have an opinion, and not wanting to be wrong, then felt and shown confidence will be precarious at best and willingness to speak up and grasp at opportunities will mirror this. Eckerling sees this in her clients all the time. Using affirmation philosophy, she helps women practice getting into the habit of believing in themselves. “You need to be confident enough about what you’re doing that you can speak with authority on it,” she says. The idea is that once you get into the habit of instinctively doing this, your felt and shown confidence will be apparent. Amy B. Scher, an energy therapist in California, tells of when she was forced to make a career change because of budget cutbacks at the company where she worked. While it was still a choice to stay put, she talked herself out of making the leap. “I found so many reasons why everything was too risky,” she explains. “ Not enough money, a lack of support, others would judge me. These were just justifications to say ‘no‘ to following my heart.” In retrospect, Scher sees this clearly, but at the time her lack of confidence held her back from pursuing what would turn out to be a very lucrative and successful career change. “When my life shifted so dramatically and I lost my job, I could no longer say ’no‘ to myself, and for me, that was exactly what I needed," Scher says.
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
EVEN GREAT WOMEN WRESTLE WITH BEING HEARD Epstein recalls a recent interview she had with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “She said that it’s really important for women to put themselves out there, make themselves speak out and train themselves to speak out. It’s the only way women will be able to play a larger role in shaping society.” The Justice told Epstein a story about her first year at Columbia Law School. Journalist Anthony Lewis, a classmate, spoke up all the time. “Her response was, ‘I don’t belong here,’” recalls Epstein. “She had to train herself to feel like she belonged there and speak up. I took that to heart. Her words helped me the next time I had to stand up and give my opinion. I thought about it, so I could stand up and be more courageous.” Ginsburg shared with Epstein that she felt she was not heard when she was a law professor at Columbia and even when she initially joined the high court. “Women have to compensate,” says Epstein. “We have to change the tone of our voice—take out the questioning at the end of our statements. We have to not be afraid to make ourselves heard. Confidence is how our ideas are heard.” Galit Breen is a Minnesota-based freelance writer whose articles have been featured in such online magazines as The Huffington Post, TIME, Child and xoJane. Her book, Kindness Wins, was published earlier this year. Learn more about her at TheseLittleWaves.com.
Nadine Epstein with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Don't miss the latest books by five of JWI's 2015 Women to Watch honorees! ROBERTA KAPLAN
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Women are choosing underthings to please themselves. Isnâ€™t it about time? BY RACHEL DELIA BENAIM
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
The iconic lingerie store, known for its sexy models and annual fashion show, wasn’t a viable option for Cohen, but she didn’t want to resort to “granny bras” and through the years has had more than her share of illfitting “hot” bras. “ So when the 25-year-old bride-to-be began the quest of finding the perfect shapewear to don beneath her prin-
cess-cut wedding dress, she knew she had her work cut out for her. “On my wedding day, I just want something that’s going to make me feel good and comfortable, and also make me feel hot!” Cohen exclaims. “Is that so much to ask?” Cohen is one of many women reclaiming their lingerie. This is not about what men want to see, but about what makes us feel sexy, comfortable, and confident. Screw the patriarchy, right? Women’s undergarments have changed significantly over the last century – from corsets to bandeaus and everything in between. Our breasts have felt it all. Just imagine being a D cup during the flapper era when fashion dictated that women bind their boobs. That would’ve been horrible.
Ariela Weinbach shows a bra to a customer at Forty Winks in Cambridge, Mass.
“Often when I help people, their posture and facial expression totally change when they find the right bra. They’re standing tall and proud of their body." 34
-Ariela Weinbach, Forty Winks
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Victoria’s Secret is definitely the queen of the bra and lingerie worlds. Leslie “Les” Wexner (who also founded The Wexner Foundation to further Jewish leadership) and his company L Brands own the three bra labels – Victoria’s Secret, Pink, and La Senza – that together make up 41% of America’s $13.2 billion lingerie market. The next closest competitor only has a 1% market share. Victoria’s Secret carries sizes between AA-DD and, while it claims to carry bands sized 30-40, many bra styles do not come larger than a 36 band size. Although no specific studies have been done about the bra sizes of Ashkenzi Jewish women, Ariela Weinbach, the floor manager at Forty Winks, a woman-owned lingerie boutique in Cambridge, Mass., has drawn her own conclusions. “It seems that a lot of women of Eastern European descent have difficulty finding bra sizes since they tend to have small rib cages and large cup sizes. A lot of my clients are 30/32 F and up,” she notes. Weinbach, 28, who has fitted bras for three years, appreciates her employer's emphasis on creating a "body positive" environment for customers, regardless of their bra size. On top of this (no pun intended), according to the 2013 study by lingerie retailer Intimacy, the average American bra size has increased over the last 30 years – from a 34B to a 34DD. So what are women like Cohen and her Ashkenazi friends (not to mention many other women) to do when Victoria won’t be their friend? How are they supposed to feel sexy and confident if they can’t find anything that fits them well? Luckily for them, bra styles are becoming more versatile and serve women of all shapes and sizes. There
photo by Malktime Photography
t age 16, Danielle Cohen** wanted to fit into the same types of bras as her friends, even though she wore a size 32G and a size 6 dress. “I started off being in denial about my bra size,” she says. “I would shop at Victoria’s Secret and my boobs would literally hang out.”
are individual stores like Weinbach’s employer, Forty Winks, and New York City’s Town Shop, the 120-yearold lingerie retailer on Manhattan’s West Side. And there are also innovative manufacturers. You’d have to have been living in a cave not to have heard the story of how Sara Blakely created Spanx, but even her popular brand of shapewear does not yet offer bras in cup sizes beyond DDD. After some research, Cohen decided that a corset might be her best bet. “It’s supposed to suck everything in and push everything up in a flattering way,” she said.
Maidenform Collection, 1922-1997, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Though generally regarded as a remnant of the past, evoking nostalgia for the Victorian Era, corsets have been creeping back into modern fashion trends. Not surprising, since over the decades, women have made different, often radical choices when it came to their lingerie, says historian Dr. Einav Rabinovitch-Fox, who has studied feminism and the politics of women’s fashion. In the early 20th century styles swung from the shapely Gibson Girl, a symbol of the new woman who was often contrasted to the Victorian matron, to the straight-lined flapper look of the 1920s, and then back to feminine looks after WWII.
During the emancipated '60s, feminists attacked and often eschewed bras and corsets, claiming them to be oppressive and a manifestation of male attempts to control their bodies. Yet a few years later, when marketing strategists suggested that wearing undergarments was a woman’s choice, attitudes again shifted. The lingerie industry reawakened the devotion of their audience by presenting lingerie not as a necessity, but as an accessory,”
explains Dr. Nancy Workman, in her essay “From Victorian to Victoria’s Secret: The Foundations of Modern Erotic Wear.” American artist Laura Ann Jacobs has created a provocative series of sculpted undergarments that challenge the traditional roles of women. Her work often portrays the role of lingerie as confining, tightly wrapping, trapping and contorting a woman's natural body into the shape men or society
Maidenform’s groundbreaking “I dreamed of” ads ran in the 1950s and ‘60s. It was “one of the most celebrated, successful, and (briefly) scandalous ad campaigns in marketing history,” writes David Laskin, a relative of Maidenform founder Ida Cohen Rosenthal, in his 2013 book, The Family. “Prudes tutted that the ads were obscene, but American women – amused, flattered, defiant, newly assertive, flush with cash, and hip to Freudian suggestiveness – voted with their pocketbooks.”
