Author Archives: Tamar Fox

Jews: Still Rich

This entry was posted in Culture, Life on by .

Are you a Reform Jew? Yes? Can I borrow $5,000? I only ask because a new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that:

Sixty-seven percent of Reform Jewish households made more than $75,000 a year at the time the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life collected the data, compared with only 31 percent of the population as a whole. Hindus were second, at 65 percent, and Conservative Jews were third, at 57 percent.

Full story

There’s also an infographic, but to be honest, I find it somewhat difficult to read.

The Times also has a succinct analysis of why Jews have so much dough:

Many factors are behind the discrepancies among religions, but one stands out. The relationship between education and income is so strong that you can almost draw a line through the points on this graph. Social science rarely produces results this clean.

Hm. Maybe I should go hit the books.

Posted on May 17, 2011

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Do You “Like” My Name?

This entry was posted in Culture, Israel on by .

A couple in Israel recently decided to name one of their children Like, because of liking things on facebook. They have two other children. One is named Dvash (which means honey) and the other is named Pie (as in strawberry rhubarb).

I might be the only person in the world who doesn’t have an issue with Gwenyth Paltrow naming her kid Apple, but I was horrified by the whole Monroe and Moroccan disaster, and I have to take a stand here and say that this is an absolute shanda. I understand wanting a unique name for your child, but this is not an acceptable option. But perhaps I should be more succinct: DISLIKE.

Also, if you’re looking for some Jewish baby names, try Kveller.com.

Posted on May 16, 2011

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JDate and a Holocaust Movie

This entry was posted in Culture, History on by .

Jdate is sponsoring a new program that’s something like a Jewish Film of the Month club. You can get a Jewish film sent to you on DVD or via streaming once every other month. Now, on the surface I can see how this seemed like a natural partnership. Jewish dating, Jewish movies, of course they go to together. Except that the second movie they plan to send out is:

Protektor,” a Czech film about a journalist who tries to safeguard his Jewish wife by working for a radio station that broadcasts Nazi propaganda.


Forgive me, but I just don’t think of Holocaust movies as being particularly conducive to dating. There’s the infamous Seinfeld episode where he makes out during Schindler’s List, and I’ve heard Kate Winslet is really hot in The Reader, but still, nothing gets me not turned on like Nazis.

As far as I know you can’t buy this club at the same time as you buy a Jdate membership, but I just want to remind everyone involved that it doesn’t bode well for relationships or dates to begin with SS guards. Word to the wise.

Posted on May 13, 2011

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They Have to Be Carefully Taught

This entry was posted in Culture, Life on by .

A ten-year-old boy shot his father to death two weeks ago. The father was a politically active neo-Nazi, who was carefully grooming his children to be Nazis. The New York Times spoke with the boy the day before the shooting, and noted that he showed off a Nazi insignia belt his father had gotten him.

There aren’t a lot of details on the case yet. The Times reports:

The boy is expected to appear in court later this month; he has been charged as a juvenile with murder, and his public defender said he might plead insanity. The boy and a younger sister had been the subject of a bitter custody battle with Mr. Hall’s first wife, with a series of allegations of abuse on each side. But Mr. Hall had eventually been granted legal custody.

On Saturday, a group of Mr. Hall’s followers gathered in Southern California to mourn their leader. One, an N.S.M. official who asked not to be identified because of the attention Mr. Hall’s death had brought to the group, said that the rallies would continue, and that Mr. Hall’s ashes would be spread on the border during a patrol. The boy was not mentioned.

“Today was all about Jeff, how he would want us to carry on,” the official said. “Nobody was looking for answers.”

I won’t revel in this man’s murder. He seems like a truly wicked person, but also a truly pathetic one. All I can really think of is that song from South Pacific about how hatred has to be carefully taught:

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

Posted on May 11, 2011

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Circus+Jewish Mafia+Gay Affairs+Shiva Fight+Toy Poodle

This entry was posted in Culture, Life on by .

Sometimes when I need to laugh I search for Jewish in Google News. Often I get boring articles about Israel, but every once in a while I get a gem of a headline like this one:

Feuding Ringling Circus heirs go to court over funeral fight amid claims of Jewish Mafia links, secret gay affairs and suicide

You really need to read the entire article, but here are my two favorite paragraphs:

Miss Feld claims that her brother’s vendetta against her led to his ordering guards to throw her and her toy poodle Campari out of their Aunt Shirley’s penthouse in Washington, where they were brought up after their mother’s suicide.

In papers sent to the court, Miss Feld also alleges that her brother may be a member of ‘Jewish mafia’ involved in money laundering and murder.

Will someone please please option this story for a screenplay? I would pay so much money to go see this movie. Water for Elephants, not so much.

Posted on May 3, 2011

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In Which British Royalty Reminds Me Of High School

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

I went to an Orthodox Jewish high school with a strict dress code. Long skirts, high necked shirts, sleeves to your elbow, and a somewhat flexible policy about writing on shirts. Boys had to wear collared shirts. The idea was to preserve modesty, but we lady-students saw the dress code as a challenge, not a safety rail. What does it really mean that a skirt has to go below your knees? Where does a knee really end? When you say my shirt needs to fall no lower than two finger widths below my clavicle, whose finger widths are we using? Because some people have very wide fingers, rabbi.

Anyway, I was thinking about my wily ways with the dress code this morning when I watched the royal wedding (yes, I got up at 5:45am to watch the second hour of programming. Judge away but it was deliciously fun). The dress code for the church was “uniform, morning coat or lounge suit” for men, and it’s apparently implicit that in a church in England women must cover their shoulders and their heads. And just like my friends and me in high school, the guests at the wedding had some really interesting interpretations of the dress code. The hats particularly were  impressive. And by impressive, I mean weird. Very weird.

