Archive for the ‘Essay’ Category

My Obstetrician’s Rx: Liverwurst
October 8, 2009

THE FORWARD-October 06, 2009

A Mother-to-Be Ponders Giving Birth Abroad

By Deborah Kolben

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When I moved to Berlin last year, I settled into a Bohemian-chic neighborhood in what was formerly East Berlin. Despite Germany’s declining birth rate — the once decaying buildings here, where coal ovens and shared bathrooms have been replaced with stainless steel kitchens and cupboards filled with organic muesli — are packed with babies. It’s considered a German miracle. Coffee shops are more like nurseries. My block was home to three preschools, including one in my building. They say to be careful — there’s something in the water. And then, it happened to me.

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My Meidel Is the Centerfold
September 12, 2002

BITCH MAGAZINE—Spring 2002 (reprinted in The Guardian)

Growing up, I learned a few things about Jewish girls from the copy of Truly Tasteless Jokes my brother kept in our bathroom. In addition to being frigid and cheap, I learned that we love Bloomingdale’s, dislike oral sex, and prefer circumcised penises—as the joke goes, we like everything better when it’s 20% off. While Jewish men are noted for their keen minds and acerbic wit, Jewish women are hailed as overbearing mother figures with big boobs, bodacious thighs, and a penchant for debilitating headaches—a stereotype perpetuated by Jewish men like Woody Allen and Philip Roth, whose male protagonists admire Jewish women’s minds but lust after young shiksa bodies.

Thanks to Lindsey Vuolo, a 20-year-old college student from Pennsylvania who bared her bod in the November 2001 issue of Playboy, that stereotype might finally be changing. As the self-proclaimed first-ever synagogue-attending Jewish centerfold, Lindsey finds herself heralding a new generation of young Jewish women seeking appreciation for their bodies as well as their minds. Already busy with school, car-dealership appearances, and magazine signings, Lindsey has also had to schedule time to defend her bunnyhood to the Jewish community, which has had a mixed reception to her naked debut. On a panel organized by Makor, a Jewish cultural center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, she went head-to-head with Shmuley Boteach, the young Hassidic rabbi famed for his book Kosher Sex as well as for his post in Michael Jackson’s clutch of spiritual advisors. Boteach’s objections to pornography stem from Jewish law, halacha, which holds that sex and nudity are sanctified and belong behind closed doors. “The issue for Judaism,” Boteach writes in Kosher Sex, “is that pornography does not enhance the passion and romance between a couple, but rather replaces them by something alien.” Unwilling to cow to the rabbi, (who, it should be noted, promoted his own book in Playboy) Lindsey stood her ground, explaining that she had done nothing wrong. According to Lindsey, Playboy doesn’t even count as pornography because to her the word conjures up images of “penetration, urination, and things like that.” (more…)