Maidenform, the lingerie company co-founded in 1922 by immigrant dressmaker Ida Cohen Rosenthal, challenged the fashion notion that women needed to be bound in. Instead of encouraging women to bind their breasts in order to wear the boxy styles of the flapper era, Cohen Rosenthal and her husband developed a design that accentuated women’s natural shape and became a forerunner of current brassieres. JW Magazine | jwmag.org
5 Shapewear Heroes IDA COHEN ROSENTHAL “Why fight nature?” dressmaker Ida Cohen Rosenthal asked when women of the Flapper era adopted the practice of wrapping their bosom to achieve a flat-chested look. Rosenthal, her husband William, and partner Enid Bisset, worked together to give women another option. Enid created a brassiere for a fuller figure and William improved upon her design, creating brassieres for different sizes and ultimately devising standard cup sizes. Demand grew and Ida embraced the possibilities. She became the management and marketing genius behind Maidenform, with William supplying creative designs. (source: jwa.org)
HINDA MILLER When this Vermont-based clothing designer took up running to stay in shape she saw the need for a garment that would provide friction-free breast support. In 1977, she and two friends joined forces to design the Jogbra, a bra that empowered women by making their sports participation more comfortable. Timing couldn’t have been better, since in 1972 Title IX began to break down barriers for women and girls in sports. A version of the original Jogbra is on display at the Smithsonian. (source: faqs.org)
GALE EPSTEIN In 1977, Gale Epstein created a pair of handmade panties for her friend Lida Orzeck out of embroidered handkerchiefs, inspiring the women to launch Hanky Panky, a company where pretty and comfortable are not mutually exclusive. A breakthrough moment came in in 1986, when Hanky Panky introduced the 4811, what it called "The World’s Most Comfortable Thong®," for women of all shapes, sizes and ages. (source: hankypanky.com)
SARA BLAKELY The story is now an industry legend, about how Sara Blakely cut the feet off a pair of panty hose to create an invisible garment to wear underneath a pair of white pants. That moment of inspiration ultimately gave birth to her company, Spanx, which today offers an array of problem-solving products for every body type and budget. The Spanx brand now houses over 200 products ranging from slimming apparel and swimsuits, to bras, active-wear and men’s undershirts. (source: spanx.com)
SOPHIA BERMAN Though their company Trusst Lingerie is very young, we applaud the creativity of its Carnegie Mellon-trained co-founders, industrial designers Sophia Berman and her colleague Laura West. Taking a cue from the way engineers design bridges and buildings, they have developed a new bra design that they say is a more comfortable and effective option for largebusted women because it supports 80% of breast weight from underneath. This means no more backaches, no more straps digging into tender shoulders and no more pokes from underwire. (source: trusstlingerie.com)
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
has come to prefer. Jacobs still wears and enjoys lingerie, and she hopes her art will challenge people to think about women’s bodies and how patriarchal attitudes keep even self-reliant, independent women locked into gender roles. “My work merely pokes fun at the lengths we women go to please and attract,” she says. “Something that seems to be very liberating at one point can be very oppressive at another,” Rabinovitch-Fox says. “That’s the complexity [of modern feminism] – we can’t say one thing is oppressive and another liberating.” The corset embodies that paradox. While no one argues it was comfortable or healthy, some scholars have pointed out that the effects on women’s bodies – it makes the bosom look bigger and emphasizes the breasts – also made them very sexy (not a term 19th century women would use), and allowed them to use this sexuality in an empowering way,” she notes. Cohen prefers this view, seeing the corset as a source of empowerment and femininity that she hopes to channel at her wedding. She thus set out on a quest to find the perfect corset (one that fit her tinybiggie frame) to wear under her wedding dress. After scouring far and wide, Cohen found a corset at Town Shop, a lingerie retailer that specializes in undergarments for women with larger busts. Selma Koch, the store’s late owner, was wholly dedicated to helping women find the perfect-fitting lingerie for their body. Cohen’s experience at Town Shop would’ve made Koch kvell. Immediately upon walking in, the clerk sized Cohen up and guessed her size: F or G cup, probably a 32 band. Cohen explained that she wanted a corset for her wedding. She tried on the shop’s only
women who are not a size 0 actually sell better than ultra-skinny models.”
"Foundation Art" by Laura Ann Jacobs: "Don't Bet on It," left; "Are You Game?" above; and "Budding Out," below.
Customer Aliza Pollack, a New York City native, appreciates what the company is trying to do. “I’ve noticed they have those models and I love it,” she says. And the approach is working. Adore Me has seen 5506% growth in the past 3 years, and yielded $5.6M in revenue in 2013 and $16.2M in 2014. As a feminist, Cohen loved Adore Me’s concept. But after perusing the website, she noticed there weren’t many bras in her size, and there definitely wasn’t one that would work with her wedding dress. Cohen considered getting a bra in a size too small, just so that she could get a cute one she saw on the site. But that’s not the route she wanted to take. She knows the importance of the perfect undergarment.
option – white lycra with three hooks down the back – and settled on it. The problem began when she tried it on with the dress. “It’s an obscene amount of cleavage,” she said upon zipping up her tulle and lace gown. “I have no problem with cleavage, but I can’t see when someone would get away with this!” It was back to square one. With only two months to her wedding, Cohen needed to find a new option. She considered wearing a cute supportive bra with Spanx. That would serve a similar function to a corset, but without the cleavage. Cue Adore Me, a lingerie company founded in 2012. Sharon Klapka, Adore Me’s director of Business and Brand Development, left a corporate job to join the startup. While initially apprehensive, she was smitten with the company’s mission when CEO Morgan Hermand-
Waiche pitched her about the job: “Enough with...women who are over a size 10 needing to wear something that their 90-year-old grandma would also be willing to wear. We’re creating lingerie from 32A to 42G, and expanding to a 44G.” Klapka was convinced. “Okay, where do I sign up?” she said immediately. She identifies with the mission: “The size ranges [in the market] are very limited so women like myself and a lot of other women feel sidelined. It’s like, ‘You’re not invited to the party and you can’t sit with us.’” One of Adore Me’s main models is plus size and consumers have responded enthusiastically. In fact, in testing audience reactions to lingerie models, Klapka continues, “I was shocked to see that blondes don’t sell and the
Lingerie, in fact, can be a huge confidence booster. “I like to think that women are more confident with their bodies now especially when they can find lingerie that fits well,” says Gale Epstein, president and creative director of Hanky Panky, the company she and friend Lida Orzeck co-founded 38 years ago. “It builds confidence.” Epstein herself contributed to this progress, because of her instrumental role in popularizing the thong. While she didn't quite create the thong, “I perfected it,” she says. The thong revolution of the late ‘80s and ‘90s “helped women realize they could feel good about themselves, about what they had underneath, even if no one could see it,” Epstein explains. Body shape doesn't really matter for Hanky Panky's thong, because it fits everyone the same way, she says. JW Magazine | jwmag.org
“They stay in place,” no matter your shape or size. This year, in fact, Hanky Panky has also launched a line of plus-size lingerie that includes panties, camis, chemises and body suits. Adore Me, Hanky Panky, Spanx and others are trying to use lingerie as a way to allow women to reclaim their sense of confidence.
And that’s the point – confidence is all about fit. In Weinbach’s experience, wearing the proper bra size can make you happier. “Often when I help people, their posture and facial expression totally change when they find the right bra,” she said. “They’re standing tall and proud of their body.” In her search, Cohen had not yet reached that point. The bra and
shapewear combo strategy under her wedding dress wasn’t the right fit either. She didn’t feel confident, which she says is crucial to loving her dress. As she investigated further, Cohen saw that the fact of the matter is that there just isn’t enough market choice, especially when you fall outside of the Victoria’s Secret size range. Women are subject to market trends and designer impulses, RabinovitchFox explains. “There’s not really a choice. Unlike the 1920s, we’re not living in an era where people make their own clothes, which allows for more freedom and individuality,” she said. “You can only buy what’s available.” And, that’s what women do. The blushing bride-to-be has chosen to do her own thing. After her last dress fitting, Cohen came to an overwhelmingly clear conclusion: “I’m just going to wear a corset but leave the top hooks open” she explains. “That way I’ll be sucked in, and supported, but I won’t have overflowing cleavage. That wouldn’t be classy!” Though Cohen had to get creative with her foundation-wear, she found something that made her sexy and confident – exactly what she had hoped! “Nowadays,” Rabinovitch-Fox says, “there’s no one way to be a feminist. Feminism is in tune with ‘you need to do what is best for you.’ If a woman feels good, she goes out into the world confidently.” Cohen agrees: “Confidence is key. Choice is key. I feel great in my dress, and that’s what matters, right?” **Danielle Cohen is a pseudonym. Rachel Delia Benaim is a freelance writer who lives in New York City.
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
JWI children's libraries are easing the transition as families uprooted by domestic violence close a painful chapter in their lives. BY MEREDITH JACOBS
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
uilding children’s libraries in domestic violence shelters is a personal mission to Lori Weinstein. Early in her career, JWI’s CEO remembers visiting a shelter and watching a young mother read a story book to her child. “Watch her carefully,” Weinstein remembers the shelter director instructing her. “She’s not reading the actual words. She’s making up the story.”
“Ours is in our office,” says Nancy Aiken, director of CHANA, of her shelter’s library. This Baltimore safe house is home to one family at a time, but services many families. “Even when adults come in and see it, they just smile and feel warm,” explains Aiken of the library’s sense of calm and peace. “When police have to come and interview the kids, they let the child sit in the library’s rocking chair for a few minutes to relax.”
The director explained that the young woman couldn’t read, but because she was now finally in a safe place, she is learning. “She was learning for herself, but also for her child,” said Weinstein. “This is why it is so tremendously important to me that we build these children’s libraries. They reach two generations – not just children, but also their mothers.”
Aiken explains that the children have often fled with their mothers to Baltimore from other cities. They are picked up from their schools, not knowing what's going on, and arrive at CHANA's shelter. “When mom comes to talk to a counselor about what she is fleeing, the children are in complete shock. The first thing we do is take the children to the library, where they can sit and read in this warm and peaceful environment, and it’s so settling.”
This year, JWI launched the Book by Book capital campaign for its National Library Initiative – re-committing to its promise to build 100 children’s libraries in shelters across the country. Already, 50 libraries are in place and JWI has promised to complete the final 50 by 2017.
When moms are abused, but somehow manage to keep it from their children, it doesn’t mean the kids don’t feel the stress and the tension. Learning is meaningless when you come home to fear, Aiken observes.