(The married lady teachers at my high school wore hats, and there were three basic kinds–the lampshade hat, the snood, the hippie hat.)

View a gallery of the wedding hats here. But here are the two that win my Ida Crown Jewish Academy Prize for creative interpretation of the word “hat”:

Posted on April 29, 2011

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Never Ever?

This entry was posted in Beliefs, Culture, Life on by .

Jewish ladies, we have to talk. Apparently on OkCupid, more than 20% of you are claiming that you’ve never masturbated.


To you, I have this to say: not lying is in the Ten Commandments, and not masturbating for ladies is nowhere at all in the Torah.

Posted on April 29, 2011

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The Best Thing I Read This Pesach

This entry was posted in History on by .

If you don’t have enough to do this Passover, let us help — you can read some erotic poetry, learn about a valley of dry bones, and, of course…eat some matzah.

Something else you may want to do is continue to talk about the story of the exodus, and what it means to transition from slavery to freedom.

To that end, I offer you this letter, written by a former slave named Jourdan Anderson in 1865. It’s the most profound and smart reflection on freedom I’ve ever come across, and it’s also hilarious. (And yes, it’s real.) Happy Passover!

Dayton, Ohio, August 7, 1865

To My Old Master, Colonel P. H. Anderson,

Big Spring, Tennessee

Sir: I got your letter and was glad to find you had not forgotten Jourdan, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Col. Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville hospital, but one of the neighbors told me Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here; I get $25 a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy (the folks here call her Mrs. Anderson), and the children, Milly, Jane and Grundy, go to school and are learning well; the teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday-School, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated; sometimes we overhear others saying, “Them colored people were slaves” down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks, but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Col. Anderson. Many darkies would have been proud, as I used to was, to call you master. Now, if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free-papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department at Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you are sincerely disposed to treat us justly and kindly and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years and Mandy twenty years. At $25 a month for me, and $2 a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to $11,680. Add to this the interest for the time our wages has been kept back and deduct what you paid for our clothing and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams Express, in care of V. Winters, esq, Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night, but in Tennessee there was never any pay day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.

In answering this letter please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve and die if it comes to that than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood, the great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.

P.S.—Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

From your old servant,

Jourdan Anderson

In case you’re wondering, adjusted for inflation, Anderson is asking his employer for $164,391.

For more about Passover and the civil war see our articles about seders during the civil war and immediately afterward.

Posted on April 22, 2011

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Things I Found Cleaning for Passover This Year

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

Listerine that expired in 2007
A set of acne medications prescribed to someone no one in my apartment had ever met
An apple peeler in the hall closet
Family photos of someone I’ve never met
A pen in the toaster
A book about the Shidduch Crisis
A pillow in a garbage bag

A happy and clean Passover to all!

Posted on April 18, 2011

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Waste on Passover

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

I have always been a Passover hater. There aren’t that many of us, but what we lack in numbers we make up for in fervor.

There are really lots of things on my list of reasons why Passover makes me angry:

–two seders is too many
–here’s an opportunity to trick people into buying expensive things they don’t need
–would you like some cardboard with your cholesterol?
–let’s read a poem about sex and pretend it’s about God
–and let’s clean the entire house, and then spend a week eating the world’s messiest food all over the place

but this year, number one on the list is the amount of waste that goes along with this holiday.

In general, we see an extraordinary amount of waste in our everyday lives. Food waste, which is upsetting if you think about the number of hungry people in the world, but also just a lack of thought about what happens to garbage once it leaves your garbage can. Until we start shooting our trash into outer space we have to make our peace with the fact that there’s finite amount of space in the world for the things we throw out, which means we need to throw out less.

In the observant world, as Passover approaches people begin to purge their homes and kitchens of hametz. This is done, to some degree, via using up non-Pesach friendly items before Pesach, but it also ends up meaning that many people go through their fridges in the days before Passover and toss out odds and ends they might have actually eaten if they’d had the chance. There is undoubtedly a feeling of liberation that comes with purging your fridge, but unless you’re able to get someone to come and take the last few tablespoons of mustard, the heel of cheese, the half bottle of pomegranate juice you never liked, then what you’re doing is just throwing lots of things out–being wasteful.

And it doesn’t end with the preparations. Once the holiday begins we’ll all be eating immense holiday meals, for which there is very likely going to be lots of leftovers. Will the leftovers be finished? If not, that’s more food going in the trash. (And remember, this is a holiday about the hardships of slavery, which includes hunger. We say, “Let all who are hungry come and eat” and then we toss perfectly good food into the trash. I’m just saying.)

Let’s also talk about Passover dishes. Do you have some? Or, are you planning on going the paper/plastic route? Since I’ll be back at my apartment for the last days of Passover I’ve bought a couple of basic cooking utensils, and I’m planning to get a set of Preserve dishes and silverware, but even this is more wasteful than just using real plates. And getting a set of real plates to use for three days a year also seems pretty wasteful. You may notice that lots of families just skip the Pesach dishes thing entirely and go 100% disposable for Pesach. I understand the instinct, but the amount of trash that produces is really upsetting.

Finally, when Passover is over and you still have half a jar of Passover tomato sauce, are you going to use it? Or will it go in the trash when it’s more attractive and enticing non-Pesadik cousin can come back into the rotation? Growing up, the Pesach products were rarely finished by the end of the holiday, and were often kept around with the best of intentions until they grew mold, and we could feel okay about tossing them.

I just think it’s deeply problematic to have a holiday about liberation from slavery that somehow involves all of us creating vast amounts of waste. “Woooo, we’re free, let’s pollute and throw trash wherever we want because no one can stop us!

In conclusion: Pesach sucks.

Posted on April 15, 2011

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