Friday, June 29, 2007

Hey, someone found me by googling "Demon Amulets!"

I can't figure out what it is that they found, but maybe I should put some other wacko topics into the blog, (Ummm, I'm having a hard time beating "demon amulets" for wacko, though) and write post titles like "Sex, sex, sex!" or something like that.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

In the "What if I had a daughter" files

String Bikinis: Now Available for Toddlers!

The Arizona Republic is reporting that Gap Kids now offers a crochet string bikini for 1 year-olds. What?

GapKids recently featured a white, crocheted string bikini you'd likely see Anna Kournikova wearing on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. The bikini was for a 12-month-old.

Racks at Target held several bathing suits perfect for a Hawaiian Tropic bikini competition. The crocheted and camouflage-designed suits started at Size 4 in the little girls' section.

Inseams on "classic" shorts at stores such as Abercrombie Kids and Hollister Co. are microscopic. And halter tops, shirts often lauded by fashion consultants for their ability to enhance a less-than-voluptuous chest, are everywhere for every age.

Moms hoping to find anything even mildly modest have to be happy Bermuda shorts are trendy again.

We don't have kids or (much) younger sisters or nieces or anything, so we have no idea if this article is exaggerating, but it claims that parents are resorting to sewing their children's clothes themselves because they can't find non-slutty duds for their elementary school kids. Is this true?

Article quoted from The Consumerist

Articles like this are not really a surprise to me - I know my friends who have young daughters are at their wits' ends, trying to find clothing for 6, 7, 8, let alone 10 year olds, that aren't completely vulgar (let alone older daughters, who themselves have been submerged by their peers into a mindset where incredibly indecent clothing is considered to be "what to wear") without going off the deep end into frummy-ville clothing. But honestly, maybe there's something to it.

Here's a quote from the original article:
From spaghetti straps for preschoolers to ultra-miniskirts on tweens, girls clothing is getting noticeably skimpier.

Kid-magnet chains, including Limited Too and Abercrombie Kids, as well as discount stores such as Target are focusing their marketing efforts on a much younger demographic, luring young girls into ensembles that in years past had been reserved for their teenage sisters.

...Leavy said the clothing trend is only piggybacking off pop culture and the toy industry, where Bratz dolls have spun off Baby Bratz and celebrities such as Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan have grown up much faster than the fans who follow them.

..."We all think about the JonBenet Ramsey thing (the 6-year-old beauty-pageant veteran whose killing remains unsolved) and look at how obscene it was," Istook said, "and we're all shocked, but, really, it's pretty common for kids to dress like that all the time."

T-shirts and tanks are cut slimmer. Shorts are shorter. Makeup for tweens, once controlled by the sheer colors of Bonne Belle, is glittery and glossy, marketed as of-the-moment must-haves.

Think that's enough, well how about this? "Mattel has announced that it will start a makeup line targeting young girls. In the wake of the company's recently launched Barbie-themed online social networking Web site, which raised concerns that it put young girls at risk of sexual predation, the toy maker says it is partnering with cosmetics line Bonne Bell to create a 'girl-savvy retail delivery.'" (Thanks to

I hate to think that the best thing for girls these days is to wrap them into hideous ankle-length denim skirts, but the alternatives appear to be learning to sew (and finding time to do it, even should one be able to master the skill - I never could) inheriting enough money that one can buy clothing from Hanna Anderson or hiring a personal clothing designer/ tailor.
I'd be willing to rise up in protest with my sister imas - I don't want my son thinking that girls should be wearing this stuff either - I don't want his classmates wearing it at the age of 6 (or younger) and I don't think that children and toddlers ought to be sexualized - isn't there enough disgusting behavior going on in the world, without normalizing it through clothing?

I understand that it's about money, and about kids having more to spend, but I just don't want this in my kid's mind. What ever happened to tomboys, and wearing clothes that are for playing in? Does the world really need children acting like sexually available adults?
How can this get nipped in the - well it's hardly a bud anymore? Any ideas?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Judaica oddity of the week

I really want one of these.

It purports to help the beginner, who can say the blessing along with the doodad. It repeats the blessing in Hebrew, word-for-word, followed by English.

The thing is though, wouldn't you need to know which prayer was relevant in order to press the correct button? From the picture, it seems to regard ha'etz as fruit, and ha'adamah as vegetables. Unfortunately, this isn't exactly accurate. Actually, it's not accurate at all (Strawberries, anyone?).
It does however, come with two bonus prayers!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Do you have clean hands?