“When police have to come and interview the kids, they let the child sit in the library’s rocking chair for a few minutes to relax. When mom comes to talk to a counselor about what she is fleeing... the first thing we do is take the children to the library, where they can sit and read in this warm and peaceful environment...”
“It’s hard to explain the value of school and learning to children who are hyper-vigilant,” she says. “They are worried about people, their responses, their actions – what they say and how they say it. They can’t connect to the learning when they are worried ‘Is the teacher mad? Does she like me? Does she know what’s going on at home? Will she know because of what I’m wearing, because I had to leave the house and this was all I could find to put on?’ “Children need a peaceful place,” Aiken continues. “What a child living in an abusive home never experiences is calm. There’s tension, or even the absence of tension – which isn’t calm. But, here, there is calm.” She tells the story of a child whose mom had fled an abusive situation where her children were receiving inadequate education. The children were so far behind that the new school
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
couldn’t accept them. Her son would have to catch up in every area before he could be placed in the fall in a class anywhere close to his age group. The boy came to the library every day in the spring, kicking his mother and screaming, Aiken recalls. Slowly, he began to feel safe and trust his tutor. He began to learn. Even more importantly, he discovered that learning was about accomplishments and not punishments. He grew to love the library and the tutor and advanced to the point where he could be accepted into school in the fall. “And now, to see him,” she says, “he loves it here. He runs in the door, grabs a Pepsi and runs to the library. Here he learned to love learning. This is his sanctuary.” The children’s library at the Greentree Shelter in Bethesda, Maryland, says Meredith Dayhoff, director, has become a place, not only for the children, but also their moms, to work on their skills. Many of the mothers “are under the age of 25 with more than one child,” she says, and have little employment history and poor credit, making it difficult to find housing and build stability for their families. “One mother has a high school diploma, but can’t read or write or do math,” Dayhoff says. “It’s hard for her to get a job. A tutor comes in and works with her. The library gives her access to books and helps with her education.”
man of the Child Mind Institute of New York believes these libraries can also serve as a space where both child and parent can have a moment of mindfulness. “Mom may be able to temporarily forget, ‘Oh, I’m in a shelter with my child,’ or ‘Where am I going to go next?’ and instead have a really mindful parenting moment.” Silverman, whose organization is dedicated to children’s mental health care and awareness, explains the importance of reading to children, not only to build literacy, but to build resilience. “If you think back to your childhood, you can think of a story or a narrative or a story time – some sort of story or fairytale you connected with as a child. These are essential building blocks. These help children see the world as a safe place – a place where they have a chance to succeed.” Even for children who may not have the start that we envision for each child or have access to the resources other children may have, getting as much quality time as soon as possible is what’s most important. “We build on their strength no matter how old and no matter what deprivation may have happened,” Silverman explains. Many different kinds of stories are told in children’s books and fairy tales
SHELTERS SEEKING FUNDS FOR JWI LIBRARIES: YWCA Central Alabama • Birmingham, AL Summit Advocates • Dillon, CO The Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence Services • North Haven, CT National Center for Children and Families, New Beginning Temporary Family Shelter • Washington, DC Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA) • Delray, FL SafeSpace • Stuart, FL Iris Center, Baton Rouge, LA Center for Women in Transition • Holland, MI Hope House • Lee’s Summit, MO St. Martha’s Hall • St Louis, MO Women's Advocates • St. Paul, MN Kathy J. Weinman Shelter • St. Louis, MO The Friendship Center • Helena, MT Domestic Violence Advocacy Center • Medford, NJ Center for Hope and Safety • Teaneck, NJ Safe Horizon - Willow House • Bronx, NY Alternatives for Battered Women • Rochester, NY Battered Women’s Shelter Community Outreach Center of Summit and Medina Counties • Akron, OH Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Inc (DVIS) • Tulsa, OK Bradley Angle • Portland, OR Tillamook County Women's Resource Center • Tillamook, OR Women’s Center of Rhode Island • Providence, RI YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee • Nashville, TN Genesis Shelter • Dallas, TX Sacred Heart Shelter • Seattle, WA New Beginnings • Seattle, WA
Having a designated space for learning helps one feel more deliberate or thoughtful about the task. Studying at a desk surrounded by books makes for a different experience than studying in a crowded room that is housing many people doing different things. For children and moms, being in a library means they can focus on homework, reading and learning, rather than other things. Dr. Mandi SilverJW Magazine | jwmag.org
– stories that apply to personal circumstances such as moving, going to a doctor or losing a loved one. Such books are “psycho-educational,” she says. “They help normalize an experience and give parents language to talk to children about difficult situations.” This sentiment is echoed by Barbara Micucci, a guidance counselor at Caley Elementary School in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. “When you’re able to read books about kids who’ve experienced the same kind of trauma, you’re not alone, it’s not your fault.” Books are powerful, she says, as a means of escape and for taking readers to places they’ve never seen, but also as a way to normalize life. “Maybe the child has had to leave in a hurry, or during the night, maybe that child read in bed and is now in a strange bed. These books can help the situation feel more normal.” Or if the child can find a book he loved during
a happier time, re-reading that book can help make a positive connection. “We had a family that fled to us,” Micucci recalls. “They lived with relatives. I tried to wrap [the children] in other groups – not dealing with their dad, but dealing with feelings – where they could be safe with other kids.” She explains that when children go through trauma, be it domestic violence, grief or divorce, they feel like they are the only ones. When they have space at a shelter for homework or reading, they connect with other kids who are going through the same thing. “When they do homework and they see Johnny, they know Johnny is here too for the same reason. They don’t have to talk about it, but they know they are not alone.” Learn more about the National Library Initiative and how to help build a library at jwi.org/nli, or contact Sasha Altschuler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
creating 100 children’s libraries in domestic violence shelters nationwide by 2017 LEARN MORE & DONATE:
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
CULINARY CL ASSICS, REIMAGINED With contemporary ingredients and innovative techniques, Jewish chefs and cookbook authors are breathing fresh life into traditional Ashkenazi dishes. BY JAYNE COHEN
nce upon a time, a wildly inventive European balabusta decided to get creative with her Chanukah latkes. So she grated some of that new starchy root vegetable from America that was becoming so popular and fried it up. That was around 200 years ago and we’ve been eating potato latkes ever since. Culinary ferment and fusion may be happening faster now, but the tradition of updating classic foods is as old as Jewish time: the original haroset was no more a mixture of apples, walnuts, and wine than the first Rosh Hashanah dinner included braised brisket. And definitely not a brisket simmered with onion soup mix or marinated in Coca-Cola. These days such mid-20th century old-school briskets have morphed into cutting edge dishes on restaurant menus. Chef Micah Wexler in Los Angeles has created a mouth-watering brisket shawarma. And in New Orleans, the 2015 James Beard-award winning chef, Alon Shaya, makes his brisket out of veal and poaches it sous vide until fork-tender but still pink.
