Julie Wiener's In the Mix

Plight Of The Patrilineals

As we all know by now, this weekend’s tragic shooting rampage in Arizona has not only stirred up much partisan finger-pointing about inflammatory rhetoric but highlighted yet again the utter wackiness of our gun-crazy culture (hold your angry comments NRA supporters: I’m unabashedly liberal on gun control and see no reason any civilian, much less a schizophrenic, should have access to a semiautomatic rifle).

But the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who identifies as Jewish but is not Jewish according to the traditional “matrilineal descent” definition, is also shining a spotlight on the “who is a Jew” debate. Giffords, 40, is the daughter of a Jewish father and Christian Scientist mother who raised her in both traditions; according to JTA, for the past decade (following her first visit to Israel) she has identified exclusively as Jewish, and she belongs to a Reform congregation.

A Few Words About Debbie Friedman

Yes, I know there is nothing explicitly “in the mix”-y about Debbie Friedman, but amid all the obituaries and tributes flooding in for the singer-songwriter, I’m feeling sad.

Not only about her untimely death before her 60th birthday (on a horrible weekend that also featured the horrific Arizona shooting), but also because I (and my daughters, who I think would have loved her) did not fully appreciate Friedman while she was alive and never had a chance to hear her perform.

Fiddling With 'Fiddler'

 I know I blogged about “Fiddler on the Roof” last week, but since the girls and I have watched it (and listened to the soundtrack) a few more times since then, I feel compelled to revisit the subject.

First of all, I want to offer an apology to the musical’s creators, for all those years that I dismissed “Fiddler” as kitschy nostalgia on par with those cute little chasid figurines/tchotchkes and ubiquitous Chagall reproductions on display in more than one American Jewish grandma’s home.

Of Brainy Jewish Actresses And Not-So-Charming Rebbetzins

I’m not a big celebrity watcher, but I wanted to let you all know that I did, in fact, hear that American-Israeli Jewish actress Natalie Portman (nee Hershlag) is engaged. And that her intended, French dancer Benjamin Millepied, is, according to bloggers far more in the know than I, probably not a Member of the Tribe. 

So there you have it, another Jewish celeb (and a day school grad to boot) coming over to the dark side.

A charming commenter on Rabbi Jason Miller’s blog has already decreed her a “self-hater.”

Christmas In Anatevka

Last week it was the soundtrack from “Tangled,” Disney’s take on the Rapunzel fairy tale.

This week I cannot get “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “If I Were a Rich Man” out of my head. In no small part because my kids have insisted on playing “Fiddler on the Roof” and its music on a near endless loop since Saturday.

Three Jews Walk Into A Christmas Party

 While visions of “The Polar Express” danced in their heads, my children had their first Christmas tree-decorating experience this Sunday – just a few hours after Hebrew school.

We were at another family’s Christmas party; so ensconced in Jewish life am I these days that I hadn’t realized until we got to their apartment — Christmas songs playing on the stereo and a fragrant evergreen awaiting the children’s trimming — that this was, in fact, a Christmas party.

Here Comes Santa Claus

So remember about a week and a half ago when I was saying how nice it is that my kids aren’t asking to celebrate Christmas?

Well, I spoke a little to soon. They’re not clamoring for a tree or anything, but for over a week, Sophie has insisted on us reading “The Polar Express” to her each night.

Does Lauren Bush Really Want To Change Her Name?

 Yet another presidential heiress is marrying Jewish.

Less than six months after Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky went under the chuppah,  Lauren Bush, granddaughter of former President George H.W. Bush's granddaughter and niece of former President George W. Bush, has announced her engagement to David Lauren, son of fashion designer Ralph Lauren (ne Ralph Reuben Lifschitz).

Steven M. Cohen Promotes "Meaningless Jewish Associations"

Regular readers of this blog know that I have, on more than one occasion, criticized sociologist Steven “Intermarriage Is The Greatest Threat” Cohen. But to tell you the truth I’m starting to feel a little sorry for the guy.

While I doubt he cares about my blog missives, and while there is of course something noble about sticking to your opinions even when they are no longer fashionable, Cohen, who is a professor at Hebrew Union College and director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive, seems to be increasingly out of step with the non-Orthodox American Jewish community. 

This Chanukah Lady Is Fried

Over the past week, my life has been so overtaken by the Festival of Lights that I’ve been looking forward to Christmas, just so I can kick back and do nothing!

Our schedule was packed this week: three events at our temple, family over for dinner on Saturday and dinner with friends on Monday night. Plus, "Chanukah Lady" visits to Sophie’s pre-K and Ellie’s second grade to teach about the holiday and pass out dreidels and gelt. Oh, and did I mention that it was a regular week of work and school for everyone, and that I had to take the kids to two different doctor’s appointments?

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