Though appalled, I laughed when I first heard about Rabbi Barry Freundel. How he hid cameras in the mikveh to watch his congregants and conversion protégés undress and prepare for ritual immersion. The image that came to my mind was that of the boy in my third grade class who tried to peek up my skirt. How puerile, I thought. And then there’s the newly reported matter of Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt and his habit of inviting young men to play racquetball and then join him in the sauna, naked, in order to conduct “sichot nefesh,” the serious discussion about matters of the heart. A bit creepy, no?
It’s one thing for religious fundamentalist leaders – whether Jewish, Muslim, or Christian – to preach that limiting the freedom and independence of women is acceptable in the name of preserving traditional values, and for women in their communities to voluntarily submit to such restrictions.
Late last week, Emma Sulkowicz, the recent Columbia graduate who spent her last year of college with her mattress strapped to her back, released a new rape-related performance piece to the public, titled “Ceci N’est Past Un Viol (This Is Not A Rape)”. Hosted on its own webpage, and existing entirely on the internet, the piece is a complex, and well-constructed, participatory art piece that, while at first glance may seem overtly literal and perhaps juvenile, is actually quite sophisticated and brilliant. While the piece consists of three parts, you’ve probably only heard of one: a “sex tape” that loosely simulates Emma’s alleged rape in August of 2012. What you probably haven’t paid attention to are the other, equally vital, parts of the piece: an introductory text that explains the video/makes requests about the audience’s participation and an open comment section.
Shirley Sotloff, whose son, Steven, was beheaded last year by Islamic State militants, spoke of her son’s life and legacy at the Newseum in Washington DC on Monday.
Gemma “the Jet” Kirby can fly. In fact, it’s her job. As the youngest female human cannonball with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme, the 25-year-old dynamo hurtles through the air at every performance. She’s also the only Jewish cannonballer currently with the traveling troupe.