Today’s new generation of Jewish chefs and cookbook authors are finding inspiration in the traditional Ashkenazi foods they grew up eating. They’re breathing fresh life into culinary dinosaurs with imaginative riffs that reflect changing palates, innovative cooking techniques, and a passion for fresh, seasonal foods, sustainably sourced. They are rewriting recipes with ingredients from Latin America and Asia, not to mention pantry staples from the Mediterranean and Israeli kitchens: from labneh and preserved lemon to pomegranate molasses and za’atar. As Jewish cooks plan their menus for the fall holidays, many will look for flavors that remind them of bubbe, but taste like today. So I’ve turned to food writers and chefs for some new takes on five Ashkenazi culinary icons – challah, gefilte fish, tsimmes, rugelach, and yes, brisket – that can be prepared in home kitchens. “Eating Jewish” – especially around the holidays – connects us with our past, and encoded in these dishes are our family stories and our history. But through the meals we share with our children, it’s also our link to the future. Here are new food memories to pass on. JW Magazine | jwmag.org
CHALLAH: LEAH KOENIG “It’s an exciting time to ‘eat Jewish,’” Leah Koenig, author of the recent book, Modern Jewish Cooking, tells me. “More and more young Jewish chefs and food professionals are starting to realize the immense depth of their own food heritage and reject the kitschy stereotypes born in the Borscht Belt era. When prepared right, with care, good ingredients, and a little imagination, Jewish food is as vibrant and timeless as any traditional cuisine.” In Koenig’s case, that doesn’t mean heirloom recipes set in stone. Her bubbe didn’t share her cooking secrets with her granddaughter: she passed away years before Leah was born. “She never had the opportunity to beckon me into the kitchen as only a grandmother can,” Koenig writes. Creating a personal culinary repertoire without inherited recipes definitely had its drawbacks, but it was also liberating. “I felt none of that pressure to make a recipe exactly as I was taught, so I had a chance to get creative from the beginning,” she explains. Her riffs and updates reflect the contemporary palate and concerns of today’s new generation of Jewry. “Eastern European food tends to be a bit heavy, so it is important to find ways to add brightness, lightness, and color. With matzo brei, for example, I roast sliced strawberries with sugar and lemon juice to make a sweet and vibrant topping.” Herbs and lemon add “tons of extra flavor and freshness” to old-fashioned noodles with cottage cheese and sour cream. Even classic challah – the traditional Ashkenazi beginning to every holiday meal save Passover – is treated to glorious makeovers. She makes a sweetspiced spiral challah, golden with pumpkin and ribboned with apple butter and shards of apple, that is ideal for the fall holidays, as well as a braided loaf fragrant with sautéed leeks and thyme. I ask Koenig for advice to cooks who are intimidated by the thought of baking any homemade challah, let alone these exceptional, creative loaves. “Go for it! Just don’t expect absolute challah magic on your first try. If your first few loaves are a little dry or dense, a couple minutes in the toaster oven works wonders. Before long, you’ll get into your challah groove, and it is smooth – and delicious – sailing from there.” 44
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Leah writes, “This gorgeous, slightly sweet challah is inspired by the flavors of autumn. First, puréed pumpkin and spices get kneaded into the dough. The loaves are then filled with apple butter and finely chopped apple, and spiraled into a thick coil. People tend to be readily impressed by homemade challah, but my dinner guests audibly gasp every time I slice into the mahoganycolored loaves, threaded through with a ribbon of apple butter.” She suggests serving it on Sukkot or Thanksgiving, spread with her Cinnamon-Honey Tahini Spread, but the challah, dipped into fragrant honey, would also make an exquisite start to a Rosh Hashanah dinner. And, Leah adds, “On the off chance that you have leftovers, it makes otherworldly French toast.” Yield: 2 spiral-shaped loaves Ingredients: • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast • 1 teaspoon sugar, plus ⅓ cup/65 g • 1 cup/240 ml warm water (110°F/45°C) • 4 ½ cups/570 g all-purpose flour • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt • ½ cup/120 g fresh or canned pumpkin purée • ¼ cup/60 ml vegetable oil, plus 1 teaspoon • 2 eggs • ⅔ cup/160 g apple butter • 1 small apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped Directions: 1. Stir together the yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and warm water in a medium bowl. Let stand until foaming, 5 to 10 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining ⅓ cup/65 g sugar, flour, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt in a large bowl. 3. Add the pumpkin, ¼ cup/60 ml vegetable oil, and 1 of the eggs to the yeast mixture and whisk to combine. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast mixture. Gently stir until the dough begins to form, then turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead well, adding more flour, a little at a time, as necessary, until a supple dough forms, 8 to 12 minutes. Rub the remaining 1 teaspoon oil around the bottom of a large bowl, add the dough, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let stand in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to ½ hours. Reprinted with permission from Modern Jewish Cooking, ©2015 by Leah Koenig (Chronicle Books, 2015)
4. Line two 9-inch/23-cm round cake pans with a circle of parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment. Gently deflate the dough with your hands by pressing it in the center and turning it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half with a knife. Working with one piece of the dough (and keeping the other covered with a dish towel), use a rolling pin to roll it into a large rectangle, about ⅛ inch/4 mm thick. Spread about half of the apple butter evenly over the top, and sprinkle with half of the chopped apple. Starting at one of the long ends, tightly roll the dough in on itself, like a jelly roll. Pinch the ends to seal and gently stretch into a rope 24 inch/61 cm long. Coil the rope into a circle and place into one of the prepared pans, tucking the end underneath. Repeat with the second piece of dough and the remaining apple butter and chopped apple.
5. Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl and brush the challahs with one coat of egg wash. (Put the remaining egg wash in the refrigerator.) Cover the loaves loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes more. Fifteen minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. 6. Uncover the loaves and brush with a second coat of egg wash. (Don’t skip the second coat; it adds deep beautiful color to the loaves.) Bake the loaves until deep golden brown and cooked through, or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaves registers 195°F/90°C, 40 to 55 minutes. (The cooking time varies significantly depending on how thick the coil is. Start checking with your thermometer at 40 minutes, then every 5 minutes after that, as necessary.) Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Challah is best the day it is made, but will keep for up to 3 days and can be rewarmed in an oven or sliced and toasted. JW Magazine | jwmag.org
TSIMMES: JUDY BERNSTEIN BUNZL, LISA ROTMIL & KATYA GOLDMAN The name means a big to-do or fuss, but tsimmes started out as a simple Sabbath dish of slow-cooked root vegetables and honey. For the past 500 years though, that sweet, meltingly tender vegetable stew has seen lots of changes. Dried fruit, fragrant spices, even meat might be added. Laced with jalapeños, a dish called sweet potato tsimmes once turned up on a Greenwich Village menu as a homey side to pork chops. But all too often, tsimmes is a miasma of mushy vegetables, with a one-dimensional taste: excessively sugary.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
So I ask Judy Bernstein Bunzl and Lisa Rotmil – who along with Katya Goldman wrote The Community Table: Recipes and Stories from the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan and Beyond – how they came up with their fresh take on tsimmes. They tell a story of collaboration – with the community and with each other.
“Our JCC is many diverse communities,” Bunzl explains. “We’re influenced by what members are cooking and mine ideas from the community-at-large, like our Matzah Brei Sri Lankan Style.”
• ¾ pound sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes or 1 ½ -inch-long sticks
Above all, it’s the collaboration of the three chefs – each with unique preferences and traditions – all cooking together that has proved to be “an absolutely fabulous formula for coming up with new recipes,” says Bunzl. While all come from an Ashkenazi background, Rotmil adds, “each of us has an adventurous palate. And with the tsimmes, we each contributed something different.” Drawing from the kitchens of the wider Jewish community, they included the Israeli flavors of za’atar and figs. “To spin it healthier and more contemporary,” she continues, roasting the carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips lets the natural sugars in the root vegetables caramelize without added sweetening. “It’s nice to strike a balance,” Rotmil sums up. “Keep some of the traditional and update the rest.”
Tsimmes is traditional in many families for Rosh Hashanah: its sweetness embodies the wish for a happy year and reminds us to act in a way that would cause no sadness. And the golden-orange of the carrots and sweet potatoes is symbolic of coins, and, therefore, of good fortune. But, as the authors write, this is not “the super-sweet, gooey carrots always on the buffet tables of your grandmothers’ dining rooms. Don’t expect that flavor or texture here.” Figs replace the prunes and pineapple of tsimmes past. Add a dash of balsamic and a sprinkle of za’atar, and the tsimmes becomes “a great mix of Ashkenazi tradition with Middle Eastern flavors."
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
• 8 dried figs, cut in eighths or ¾ cup golden raisins • ¼ cup orange juice • ¾ pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes or 1 ½-inch-long sticks
• ½ pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes or 1 ½ -inch-long sticks • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar • 1 tablespoon molasses • 2 teaspoons za’atar • 1 teaspoon kosher salt • Freshly ground black pepper Directions: 1. In a small bowl, combine the figs or raisins and orange juice and let soak for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 hour. Drain and reserve the orange juice. 2. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 3. In a large bowl, combine the figs or raisins, carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips. Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, molasses, za’atar, salt, and pepper to taste and toss to coat. 4. Spread the mixture on the baking sheet. Roast, tossing occasionally, until the vegetables begin to caramelize, 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the reserved orange juice over the vegetables and toss again. Add more salt to taste and serve.
Reprinted with permission from The Community Table: Recipes and Stories from the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan and Beyond, by Katya Goldman, Judy Bernstein Bunzl, and Lisa Rotmil, ÂŠ 2015 by the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, Food photography by John Tavares (Grand Central Life & Style, 2015)
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
BRISKET: THEO PECK “My mom made a brisket for every holiday,” Theo Peck recalls. “She would spend all day in the kitchen with my aunts and cousins, all the women cooking and kibitzing together. There’d be borscht simmering on the stovetop, brisket braising for hours in the oven. The smells were just incredible.” Ashkenazi cooking is part of Peck’s culinary DNA: his great-grandfather co-founded the storied dairy restaurant, Ratner’s, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. And at Peck’s Specialty Foods, his own artisanal take-out shop and restaurant in Brooklyn, Jewish-inflected stand-outs – including hamantaschen and corn muffins made from Ratner’s original recipes and schmaltz-fried fingerling potatoes – share menu space with favorites from Nouvelle Brooklyn cuisine. His brisket sandwich with kimchi is a little of both.
Yield: about 8 servings
Like this version braised with pomegranate, mustard, and fragrant spices, it’s just one of several takes on brisket in his repertoire. “The beauty of brisket is you can do almost anything with it – even pickle it. The braising technique is the same in many cultures, but with different flavor profiles, you can make it Asian, Hungarian, Eastern European, French.”
• 2 teaspoons ground mustard seed
Surprisingly, serving brisket is not a universal holiday tradition throughout the Diaspora: it’s only customary among North American Jews. Peck speculates, “It’s an American celebratory thing to serve a big, hunky piece of meat. Brisket is relatively inexpensive, it’s kosher, and so with it, Jews could celebrate, bringing a big chunk of meat to the table too.”
