I spent Shabbos relaxing and enjoying The Jewish Press when I cam across an article , “Loud, Obnoxious And Shallow: Hollywood’s Portrayal of Jewish Women”, by Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, and I couldn’t agree with him more. This past January, Susie Essman promoted her role in “Loving Leah” the mother of a Torah observant woman that marries her non Torah observant brother-in-law on “The View”. She insulted the dress of chassidic women on national television. She plays a Jewish wife and mother on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, now we know what she really thinks. If you’re not familiar with her character, she is the shallow, status conscious Jewish wife to Larry David’s agent and best friend. This is just one of the many negative stereotypes Jewish women have portrayed on large screens frequently around the world. I must admit, before I was a BT (Baal teshuva), I also thought that Jewish women (excluding those in my family) were like Susie Essman’s character on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. That changed when I participated in a Shabbat meal in Tsfat, Israel (part of Livnot U’lehibanot). I met the kindest, put-together, non-judgemental, Jewish mother, and wife I’ve ever met. I was so inspired by her demeanor that I was like, “I’ll have what she’s having”. This is the kind of Jewish experience my Neshama (soul) craved. And her husband, a real mensch, full of respect for his wife. It was love at first site, I wanted that relationship and respect in my marriage.
It is exactly that experience that made me so thankful to be a Jewish woman, and potentially a wife and mother. Baruch Hashem, I went back to Israel and studied full-time at She’arim, Har Nof, Jerusalem, and the rest is history. I am now, Baruch Hashem, a wife, mother, and Torah Observant Jew. My home is always open to people who need a meal, both Torah Observant and Non-Torah Observant men and women. I want them to experience what I had at that Shabbos meal in Tsfat ten years earlier.
I hope this article will reach the unreachable and open their eyes to the Jewish mothers and wives that speak without shouting, do without expecting, and give without taking. Jewish women have a lot to be proud of (Esther, Sarah, Rachel, Rivkah, etc.) It’s right here in our DNA, after all, the Jewish people “are a light unto the nations”.
As we embark upon Passover, the most celebrated Jewish holiday, Jewish families should remove the (Chametz) dough from their homes and consume only unleavened dough (Matzah) for eight days. Yes, it is flat, but the spiritual benefits are bountiful. How can this be possible? In a post from chabad.org, the signifigance of eating Matzah on Passover is because, “The characteristic of leavened dough (Chametz) is that it rises and swells, symbolizing pride and boastfulness. A Matzah, on the other hand, is thin and flat, suggesting meekness and humility. Passover teaches us that Chametz – arrogance – is the very antithesis of the ideal of Torah”.
As we bite into our Hillel sandwiches and devour the Afikomen this Passover, let’s remember where we came from and how we were brought out of our enslavement. Let’s free ourselves from Jewish stereotypes in the media, and the world will see our true essence.