There is a story told about Rabbi Israel Lipkin of Salant, better known as Rabbi Israel Salanter. One day he was awshing his hands before a meal, when his guests noticed that he was not immersing his hands in the water in the way preferred by Jewish law. His guests asked him why he was using so little water in his washing.
He answered, "I did not draw the water for washing myself. My servant, that peasant girl there, must go out to the well and break the ice, hauling back the heavy pails of water on her shoulders. The more water I use, the more work there is for her. I do not want my piety to rely on the shoulders of her suffering."

Rabbi Salanter, founder of the mussar movement, used domestic labor in his home, as do many of us. And yet unlike many of us, he was able to see his servant as more than a means for him to carry out his own desires, but as a person whose labor contributed to the household, and whose sufferings must be considered.

I wonder what percent of the Jewish community in the United States make use of domestic workers? I would think quite a few - certainly enough so that a major Jewish magazine ran an -admittedly appalling- issue on Jewish girls and their African American nannies. But the truthis these days, it is difficult to manage a middle class- that is to say, two career- household without some assistance.
Certainly there is nothing shameful in either being or hiring domestic labor.

What is shameful, rather, is how domestic workers continually fall off the radar screen when we talk about social policy. Domestic workers have been excluded from most federal and state labor laws, including the National Labor Relations Act. To be clear, they are unable to organize for safe workinng conditions, decent pay, and the things that "professionals" take for granted.

Partially, this is a result of the fact that domestic workers are largely women. In our still patriarchal society, the work that women do still often fails to register as work, let alone as meaningful or important - and is remunerated in accordance withsuch attitudes. It is to most men, and many women, simply the backdrop against which the world revolves - nevermind that without someone doing this work, their own lives would grind to a halt, and their work would be out of reach while they had to deal with the necessities of daily home life. "Women's work" has been largely invisible since the industrial revolution.

There is, of course, another factor in the invisibility of domestic labor. Many domestic workers are not just women, but are immigrants as well - double whammy! And Jews historically were part of several waves of immigration in which we were the bottom of that ladder, and we were part of the labor movements that changed America, giving us safer working conditions, decent wages - and a chance for our children.

Judaism is explicit that what is for us, is for everyone in terms of justice
In fact, the talmud that one who acquires for himself a slave, acquires a master -
the tosafot clarify this point in the talmud (Kiddushin 20a), saying: There is a problem - why 'a master?' It is sufficient for him to be likehis master. One can say it is like in the talmud yerushalmi that sometimes the master has only one pillow. If he sleeps on it himself, the master has not fulfilled 'he is happy with you.' (Deut 15:16) If he does not sleep on it, is he not going to hand it to his servant? This is a great creulty. therefore he needs to hand it to his servant and the servant is a master to himself.

The Torah classifies workers with those who are the most vulnerable in society: the widow, the orphan... these are the classes protected by God, Who, when they cry out, takes vengeance for them, and for whom God lays responsibilty at our doorstep; Jewish law spells out in great detail what the jewish obligation to the worker is - and it is extensive.

The famously cranky Kotsker rebbe also has something to say about washing hands: he commented on the talmud tractate Eruvin (21b), "When Solomon ordained the laws of 'eruv and the washing of hands, a bat kol (heavenly voice) proclaimed: My son, if your heart will be wise, my heart will rejoice, also mine (Proverbs 23:15); and furthermore it says in scripture: My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that taunts me (Prov. 27:2).
The Kotsker commented: King Solomon instituted many other practices as well; what makes these two special?
The answer lies in their connection. The Hebrew 'eruv, is from the root meaning 'to include,' 'to be involved.' washing the hands symbolizes holiness; separation from the mundane. This is the great wisdom beneath this concept: to be involved and yet to maintain clean hands - that is indeed laudable (trans. Rabbi Ephraim, And Nothing But The Truth: According To The Rebbe of Kotsk)

Even the salanter rebbe, the leader of the mussar movement, had domestic laboroers in his household; but he saw them. He treated them well, and he made sure that they were recognized as humans. Today, many of us in the jewish community are wealthy enough to have help in our homes -we must be careful to be sure that we honor the people who help our lives run smoothly as we honor ourselves; to ensure that they are able to make a wage they can live on, and in safe work conditions. Support the Domestic Workers Union (DWU) and the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. In Washington, D.C., join JUFJ, and work with them for Domestic Workers rights.

See Saltyfemme's post here