• 2 to 3 cups stock (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
“I think big Jewish celebrations with lots of food—and the kvetching and laughter—can’t be beat,” Peck notes. After his holiday meals, Peck’s mother always saved some of the meat for a brisket and ketchup sandwich. “Now that I have a family of my own,” he adds, “my goal is to create new traditions with them.” 48
Like his mom, who makes a brisket for every holiday, Theo Peck prefers the second-cut, also known as the deckle. “It’s fattier, yes, but it’s so well-marbled that you wind up with a delicious, really unctuous piece of meat,” he advises. “And I’m a big believer in low and slow: the lower the temperature, the more tender the meat.” To season the brisket and develop a nice crust, he suggests, “salt and pepper the meat the night before so it can penetrate,” and sear the brisket before it’s braised for hours. “Basically, it’s easy: just set it first and then forget it after that.”
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Ingredients: • One 5-pound brisket, preferably the second-cut (deckle) • Salt and freshly ground pepper • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil • 3 medium onions, peeled and sliced • 5 garlic cloves, peeled • 2 teaspoons paprika • 1 star anise • 1 teaspoon ground coriander • 3 bay leaves • 1 cup beet juice (available bottled in many supermarkets and specialty stores or even better, freshly pressed) • ¼ cup pomegranate juice • 1 tablespoon honey • 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses • 1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar • 2 tablespoons grain mustard Directions: 1. Trim the brisket of any excess fat and generously rub in salt and pepper. Refrigerate overnight. 2. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Remove the brisket from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature. Set a roasting pan large enough to hold the meat in one layer on the stovetop and turn the burner(s) to medium-high. Heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the brisket and brown on both sides. Transfer to a platter large enough to accommodate the meat and its juices, and set aside.
Recipe from Theo Peck, owner of Peck’s Specialty Foods, Brooklyn, N.Y., used with permission.
3. Lower the heat to medium-low, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and sweat the onions and garlic. 4. When the onions and garlic start to color and become fragrant, raise heat to medium-high and stir in salt and pepper to taste, paprika, star anise, coriander, mustard seed, and bay leaves. Continue stirring until you can smell the spices. 5. Add the beet juice, and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Stir in the pomegranate juice, honey, pomegranate molasses, and vinegar.
7. Place the brisket in the oven. After 3 hours, start checking for tenderness, though it may take another hour or more longer. Once you can easily prick it with a cake tester, it is ready to remove. Let it rest in the pan for an hour. 8. Before serving, transfer the brisket to a platter and slice. Add the grain mustard, salt and pepper to taste to the onions and sauce remaining in the pan and stir well. Return the brisket to the pan and rewarm in the sauce until heated through. Arrange on a platter and serve accompanied by the sauce.
6. Return the brisket to the pan, fat side up. Pour in enough stock to reach just below the top of the meat. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the brisket, then cover the pan with foil.
Peck's aromatic pomegranate brisket
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
RUGELACH: MINDY SEGAL A self-described “cookie nerd,” Mindy Segal, proprietor of Chicago’s popular HotChocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar, traces her inventive improvisations to the KitchenAid mixer her parents gave her for Chanukah when she was thirteen. “Cookies were prime territory for experimentation,” she writes in her new book, Cookie Love: They possess malleable dough and are sturdy and forgiving in a way that delicate pastries are not. But though making chocolate chip cookies was part of her earliest childhood forays in the kitchen, baking rugelach was not. “I had to teach myself how to make them,” she explains to me. Once she began devising recipes for rugelach, though, “I opened up the floodgates and let my pastry-chef creative juices run free... [Rugelach] reflect my soul, my family, my Eastern European Jewish heritage.” Offering endless possibilities “to be as creative as I want to be,” rugelach are a “perfect cookie to play with textures and express the seasons,” she says. Autumn is the time for rugelach rolled with pear butter or Fig Segals, her luscious play on Fig Newtons. Her strawberryrhubarb rugelach taste like spring, and summer brings rugelach filled with raspberries and sprinkled with fragrant rose-flavored sugar. And for any time, Segal reinvented the classic nut-and-cinnamon rugelach as a mashup of crunchy butter brickle, cinnamon, and fromscratch caramel sauce, which all gently bubble up to surround the cookie with terrific-tasting cracklings. “I try to take the ordinary cookies that people are familiar with and make them extraordinary,” says Segal, who won the James Beard Award in 2012 for Outstanding Pastry Chef in the country. “I have major respect for tradition and am always working within a framework.” For rugelach, that means first starting out with her “rock-solid cream cheese dough... easy to roll and easy to shape.” But, she writes, “It’s also okay if the cookies don’t look perfect. I like it when the cookies crack open in places so the filling can ooze out.” 50
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Mindy Segal writes, “This is my grown-up take on Fig Newtons. I plump up figs with port wine, cook them down with honey, and puree it all into a paste. The cookies resemble classic rugelach, but with a catch: instead of rolling the cookies from wedges, I cut the dough into strips and then fold them like a business letter so they look square. “Make the filling the day you plan to shape the cookies. The filling firms up significantly when refrigerated. If you can’t get to it in the same day, leave the filling at room temperature. If the filling seems stiff, paddle it for a minute or two in a stand mixer, adding a tablespoon of water if needed to soften the paste.” Yield: 48 cookies Ingredients: For the filling: • 1 ½ pounds dried Black Mission figs • 3 cups port or red wine • 1 cup honey • 1 vanilla bean, seeds and pod For the cookies: • 1 recipe Classic Cream Cheese Dough, divided in half and chilled (page 52) • Flour for dusting • 1 extra-large egg white, lightly beaten • ½ cup granulated sugar Directions: To make the filling: 1. Remove the stems from the figs and cut them in half. Combine all of the filling ingredients in a bowl and let the figs rehydrate at room temperature for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight. 2. In a 6-quart heavy saucepan, cook the figs and their hydrating liquid over medium heat, stirring every couple of minutes, until the liquid has become syrupy but is not completely reduced, 15 to 18 minutes depending on how long the figs have macerated beforehand. When you push the figs with a wooden spoon, they should be soft enough to break apart easily. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid, and let steam for 20 minutes. 3. Remove the vanilla pod. Puree the figs in a food processor with any liquid in the pot until a paste forms. Let the paste sit at room temperature until cooled. Reprinted with permission from Cookie Love by Mindy Segal, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
To make the cookies: 1. Put a sheet of parchment paper the same dimensions as a half sheet (13- by 18inch) pan on the work surface and dust lightly with flour. Unwrap one dough half and place on top. 2. Using a rolling pin and a pastry roller, roll the dough half into a rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border from the edge of the parchment paper. The dough should be just shy of ¼ inch thick. If the edges become uneven, push a bench scraper against the sides to straighten them out. To keep the dough from sticking to the parchment, periodically dust the top lightly with flour, cover with another piece of parchment paper, and, sandwiching the dough between both sheets of parchment paper, flip the dough and paper over. Peel off the top layer of parchment paper and continue to roll. Repeat with the second dough half. Stack both sheets of dough on top of each other and refrigerate until chilled, approximately 30 minutes.
3. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a few half sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.
photo by Dan Goldberg © 2015
4. Invert the sheets of dough onto the work surface and peel off the top sheet of parchment paper. For each sheet of dough, spread a thin, even layer of fig paste across the surface using an offset spatula. If the dough becomes warm, it may tear when adding the fig paste. If it tears, chill the dough before proceeding. (You will use approximately 1 ½ cups of paste per sheet.) Trim the edges. Using a dough cutter or a pizza cutter, divide the sheet in half lengthwise into two long strips. Working with one strip at a time and moving crosswise, cut the strips into ribbons approx. 1 ¼ inches wide. 5. Using an offset spatula, separate a ribbon away from the rest of the dough. Starting from the base, tightly fold (do not roll) the dough up so it is more square than round. (See photo) Place seam-side down on the prepared sheet pan and repeat with the remaining ribbons, spacing them on the pans 1 inch apart. Brush the tops with the egg white and sprinkle with the sugar. (continued on next page) JW Magazine | jwmag.org
6. Bake one pan at a time for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 6 to 8 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Let the cookies cool on the sheet pan for 1 to 2 minutes (do not wait too long or the fig paste will stick to the parchment paper). Using an offset spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining pans. 7. Rugelach can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Rolled, unbaked rugelach can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
classic cream cheese dough Yield: 2 (13- by 18-inch) sheets of dough Ingredients: • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour • 1 teaspoon kosher salt • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes Directions: 1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the cream cheese and mix on medium speed to combine, 10 to 15 seconds. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until aerated, approximately 3 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. 2. On medium speed, add the vanilla, mixing briefly until incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and salts. 3. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Do not overmix. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand. 4. Stretch two sheets of plastic wrap on a work surface. Divide the dough in half (each half will weigh around 14 ½ ounces) and place a half on each piece of plastic. Pat the dough into rectangles, wrap tightly, and refrigerate until chilled throughout, at least 2 hours or up to 1 week. Note: For a variation, make the cream cheese dough with 2 ounces of grated 70% cacao chocolate ground into the flour in a food processor before mixing the dough. 52
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
GEFILTE FISH: LIZ ALPERN AND JEFFREY YOSKOWITZ When Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz first began talking about a food venture, they kept coming back to gefilte fish. “It was a frequent butt of jokes,” Alpern admits, “but gefilte fish was so good when it was fresh! And we loved its symbolism. It showed how far a family could stretch one little fish. It stood for resourcefulness and the honor paid to the Sabbath. If we could re-introduce people to gefilte fish, we could do anything.” And so The Gefilteria, a boutique company specializing in Old World Jewish foods beginning with its namesake fish, was born. Yoskowitz explains their recipe-creation process: “We think about why our peers don’t like a certain food and then we find a way of making it delicious for them.” Adds Alpert: “Presentation helps.” The elegant striped fish loaves Alpern and Yoskowitz came up with are delicately textured and brimming with savory aromatics. And the ick factors – fish jelly and that grey dust color – are gone. “It’s the carp that turns grey,” they note. They don’t use it because “today it’s hard to find good carp that is free from pollution and sustainably sourced.” The ardent fans of their gefilte fish are by no means limited to Jews. “And what’s not to like? If you grind high-quality fresh fish, fresh onions and spices together and bake the mixture in a terrine, it’s not so different from popular dishes around the world,” they note. While they initially toyed with au courant seasonings like curry, sriracha, and turmeric, they ultimately realized they preferred to “build on top of the classic flavors of the Ashkenazi kitchen. We use ingredients that weren’t available in the shtetl, of course, but we are mainly interested in introducing flavors that are complementary, rather than flavors that mask the Ashkenazi nature of the dishes.” They’re still working on new versions of their signature gefilte fish, as well as other reclaimed Ashkenazi treasures for their upcoming book, The Gefilte Manifesto, due out in 2016.
