Thursday, April 9, 2009

Misogyny, Pesach, and Beauty

Misogyny (and books, you can't leave out the books)

Last night I trekked an hour into Itaewon to go to a Passover (Pesach/Passove, whatever) sedar in Itaewon. The Chabad of Korea had booked a rather nice hall at the Hamilton Hotel and thanks to a wonderful (rich) patron in Brooklyn, all teachers and students got to go for free. It was a little stressful to change at work and dash to the subway but worth it, if only for my little girls cooing over my long, pink, silk skirt (thank you India). I did draw the line at wearing my heels for an hour on the subway though and did what Brooklyn women everywhere have been doing for years: I wore sneakers and put my nice shoes in my bag. Freakishly, I arrived in Itaewon with half an hour to spare, and since large events never start on time I skipped off to What the Book with my very shiny gift card from my birthday. I have to say, that I love, love having gift cards to bookstores. I got 2 new Vonnegut books, Sirens of Titans and Hocus Pocus. Then, out of habit I perused the used classics section and found a book I've been TRYING TO GET FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It contains Jane Austen's last and partly unfinished novels, Sandition, Lady Susan, and the Watsons. I started bouncing with glee. Normally, when I bounce with glee I at least get to vent the glee to whomever I've dragged book shopping with me but yesterday the poor sales ladies got my happy ramblings. At least they seemed amused and didn't try to have me evaluated at a psych ward. I imagine they get quite a few outcries of bibliophile induced exuberance there, I've met others like myself in the stacks. Well, sort of.

So after the mania at the bookstore I skipped (literally) back down the hill to the Hamilton where I met my friend, M., outside. Then we were very bad Jews and went and got gyros and the Turkish place on the corner. The problem is that since Orthodox Jews run Chabad and is the only Jewish organization in Korea, they have to cook all the food in the Rabbi's family kitchen. Needless to say, there is rarely enough food at a large event. Which brings me to the misogyny part of my ramblings. The Rabbi is a bit of a chauvinist. Everything was "the MEN are/were free." The Haggadah was all, He, He, He. Though, it did have the one modern revision of referring to 'the children' instead of 'the sons.' However, when the Rabbi discussed it he only used the word 'son' and not child. Another liberal minded female at my table bristled throughout the sedar as well. It wasn't just the wording, it was how he explained things. I understand, that it's the Orthodox view point, that women are not included "because they are on a pedestal." On a pedestal so high that we can't be counted for Minion or anything else. After years of Sarah Lawrence sedars where the orange was always included for Miriam and everything was modern and liberal, the constant chauvinistic, misogynistic tones really grated on my nerves. Not to mention, years of sedars led by my own family, who while not quite as liberal as Sarah Lawrence, at least attempts gender neutral pronouns and ideas. All in all, I didn't enjoy the sedar quite as much as I would have hoped to. I always loved Passover in the past but this year it seemed a bit lackluster. Not to mention that I didn't get home until midnight which is fine-except when you have to work with 6 year old children first thing in the morning. I'm whining, I know but you can always SKIM the whining bits.


It's cherry blossom season and I've never seen anything so beautiful lining industrial streets. I shall endeavor to steal someone's camera. (Yes, Saturday I'm attempting to get mine fixed/get a new one.)


Jakieyin said...

Korea is a land of magic

Jessica said...

Yay Pesach, boo misogyny. Hope you still had fun. Looking forward to more pictures when the camera situation is solved.

Nancy K said...

Hag sameach dd.

Alex said...

Jakieyin: Korea is Definitely a land of magic.

Jess: Fun was alright, will hopefully have the camera situation worked out after Saturday.

Mom: Ditto!