Congresswoman Grace Meng Responds To Jewish Community

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” chanted the evil queen in the famous children’s story of Snow White. In another famous story, we see how enchanted and disappointed Alice was as she approached and entered into the looking glass.  Rows of makeup mirrors on cosmetic counters in department stores can make you dizzy. Mirrors have an interesting place in our psyche. Do they hold truth, vanity, mystery, or divinity?

It was only last year that I casually asked a salesperson in a local Judaica store if they had a good selection of books written by women. I was promptly escorted to an array of gorgeous cookbooks glorifying challah baking, sumptuous holiday recipes, and elaborate table settings. While not discounting the importance of food in our culture, I wanted to find more meaningful and spiritual Torah content: perhaps a genuine sefer written by a woman.

Global fashion weeks that are politically motivated always raise my suspicions, especially with “of the moment” themes such as #metoo movements and results of the Weinstein trial. During Paris Fashion Week, Christian Dior relied more on feminist flea market signs than on new looks for the runway. It was as if they got lost at sea and live on an island of current events, losing the art of fashion to the world of headlines. Motty Reif’s Tel Aviv Fashion Week (March 15-19) celebrates positivity with energy of love and acceptance. Living in Israel, you can easily succumb to a myriad of divisive and negative frameworks, such as elections, terror, and the quest for peace and world acceptance. These could be four hot topics that would dictate any fashion week runway series. However, Motty stays true to who he is: an admirer, lifelong appreciator, nurturer, and sustainer of a women’s true self from the inside first and then the outside, as a complete canvas for beauty.

Life is big, but I like my jewelry even bigger!” is a perfect introductory quote from Liat Ginzberg, Israel’s trendiest jewelry designer. We first connected years ago at Bijoux at The Norton Museum of ART (now moved to The Art Armory). Since I am a big jewelry fan in every sense of the word “BIG”, I immediately gravitated towards Liat’s collection. Over the years we have formed a great friendship and she has customized an assortment of pieces for me that are the four Bs- bold, big, beautiful and brazen. Perfectly suited for the occasions as New York Fashion Week’s runway shows and media appearances.

Once again, I can’t continue to ignore the fading faces of Jewish women in “religious media” outlets. Advertisements of medical clinics with the image of a female doctor replaced by a Cabbage Patch Doll or a real estate brochure for a new family development in Jerusalem with only pictures of daddy and no mommy. There are too many flyers for charity events honoring the Mr. and Mrs. with only a Mr. pictured. However, the most ridiculous example is the “kosher” version of the Super Bowl halftime performance of a male singer serenading the audience about the joys and pain of motherhood, a song that is sung by women, about women. Somewhere in the video there was a very faded and shaded female form. Thankfully, there are sensitive and informative organizations that highlight the harmful practice. Chochmat Nashim is leading the way to educate, re-educate and re-scramble the message behind the puzzle of the missing face.

 Listening to Iris Apfel describe her high school days in Astoria, Queens, ditching class to go shopping instead, reminded me of my senior year at Bais Yaakov High School of Queens (now Shevach). I was voted “most likely to shop” in my yearbook, because I thought Thursday and Friday afternoons were meant for exploring department stores on 34th Street in Manhattan such as B. Altman’s and Ohrbach’s.