Delicate and refined, yet richly flavored, this light fish loaf is no more difficult to prepare than a tuna burger. But it still carries a bubbe-worthy taste memory of the best homemade gefilte fish. Yield: One 24-ounce loaf, about 12 slices
photo by Jerry Speier
Ingredients: • 2 tablespoons oil (vegetable or olive oil), plus 1 extra teaspoon for frying leeks
• 4 ounces pike filet, skin removed
• 1 medium leek, peeled and roughly chopped
• 1 ½ teaspoons salt
• 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped • 12 ounces whitefish filet, skin removed
• ¼ cup sugar • 1 teaspoon white pepper • 2 eggs
Directions: 1. In a small pan, heat the teaspoon of oil over medium heat. Add leeks to the pan and sauté, stirring constantly, until leeks are soft and starting to turn golden, about 8 minutes. 2. Place leeks and onions in food processor and pulse until completely ground. Add whitefish and pike filets to the bowl of the mixer, along with the sugar, salt, white pepper, eggs and remaining oil. Pulse ingredients until mixture is light-colored and evenly textured throughout, using a rubber spatula or spoon between pulses to make sure that ingredients are evenly distributed. 3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, line a one-pound loaf pan with parchment paper. Scoop mixture into the loaf pan, smoothing out the top of the loaf with the rubber spatula. 4. Bake gefilte loaf for about 35 minutes, until the corners begin to brown. Let gefilte cool before removing from the loaf pan and slicing. Serve chilled, accompanied by freshly made horseradish.
Recipe from Thepermission Gefilteria, from Brooklyn, N.Y.;Jewish Elizabeth Alpern and Reprinted with Modern Cooking, Jeffrey Yoskowitz, co-founders, used with2015) permission. ©2015 by Leah Koenig (Chronicle Books,
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
This year, JWI expanded our FINANCIAL LITERACY offerings with a new series of workshops for women over 50. “Know Your Worth, Own Your Future” – a partnership with Hadassah. Deborah Rosenbloom, v.p of programming and new initiatives for JWI, facilitated pilots of the program for Hadassah members in D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami. Beginning this fall, Hadassah will offer these workshops to its chapters across the country. JWI, in turn, will be making the workshop available to other groups through our new Financial Literacy Institute. For more about the Institute, visit jwi.org/fli.
Above: Deborah Rosenbloom, JWI’s vice president of programming and new initiatives, facilitates the new “Know Your Worth” workshop in D.C. (top), while Judy Erdheim, president of Hadassah Greater Washington, participates (bottom).
With funds from the Allstate Foundation's Purple Purse Challenge, we created new budgeting resources for women rebuilding their lives that we distributed to more than 200 domestic violence shelters nationwide with our Mother’s Day Flower Project flowers and gifts.
at work! 54
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
We also brought back “Penny” – from our Life$avings® college workshop – in a social media campaign for young women during April’s Financial Literacy Awareness Month. Each message linked to additional resources on our website.
JWI's YOUNG WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP NETWORK, supported by the Sondra D. Bender Leadership Institute at JWI, had an incredible year! With workshops and events that build careers and community, this is a must-join group for all young professional Jewish women in their 20s and 30s. Our newlyexpanded board of directors has poised the network to launch in new cities in the coming year.
Above: Members of JWI’s YWLN learn about entrepreneurship from Baked by Yael’s Yael Krigman; and Rachel Kliger and Sasha Altschuler celebrate role model Ruth Bader Ginsburg at a recent YWLN happy hour event. Right: Meredith Jacobs, JWI's vice president of marketing and communications, with Brett Goldman of ZBT.
JWI’s partnership with Sigma Delta Tau national sororities and Zeta Beta Tau national fraternities has broadened the reach of our work to build HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES. Our award-winning SAFE SMART DATING program – the first co-ed program for the campus Greek community to address sexual assault and promote bystander intervention – reached students from Boston University, Columbia University, NYU, University of Denver, Rutgers, American University, Northeastern, Maryland, Emory, Tulane, Florida State and Indiana University. Grants from the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago and the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Atlanta will let us bring the work to Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and the University of Georgia. We also launched a public awareness campaign on 100 campuses nationwide, drawing attention to seemingly innocuous statements that contribute to a culture of violence on campus. “What’s That (Really) About” will be used again this fall. Coming this fall: “Green Light, Go!” – hosted by ZBT chapters nationwide – will have college students playing the childhood game “Red Light, Green Light” to raise money for ZBT’s Fund for Safe and Healthy Relationships (supporting JWI) and spark conversations about consent.
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
JWI recently launched the BROTHER TO BROTHER program, bringing students from ZBT and AZA (the boys’ division of BBYO) chapters to Capitol Hill and the White House to discuss the positive impacts of JWI's educational programs, as well as the need for increased prevention and bystander intervention programs for high school boys. Next year, Brother to Brother will be expanded nationwide in partnership with ZBT and BBYO.
BBYO teen girls have also been involved, raising money for JWI's work through our GIRLS ACHIEVE GRAPENESS! campaign and bringing our new healthy relationship programs to their chapters. “YES AND KNOW” – about establishing healthy boundaries and “LADIES & GENTLEMEN” – about gender norms and expectations – are available for free download at jwi.org/teens.
This year saw the redesign of JW MAGAZINE. With thoughtful new features and a bold new look, JW is now published online four times a year – you can read it cover to cover at jwmag.org – and print copies are mailed to our donors and supporters in fall and spring. top left: Nick Carr, president of George Washington University’s ZBT chapter, speaks with Senate staff about the need for healthy relationship education on college campuses. top right: BBG teens from across the country participated in “Girls Achieve Grapeness” campaigns to raise awareness and funds for healthy relationship programs. bottom right: Sasha Altschuler, coordinator of JWI’s National Library Initiative, and author Judith Viorst at a June fundraiser for the Book by Book Capital Campaign. 56 JW Magazine | jwmag.org
At the start of the year, JWI launched a capital campaign to complete the goal of our NATIONAL LIBRARY INITIATIVE: Building 100 children’s libraries in domestic violence shelters nationwide. We have 50 libraries built and three more in the works. At the end of June, beloved children’s author Judith Viorst was our guest of honor at a Washington, D.C. fundraiser for the libraries. (see "Turning the Page" on p. 39.)
new leaders join the board Three women from diverse fields – a prominent congregational rabbi, a Discovery Communications executive, and a legislative policy analyst – were appointed to JWI's board of trustees on June 22 in Washington, D.C.
ROBYN ALTMAN, vice president of education partnerships at Discovery Communications, has helped create educational initiatives with Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, foundations and trade associations that deliver programs at no cost on critical topics such as STEM, workforce readiness and life skills. She previously held communications positions at University of California, Berkeley; the office of U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu and the Senate Democratic Technology & Communications Committees.
MIRI CYPERS is a senior policy associate at Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former member of Congress (and 2014 JWI Woman to Watch honoree) Gabrielle Giffords. Cypers will represent JWI’s Young Women’s Leadership Network, a group she founded during her tenure as JWI’s director of advocacy and programs.
