Sunday, 9 September 2012
Their names have not been released yet, but a mother has been taken to court by her ex-husband for wanting to give their children more opportunities for a secular education. No doubt the story is messier than this brief article but what's most interesting to me is that, according to the report, the mother decided on this approach after she attended an Open University course. This certainly feeds into the fear of university and strong-willed women that pervades the charedi world, but she must have realised that denying her children a secular education would leave them unskilled, unemployable and unable to choose how to live their lives.
I like to be inspired before Rosh Hashana and look for words that force me to reflect upon my life and resolve to be a better person in the coming year. That's why I was so grateful that the United Synagogue published its Top Tips on the women's section of their website. Extraordinary to think that they have managed to boil it all down to getting your hat right.
Thursday, 6 September 2012
Due to modest demands on other aspects of my life, I have not been blogging as regularly as I had hoped. With Mr Blase's encouragement, that's about to change and you'll be reading more of me. Here's a few choice tidbits of things going on recently....
Iranian medallist refuses to shake hand of Duchess of Cambridge
When paraolympian Mehrdad Karam Zadeh moved forward to receive his silver medal, the demure Duchess of Cambridge gently placed it around his neck and took a couple of steps backwards. He bowed reverentially and put his hands to his heart in a show of appreciation. There was no handshaking and no air kissing. It was totally respectful and actually quite refreshing. There was a bit of a media fuss, but it quickly dissipated after newspaper reports suggested that Kate had been briefed on Iranian cultural codes that forbids physical contact between men and women who are not related to each other. A bit like us really - Israeli politicians and public intellectuals are familiar with these codes of conduct - when the talented Or Asuel won the Bible Quiz in 2010, PM Netanyahu understood that shaking her hand would be inappropriate and he deftly handed her the winner's trophy instead. There's something refreshing about those who understand that the frisson of a momentary touch is something to be savored, and not handed out like candies at a children's party.
Pink pens for the girls
Bic has developed a range of gender sensitive writing materials. Perhaps they were taking a lesson from Lego, the company that targets young girls with a set of 224 LEGO pink pieces from their Bricks and More range. Up-market store Selfridges suggests "you can create your very own pretty pink world with car, house and cute dog" Clearly their copywriter was using one of those Bic pens. Mothers - watch out for any seminaries suggesting that your daughters arrive with their own set of pink pens.
Va Va Voom in Venice
Frum filmmaker, Rama Burshtein, is all wrapped up in Venice while one of the leading ladies leaves her modesty at home. Fill the Void, Burshtein's film set in the haredi community of Tel Aviv, sounds very evocative. Replete in a very modest embellished gown and matching head piece, Burshtein walked confidently along the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival, accompanied by a man presumed to be her husband. One of the young stars of the film chose to wear something much more revealing than her film costume of long sleeved shirt and below-the-knee skirt. A bit of shame really - it would have been a modesty coup for the frum fashion industry. However, I am most intrigued by Mr (Rabbi?) Burshtein - I just love the fact he turned up in Venice in his long black coat, large hat and untrimmed beard, seemingly unfazed by the gliterrati, but there to support his wife. So cool, so Blase.