Purim – Celebrating Women!

Purim in Israel looks like Halloween on the outside – costumes, parties, drinking – but it’s actually the celebration of a woman who saves the Jewish people. Coincidentally, I saw Captain Marvel and On the Basis of Sex this month, which happens to be Women’s History Month. If you know anything about the story of Purim, you’ll know that that is also a story full of coincidences.

Unapologetically Feminine

What I found interesting in these three stories is that Esther, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Carol Danvers succeeded in a man’s world without forcing themselves to become masculine. Moreover, their inner spark and strength was hidden in plain sight. Esther was a beauty pageant winner and queen. She followed the rules and requirements of her position, and found a way to avert the genocide of her people. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a wife and mother, valued her family above all, followed societal rules, and still excelled in everything she did (except cooking; she’s terrible at it). Carol Danvers joined the Air Force, became a fighter pilot, and, in typical superhero style, was infused with the most powerful energy in the universe. At first glance, she seems “masculine,” but she leads with her heart and one “friend” calls her emotions a weakness. Rather than a weakness, she finds on her journey that they are her strength. The best feminist line is when she is set to fight a guy she thought was a mentor and a friend. He knows he can’t beat her powers, so he challenges her fist to fist, no weapons, to prove herself to him (he knows he can win). She shoots him with photon blasts from her hands. As he wakes, he sees her surrounded by sunlight and she says, “I don’t have to prove anything to you.”

Encouraging Allies

In Hero(ine) Journey style, Esther, Ruth, and Carol have an ally. The ally is not just a partner, but is a person who reminds our heroine who she is and helps her fulfill her destiny by lifting her up and acknowledging and celebrating her strengths and easing her weaknesses. Esther had Uncle Mordechai. He raised her, helped her win the pageant, coincidentally stopped an assassination attempt, and kept her in touch with her roots and her people. Ruth Bader Ginsburg had her husband Marty. He was her partner in life: an involved father and husband, a supporter of every choice, a peacemaker, and he was also quite a good cook. Carol Danvers had her best friend Maria Rambeau to remind her who she is and what her true strengths are and Nick Fury to help her navigate Earth of the 1990s and fight bad guys.

Stories for Women and Men in the Real World

Women can be inspired and fulfill their destinies. Men can see what true allies look like so that they can move forward by lifting women up instead of pushing them down to soothe their own egos. Armie Hammer who plays Martin Ginsburg said that he could never live up to the standards set by his character, but it was something to aspire to. He says (on The Graham Norton Show): “I think the model of their marriage and their relationship was the basis of the gender equality that Ruth later sought during her entire legal career.”

At the same time, I’m sickened by the news coming out of South Korea right now of Korean pop singers sharing hidden camera videos of their sexcapades, procuring prostitutes for investment schemes, and other crimes. This week a live streaming hidden camera site spying on 1,600 people having sex in their motel rooms was exposed. Under the banner of “My Life Is Not Your Porn” Korean women started taking to the streets last summer to highlight the phenomenon of cameras hidden in changing rooms and public bathrooms. This led to an effort to sweep public restrooms on a regular basis to check for spycams. I hope Korean women can find inspiration from a real person like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a possibly real person in their history like Jews have in Queen Esther, and if all else fails, they can take inspiration from the most powerful superhero in the Marvel universe, Captain Marvel. And from these stories, Korean men can learn to be allies instead of misogynists.

In every reading of the Purim story, we can learn a new lesson. Let’s let this year’s lessons be:

  • Women are strong
  • Sometimes only a woman can save everyone
  • Step by step, with patience and determination, women can change the world

The movies are very good, not the best I’ve ever seen, but they are definitely stories worth telling and sharing.

*This post is inspired in part by this article.

And now for something completely different

I don’t want to talk about the situation in Israel.  It’s not that I’m ignoring it or pretending that it’s not going on all around me, but I feel like constant attention to the news and repeatedly thinking about the events of the day is just causing a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The problem for Israel is that it is a collective PTSD causing itchy trigger fingers and shameful mob mania.

Instead, this is going to be about how I dealt with the stress this week.


I had seen mandala coloring pages and books in art stores for a while, but I wasn’t inspired enough to give it a try.  Then my friend M. invited me to a morning meditation with mandalas.  I have to admit I’m not a good meditator.  I’ve had good experiences once in a while, but I mostly suffer from what is commonly called “monkey brain.”  Thoughts pass into my mind, start making coffee and then go into an acrobatic routine.

A few minutes of research on the net and I found that adult coloring is a thing.  Mandalas are also a thing.  Coloring mandalas is a growing thing.  It’s not about staying in the lines or purposefully coloring outside the lines.  It’s not about how beautiful or artistic the mandala should be / could be / would be if you had more talent. It’s about focus, being in the moment, and just enjoying the now.

So now I have my own book and various coloring implements so that I have options.

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Work in progress

Work in progress

Turning back the clock


The stuff on the left is what I actually bought. The stuff on the right is all the samples!