RABBI SUSAN SHANKMAN officiates at services and life cycle events and provides pastoral care and counseling at Washington Hebrew Congregation. She also develops programming for young families, initiatives in social action and women’s issues and outreach to interfaith families. She is the immediate past president of the Washington Board of Rabbis and serves on the boards of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. A member of JWI's National Clergy Task Force on Domestic Abuse, she was our 2006 Community Leadership Honoree. In 2014 she received the Matthew H. Simon Rabbinical Award from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
In other leadership news...
was elected to an additional oneyear term as the chair of JWI’s board of trustees. She is the CEO and CIO (chief inspiration officer) of Kim and Scott’s Crave Bar, and co-founder of Kim and Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels. She was named a JWI Woman to Watch in 2010 and served as chair of JWI’s communications committee.
VIVIAN BASS, CEO of the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, has been named chairelect of JWI’s board of trustees. She has dedicated her career to improving the quality of life, independence, community inclusion and dignity of individuals with disabilities on a non-sectarian basis, locally, nationally and globally. Bass, a Lion of Judah, has received a number of honors, including “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian magazine and JWI’s 2007 Women to Watch Community Leadership Award.
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
JWI's Young Women's Leadership Network is heading out of town! Our D.C. network is expanding to reach young Jewish professional women in New York and Denver, starting this year. Join us!
Above: Rooftop Yoga and Meditation (left) and Bootcamp Workout (right). Below: Cake Pops and Entrepreneurs Bottom: The Young Women's Leadership Conference
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
In her latest novel, the third on a Jewish theme, Alice Hoffman recreates the story of Rachel, the unconventional mother of Camille Pissarro, the father of Impressionism. BY SANDEE BRAWARSKY
amille Pissarro painted French landscapes, village scenes and sometimes the sea, capturing the light with uncommon skill and unmistakable style. That he was born and grew up a world away, on an island in the West Indies, may have inspired his color palette and use of light. Also helping to shape this man, who was considered one of the fathers of Impressionism and one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, was his mother, Rachel. A truly original figure, she fashioned a life that defied convention in St. Thomas in the early 1800s. In her latest work of historical fiction, the distinguished bestselling author Alice Hoffman paints Rachel and her family in luminous language, and imagines the lives of the small Jewish community of refugees who fled the Inquisition and made St. Thomas their home in the New World. The Marriage of Opposites (Simon & Schuster) unfolds at a cinematic pace, with the resonance of a fable. The
tropical island with its frangipani and hummingbirds is fragrant, a place of magical beauty; upon spying it, Columbus was said to have called it “heaven-on-earth.” Born Rachel Pomie, she is an independent woman who always knew what she wanted. She grew up longing for the France of her ancestors, which she heard about in books. The family owned apple orchards, which is the root of its name, and carried an apple tree as a reminder when they escaped. She’s a storyteller, who picks up new tales from sellers in the island marketplace, some passed along by pirates and their wives and former slaves. The daughter of a difficult mother and an adoring father, Rachel agrees to an arranged marriage to help save the family business, thus setting aside her own dreams of going to France. Her new husband is a widower with several children, and the families merge their businesses. Rachel proves to be a wise businesswoman, but upon the deaths of her father and her husband, the family property is given to a branch of the family in France, since women couldn’t own property.
When the new owner arrives on the island, the young man, Frederic Pizzarro (the spelling was later changed) and Rachel fall deeply in love. But as distant relatives, they are unable to marry in the Jewish community. Rachel defies communal leaders, setting off a scandal, and Camille (whose given name is Jacob Abraham Camille) is one of several children she has with Frederic. As they are outcasts in the community, Camille is also set apart. Perhaps that outsiderness, along with his mother’s abounding love, served to further Camille’s artistic power.
Portrait of the Artist's Mother (1888) JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Told through several voices, this is a novel of family and the intricate connections that link people, and the racial and social constructs that keep them apart. Hoffman also explores themes of forgiveness and identity, and how familial patterns repeat over generations, as the scene shifts from St. Thomas to Paris. “It was completely by accident,” Hoffman says in an interview, when asked what drew her to this subject. She explains that she visited a Pissarro exhibition at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and first learned, to her surprise, that the artist was Jewish and from the island of St. Thomas. Inspired to do more research, she read about his mother Rachel and became increasingly interested in the family and the island’s Jewish community. “It was an untold story,” she says. Hoffman notes that there’s not that much written about Rachel, “but enough for me to get a feeling about who she was.” She tried to stay as close to her life as possible. One of the challenges in writing the novel, she says, was showing Rachel to be both difficult and sympathetic. “She’s an amazingly strong character, who was very polarizing.” Indeed, Hoffman manages to portray Rachel in all her complexity. She’d be a great character in a film. This novel is the third – and Hoffman claims, the last – of her historical novels on Jewish themes. The Dovekeepers, set in ancient Israel at Masada, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, which takes place in the immigrant Brooklyn world of her own Russian and Polish grandparents, and A Marriage of Opposites are linked not only by their book jackets – each features an exquisite and intriguing blackand-white photo by Joyce Tenneson 60
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
– but as true stories that had been largely forgotten. “It was a duty to bring them to life,” she says. She says that she tends to do projects in threes. In addition, she has also published a young adult novel, Incantation, about hidden Jews in Spain during the time of the Inquisition. Writing these books on Jewish themes, she says, “has been connective – to learn more about where I came from, what my stories are.”
above: Entrée du village de Voisins (1872); below: Hay Harvest at Éragny (1901) bottom: Camille Pissarro, c. 1900
Hoffman, who was born in New York City in 1952 and grew up on Long Island, published her first novel, Property Of, at 21. The author of more than 30 works of fiction says, “I write the way I used to read. I was an obsessive reader and now I’m an obsessive writer. For me, it’s a tremendous escape.” In an afterword, readers learn that the Pissarros fled from Paris to London in 1870 to escape the FrancoPrussian War, and when they returned to France, they found that their home had been used as a slaughterhouse, with 1500 paintings destroyed. Camille was an atheist and not interested in his Jewish heritage, perhaps because of the way his family was ostracized in St. Thomas. But during the Dreyfus Affair, when a Jewish captain was wrongly convicted of treason, he stood with those who supported Dreyfus, even losing some of his painter friends. Growing up with the children of slaves and as an outcast himself, he was always sympathetic to those considered outsiders.
Camille Pissarro never returned to the West Indies but, as Hoffman writes, “the island of St. Thomas and the people he knew there influenced his art, his philosophy, and his life.” Hoffman didn’t visit the island either in doing research; she preferred to envisage it in her imagination, untouched by anything modern. Sandee Brawarsky is an award-winning journalist and essayist. She is the book critic for the New York Jewish Week.
New publisher Fig Tree Books promises stories that get people talking. BY SUE TOMCHIN If you've been a member of a book club, you know how challenging it is to come up with books that will be readable and interesting to discuss. Fig Tree Books, a new publisher started by biotech entrepreneur (and avid reader) Fredric D. Price, publishes “quality novels and memoirs that chronicle and enlighten the unique American Jewish experience.” Also included on its list are reissues of provocative novels from the past, including Compulsion by Meyer Levin, with an introduction by famed O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark. JW spoke recently with Michelle Caplan, Fig Tree's editor-in-chief: What function does Fig Tree serve in the larger publishing world? Our focus is specifically the American Jewish experience, as opposed to novels about the Holocaust or other experiences of Jews throughout the world. That said, we don’t have to have novels that take place on American soil. Our debut novel, Safekeeping by Jessamyn Hope, explores human perseverance through the stories of six troubled characters, including an American Jew, whose lives intersect one summer on a kibbutz in Israel. But we are looking for some sort of an American perspective, whether from an authorial perspective or from the characters in the story. We hope our books serve as a springboard for conversations about religion, culture, race, and what it means to be a minority in America.
photo by Takeshi Kuboki
What do you look for in a manuscript? I want memorable storytelling that resonates with readers and will change the way people look at the world. We’re focused on books that are meaningful and get people talking. After our first list launched, we decided to broaden our mission to include memoirs, graphic novels, and novels geared to a young adult audience. But we still want big themes, brilliant writing and commercial appeal. I want every list to be as exciting and diverse as our inaugural list. When manuscripts come in, I immediately open them, trying to find more magical books. We reject books that don’t quite speak to the American Jewish experience or focus on any element of Jewish identity. It doesn’t have to be the entire focus of the book, but it has to have some real meaning. Throwing in a Yiddish word here and there isn’t enough for us.
