Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas explained by Jews

From BuzzFeed

FYI...below is a mezuzah. It holds a piece of parchment that has written upon it a special part of Deuteronomy declaring the Oneness of God. It is nailed to the front door post, as commanded in Deuteronomy. The container can be anything you want it to be. For that there are no set rules.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

GETT, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

The Golden Globes have announced their list of foreign film nominees. One film they chose is by Israeli filmmakers Shlomi and Ronit Elkabetz. It tells the tale of Vivianne Amsalem a woman seeking to divorce her husband in Israel. Marriage and divorce for Jewish citizens in Israel are governed by Orthodox Jewish law. Under Jewish law only a man can divorce his wife. A woman has no say. When a man refuses to grant his wife a divorce (a GETT) she becomes an "agunah," or a chained woman. She can not remarry, she cannot have children with another man for fear that they will be considered mamzarim, or bastards, and be forced to live their lives on the fringes of Jewish society. Meanwhile, a man without a GETT can take a common law wife and their children will have no stigma attached.

It is important to remember that when these laws were written governing divorce and marriage in the Biblical Jewish world, they were leaps and bounds above anything that was practiced by their neighbors. In fact it continued that way until our modern era. The problem is that now in our 21st century world we have come to see that women and men are equals and entitled to run their lives as they see fit. Women are no longer chattel, the property of their husbands. So the entire idea of sublimating your right to freedom, we find anathema to who we are as modern civilized people. But for some they have no choice in the matter and it is part and parcel of their existence.

This movie details what happens to one such agunah and how the courts allow her to be abused by her husband. It is an indictment of the Israeli divorce courts. Activists hope that it will lead to a revamping of the divorce courts and may lead the way for civil marriage and divorce in Israel.

It is important to note that Orthodox, Conservative and even some Reform Jews around the world follow the rules associated with the GETT. In fact the situation with agunahs had become so problematic here in the US that New York State passed a law requiring a Jewish husband who has been divorced in a civil court from his wife to give her a GETT, or risk fines and imprisonment.

One of the more prominent agunah issues here in the USA is the Friedman case where a rabbinical court has even held the husband in contempt for not granting his wife a GETT. It came to prominence because of the public admonishment against the husband, an aide to whose a Michigan congressman. Something that had not been done before and was considered controversial at the time. Personally, I had a girlfriend whose exhusband would not give her a GETT unless the family paid him a ransom (which they did). This too is a very popular ploy. Recently four New Jersey rabbis have been sent to prison for kidnapping and beating recalcitrant husbands who refused to grant their wives a GETT.

It does seem foolish that here in the US any woman wouldn't just move on and live her life, as there is nothing here stopping her. But for those who wish to remain religious and continue living within their communities it is an essential part of existence.  Personally I don't understand it. But that is just my perspective. Perhaps the rest of their Orthodox life has alot of meaning for them and its only this piece that they find problematic.

Perhaps in today's world the rabbis who interpret Jewish law may want to take a look at what has come before and revamp it so that it is respectful to and understanding of the humanity of women. It is better than public shaming, kidnapping and blackmail, for certain.

Meanwhile, for those who are religious who would like some support go to Organization for the Resolution of Agunot.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Marsala, 2015 Color of the Year

The design mavens over at Pantone have decided that the coming year's color is Masala. This deep wine color is thought to be the perfect compliment to any rich and sophisticated design. You be the judge.

They discuss their decision and provide color pairings  HERE.

Personally, I do like the color. It brings to mind the rich hues for autumn and winter. However, I am not certain that I would wear it when spring and summer came around. I also would not use it to decorate if I wanted a light and breezy feel to a room. Of course if I did, that would just mean a new reason to redecorate or to cull your wardrobe and go shopping. So there is that bit of fun.....

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Red Tent comes to Lifetime

There are some books that have a profound effect upon your soul. The Red Tent was one such book for me. Now finally it comes to television. Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, was given one line in the Bible. Here is her life story as imagined by author Anita Diamant. On Lifetime December 7 and 8 at 9pm.

I also highly recommend that you get the book and read it. There is something very magical in the words themselves.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Teaser trailer.....

Now we have to wait a year. Wonder how many people will camp out and how far in advance of the first movie. We should take bets. Of course I shouldn't cast aspersion. When Star Wars Episode 6 came out, the hubby and I went and lined up hours before the first showing, right after my last first year law school final. It was on property law by the way.

Now of course, the fanboys (by the way don't you just find that word just a tad sexist, as if fangirls don't exist. Being one of course.) today are so much more obsessive then we ever were. But then again these young'uns today seem alot more obsessive about alot of things that we simply either let slide or took as minimal reality as we marched on in pursuit of whatever we were pursing at the time.

Yes, I have become Socrates:

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”