Three words:  Korean. Beauty. Products. My friend C. introduced me first to Korean dramas and now she’s brought me into the fascinating and ultimately pleasurable world of Korean beauty products.  Rather than write a treatise on the various essences, serums, toners, cleansers, and masks, suffice it to say, it seems that in the past month and a half of making a bigger effort, 5 years have disappeared from my face.

My first foray into the beauty products line was in Romania, so I’ve been using things I bought there.  This week, my first package from Korea arrived!  Yay!

Ladies night – out on the town

In honor of my birthday (a month ago), S. and C. took me out on the town last night.  (That’s right. In the middle of the knife intifada.)  We went to place called Gatsby.  It’s set up like a speak-easy, so upon entering, you are in a tiny room facing a wall-to-wall bookshelf.  With the right code words – something along the lines of “my friend is inside” or “I have a reservation” – the middle panel slides over and you get your first peek at the 1920s style bar.

Gatsby entrance

Gatsby entrance

They play the feel-good crooner oldies of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.  The handsome barman is dressed like he just jumped out of a 1940s movie and has enough flair to make drinks that involve fire.  The food menu is limited and the drink menu seems to be limited to whatever Gatsby might drink.  I had a mint julep served in an iced metal cup.  S. had something called Made in Israel (would Gatsby drink that?).  C. nearly fell off her chair when they wouldn’t serve her a Cosmo, but eventually settled for a whiskey sour.  The food was stylized and delicious.  I would have taken pictures but the place was too dark.

Gatsby doesn’t serve dessert.  Where is Daisy when you really need her?  So we crossed the street to Berta’s where we had something called a Hedgehog, a chocolate indulgence that makes you forget all your problems, and an apple pie that makes you feel all warm and snuggly.  I topped it all off with a chai latte.

Hedgehog and apple pie

Hedgehog and apple pie

And what’s a night out on the town without presents?  S. and C. know me so well.  A few things to add to my relaxation regimen.  Thanks, ladies!

Tea, shortbread, and collagen serum.

Tea, shortbread, and collagen serum.

How I learned to stop worrying and love technology

I was originally going to title this week’s post “Summer’s over: Back to the war, I mean, school.”  That more or less sums up this week in Israel.  Kids went back to school on September 1.  Then there were rockets fired from Gaza (fyi, they landed in Gaza).  Five American yeshiva students took a wrong turn into Hebron and were nearly lynched (a Palestinian protected them and they were rescued by the IDF). A law was passed that has a clause in it that forbids journalists from including their opinion in newscasts.  They may take that to the Supreme Court, but it is certainly an interesting development.

All in all, it was a crazy week in Israel.

I don’t have kids.  I don’t live near Gaza or Hebron.  I’m not a journalist, so I’ll state my opinion if I want to.  Instead, this week I jumped on a fascinating, amazing technological wonder.

Anyone who knows me would never describe me as an early adopter.  I got a smart phone after everyone I knew already had one.  I got a tablet only after at least half the people I knew told me how great it was.  Truth be told, I like pen and paper.

And yet.

I like Korean dramas (k-drama).  Those dramas led me to Korean pop music (k-pop).  I don’t speak Korean, so I have to find streaming sites that include subtitles.  Those searches led to sites in English about Korean pop culture.  And those led me to the fabulous world of Korean technology.

This week I downloaded an app on my phone that lets popular Korean musicians and actors broadcast live via the internet directly to their fan base and interact with them by responding to viewer comments in real time.  As of today, 51 artists have their own channels – though it doesn’t mean they all have broadcasts yet – and the list is growing.

The most important icon on my phone right now

The most important icon on my phone right now

The broadcasts are saved and most of them are eventually subtitled.  A couple of my favorites have their own channels already and I’m hooked.

But what’s really amazing to me is the whole phenomenon.  This is interactive reality TV speaking to a generation of kids who swim in technology (and me, though I’m not a kid who swims in technology).  Korean artists tend to be well-mannered and incredibly sweet and so it seems there is a genuine desire to connect personally with their fan base and this is the newest, slickest, most personalized way to do it.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other apps I’ve probably never heard of are left in the dust when your favorite actor/musician is having FaceTime with millions of fans simultaneously.

Think about this:  A famous band (choose your generation’s most famous) fills a theater, a stadium, a giant field.  They go on a world tour.  They sell albums.  They are on TV and radio, get fan mail, interact with fans on the internet in various formats.

Now picture this:  The lead singer of a famous Korean band broadcasts for 30 minutes and the broadcast is saved (and subtitled within a day).  Within 2 days the broadcast has received over 23 million hearts (you can send more than one) and over 800 thousand comments.  In that particular broadcast, the lead singer asked people to send their phone numbers and he actually called two fans and chatted with them.

Obviously, the real-time personal connection to everyone in the world simultaneously will help the bands and actors make a gazillion dollars.  This is the natural next level of fan service.  And at the same time, this conveniently located app on my phone is a TV channel with a schedule and video-on-demand.

Will this be a revolution in interactive real-time viewing?  Who knows.  This app has only been out for a short while.  All I know for sure is that it is a hell of a lot more fun than watching the news in Israel.