How are people responding? We are excited with the reception from readers and the critical acclaim. We feel embraced as a new publishing house with a tight focus. In the fall we’re planning significant activities with book clubs and are reaching out to them, as well as synagogues, JCCs and other organizations to provide opportunities for our writers to interact with our audience. We hope to offer discounts for book clubs and JCCs. What excites you most about the books you're publishing? All of our books speak to important issues. An example of that is the The Book of Stone by Jonathan Papernick from our spring/summer list. It addresses the issue of homegrown terrorism but from a Jewish perspective. Jon writes about an educated Jewish boy who falls into this situation. It’s an exciting and controversial book, but also an important book. When are your next books coming out? In October, we’ll start our fall list with The Sea Beach Line, a novel by emerging New York writer Ben Nadler. It’s a coming-ofage novel reminiscent both of a 20th century pulp novel and a Hasidic tale. We’re also reissuing a classic – The Pawnbroker by Edward Lewis Wallant, which features a foreword from Dara Horn. This was one of the first novels to engage with the trauma of the Holocaust. It’s set in Harlem and explores the relationship between Jews and other American minority groups. Which Jewish book had the greatest impact on your life? The book that was most transformative for me was Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. There’s a reason kids are still reading the book after so many years. It covers Jewish identity, sexuality, and struggling with a belief in God – issues that you can talk about and work your way through. It changed me. I was about nine years old when I read it and I understood then that books can do more than give a little story and entertain. They can impact the way you engage with your life. JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Nine absorbing glimpses into womenâ€™s lives, both real and imagined BY SANDEE BRAWARSKY
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
arc Chagall is portrayed in a contemporary novel as veteran writer Gloria Goldreich imagines the life of Ida Chagall, the only daughter of the great painter in The Bridal Chair (Sourcebooks). The title refers to a painting he creates of an empty wedding chair, in disapproval of his daughter’s first love. Ida plays a pivotal role in getting both her parents and her father’s paintings to safety as the vise of Nazism tightens. Set during World War II, A Master Plan for Rescue by Janis Cooke Newman (Riverhead Books), is a historical novel about herosim and bearing witness, with intertwined stories of loss and the unlikely friendship between a child mourning a parent, and a refugee mourning the love he left behind. The Girl from the Garden, the debut novel by Parnaz Foroutan (HarperCollins), is the story of a wealthy Persian Jewish family in Iran, during the early part of the last century. Life inside the walled home and luxuriant gardens is seen through the eyes of women, as they experience traditional life, full of loss and sacrifice. Awarded PEN USA’s Emerging Voices award, the novel was inspired by the author’s family history, retold over generations. Foroutan was born in and spent her childhood in Iran, but now lives in Los Angeles. Her distinctive storytelling cadences open another world for the reader. While it’s difficult to recall whether there has been a novel having to do with tahara, the traditional ritual cleansing of a body before burial, this season there are two: Diana Bletter’s A Remarkable Kindness (Morrow) and Michelle Brafman’s Washing the
Dead (Prospect Park Books). Bletter’s novel tells of the loving friendship of four American women who have moved to Israel and get to know each other and their stories by serving on the Hevra Kadisha, or Holy Society, of people who prepare the dead for burial. In Brafman’s novel, her first, a woman is asked to perform the sacred task of tahara, which becomes an act of healing, cleansing and forgiveness. Brafman’s is a story of mothers and daughters and of the power of community and ritual, set in an Orthodox enclave. Chaya Deitsch’s Here and There: Leaving Hasidism, Keeping My Family (Schocken) is the latest book in the new genre of ex-Chasidic memoirs. This memoir is different from many others in that, even as she realizes that she doesn’t fit into the Lubavitcher world into which she was born and leaves it behind, Deitsch forges a complicated path of acceptance and understanding with her family, who continue to embrace her. In The Pawnbroker’s Daughter (Norton), a posthumous memoir by Maxine Kumin, the poet tells the story of her life from her childhood in Depression-era Philadelphia to Radcliffe College to a farm in rural New Hampshire, where much of her later work was set. Kumin fought to become a poet while raising her children and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize and serve as U.S. poet laureate. A feminist who was ever mindful of being Jewish, Kumin died in 2014. The Grammar of God by Aviya Kushner (Spiegel & Grau), a debut book, is a provocative and beautifully written memoir of faith, art and, yes, grammar. The daughter of an Israeli mother and an American father, Kushner
grew up in an observant family where the Hebrew Bible was read regularly and fiercely discussed. When she attended a Bible course at the Iowa Writers Workshop, she read the English version for the first time and was surprised. She found that much of the meaning and nuance of the Hebrew words – unveiled through understanding grammar – seemed to be lost in translation. She then spent 10 years collecting Bibles from around the world, comparing the language and hearing it anew. Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor (Avery) is a powerful story of resilience. The author, a PhD candidate in Jewish literature at Harvard and the author of a popular food blog called “Sweet Amandine,” is not the first to write a memoir with recipes, but hers is outstanding, for the fine writing, generous spirit and very appealing recipes. When she was 28, Fechtor was attending a conference and running on a gym treadmill when an aneurysm burst in her brain. She underwent difficult surgeries, many months of intensive care, lost her sense of smell and the sight in one eye and yet, to the surprise of many in the medical field, managed not only to survive but flourish. Being in the kitchen was a key part of her healing; baking and cooking familiar recipes helped her to move ahead, to remember the person she was and grow anew. She shares 27 recipes, including the almond macaroons that tasted like home, soups from people she loves, and baked apricots with cardamom pistachios. For Fechtor, “a detour became its own path.” Sandee Brawarsky is an award-winning journalist and essayist. She is the book critic for the New York Jewish Week.
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
Rumors of community leaders' inappropriate behavior need more than an ad hoc response. BY DEBORAH ROSENBLOOM
hen I read the article in the New York Times in May, detailing accusations against Rabbi Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Center (RJC), I was deeply saddened. This is the synagogue and community where I grew up. My parents moved to Riverdale in the 1950s and are among the RJC’s founding members. Rabbi Rosenblatt – like the four rabbis before him – played an important part in the life of my family. But the focus of my concerns is not the RJC or any one rabbi; rather, I am concerned with the institutions in which we place our trust – institutions that seem to ignore the simple fact that rabbis and teachers are human and subject to their own temptations and demons. We hold our leaders in high esteem, but our institutions fail to monitor them to assure that their power is not being abused, and that the esteem is merited. Whispers, like those from Riverdale, have been spread in dark corners of many communities over the years. Those whispers have been hushed by men who choose to protect the institution to the detriment of those it’s supposed to serve. Much like what happened at Penn State, often leaders demonstrate poor judgment, pretending that if they ignore the underlying problem or handle it quietly among themselves, the behavior will stop and the problems disappear. But today, social media amplifies whispers. Victims hear the whispers of other victims; awareness grows; what happens behind closed doors is exposed and headlined. I have seen this in my work at JWI; on college campuses, on football fields, even in the military, victims are speaking out. Our synagogues and rabbinical institutions need to wake up. Responding in secret or in an ad hoc manner – being reactive – does not work. This modus operandi inhibits response, discussion, and community resolution. Secret “solutions” end up not being secret or solutions. Rather than a resolution of an underlying problem, we see repeatedly that the accused relies on his relationships with powerful supporters, and together they spread the fear that scandal will be revealed. Time and again, the message to victims and communities is that only with silence can the institution be protected – in other words, that those who are victimized matter less than the institution itself. I was at the RJC on a recent Shabbat, down the street from where I grew up, visiting my parents, who still consider the RJC 64
JW Magazine | jwmag.org
to be home. We went to shul there, we went to school there, we served on committees and boards, shared countless meals, danced and wept together. This was our RJC community. We felt safe at the RJC. What an illusion, what a delusion. The very organizations – synagogues, community centers, schools – that should be protecting and nurturing constituents, instead seek to protect reputations that are no longer worth protecting. Reputations worth protecting are not made by marginalizing victims. The back room, hush-hush solution is inappropriate, dangerous and not even sustainable. We need policies and protocols for organizational responses to these situations. Make no mistake about it, despite all the vetting and background checks, fallible people will attain leadership roles and use their power for their own ends. We need processes to examine rumors with speed, transparency, and neutrality. We need guidelines that will reduce the risk of sexual harassment, abuse and assault by staff, lay leadership and volunteers, and we need a process for redress. This approach enables a neutral response free from the influence of wealthy donors or powerful members, as well as colleagues and former interns. Policies should reflect the character of the organization, but certainly some standard provisions should be included: 1) Anyone who feels victimized or is aware of any victimization must be able to speak with someone who has no personal stake in the institution – for example, a social worker, therapist, lawyer or all of the above on retainer to the institution; 2) Any investigation must be done by a third party, not a member of the institution; 3) Rules for communication and confidentiality must be established and followed; 4) All lay and professional leadership must be trained on the rules of mandated reporting in their jurisdiction; 5) Educational and prevention programs should be made available to the membership; 6) Relationships should be established and maintained with a local sexual assault response agency as well as local law enforcement. Institutions responsible for protecting and nurturing our communities must focus on protecting those who are in their charge and not on protecting those who are in charge. Deborah Rosenbloom, J.D./M.P.A., is JWI's vice president of programs & new initiatives.
1 in 3 teens experiences
emotional or verbal
abuse from a
dating partner. Most victims tell no one.
TEENS NEED TO TALK. Learn how to start the conversation at jwi.org/datingabuse
philanthropy empowerment advocacy education
10 Women to Watch; Confidence Counts; Longing for Lingerie (That Fits); Classic Jewish Recipes, Reimagined; The (Jewish) Mother of the Fathe...
Published on Aug 24, 2015
10 Women to Watch; Confidence Counts; Longing for Lingerie (That Fits); Classic Jewish Recipes, Reimagined; The (Jewish) Mother of the Fathe...