Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cinderella didn't even bite my daughters

I recently finished reading Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate My Daughter (Harper Collins, 2011). It's an interesting read that goes quite quickly. The book is dedicated to the the daughter of the title, who had, actually outgrown her princess fascination before publication. It seems the fascination with pink, pretty princess gear peaks from ages 3-5 and begins to wane at 6, the same age range that still find Barbie dolls appealing, though they were originally designed to appeal to somewhat older girls. This is due to the concept of "KGOY-Kids Getting Older Younger," which she introduces on p. 84. It's not just about toys or fashion but even procedures. Women try to look younger while teens  undergo cosmetic procedures and even Botox injections.  With the teens growing up faster and their mothers trying to look younger, you can well have a conflation of fashion and looks between 16 year olds and women of middle age (139). The author, I noticed, lives in California, where supposedly it is quite common to see mothers and teen daughters wearing the same skimpy outfits.


But let us return to the preteen child and my choice of title for the blog. My own daughters never wanted to be Cinderella. Only the older 2 made a concession once to dress up as Queens Esther or a princess (as the middle one identified her costume) for Purim. The youngest never even did that and she eschewed the Barbie dolls that her sister may have played with for a few months, hough she did play with a baby doll. Though they have a couple of princess themed things in their possession, those were gifts from people who must have assumed that all girls of 5 or 6 liked this types of of things. One daughter even received lip gloss cases for her 6th birthday from classmates whose mothers must have considered makeup appropriate for a child that age. That stuff was thrown out, not because I would not have allowed my daughter to play with it (despite the goopy mess) but because she never cared to.

 Also none of them cared for pink when they were younger and a couple seem to generally avoid the color.  No question, that if they were given a choice of blue or pink, they would opt for the former. Orenenstein devotes quite a few pages to the proliferation of pink princess items. Interestingly, the Disney princesses that she blames much of this on didn't wear pink. Though Aurora of Sleeping Beauty is shown in a pink gown, the color was never determined. Orenestein must not have reviewed the movie because a central part is the conflict between two of the fairies over whether the dress should be pink or blue. That could be very telling in light of the transition of color domination.  As Orensetin discusses the invention of pink as the feminine in the 20th century, replacing soft blue as the color associated with feminine virtue.

Notes on the fairy tales themselves: While Orenstein does offer her own critique of the violence in the Grimm version of Cinderella or the rather gruesome self-destruction of Rumpelstiltskin. She says nothing of the fact that the princess in that story gains her husband and rank as a result of a lie about her ability to spin straw into gold. She even promises to give her child away in order to keep the deception going. Orenstein does note her horror at a parent's willingness to give a child away in Rapunzel, but really glosses over the Machiavellian nature of the princess in Rumpelstiltskin. I discussed my problems with with the implied lessons of  fairy tales years ago in  http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2009/02/cinderella-myth-and-sense-of.html. BTW I did not try not to allow my children to read fairy tales, but I told them exactly why I objected to Puss in Boots and Rumpelstiltskin. 


 I also did not expose children as young as 3 to Snow White, which actually has a sequence that young children could find frightening. My 13 year-old remarked that she thought The Little Mermaid would be scary for young children. I don't believe she saw it when she was as young as the children she was babysitting for who watched it. Perhaps it is this overexposure to videos from such a young age is what accounts for the sway of pink princess culture. We do not have a TV, and did not even have a way to play videos.DVDs only became a possibility once our computer graduated to DVD player status, and by then the kids were beyond preschool age.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I should really raise my prices for social media consultation

I see that others who bill themselves as "social media experts" are charging quite a lot for just filling in the blanks on Facebook and Twitter free services. The following was posted as a special for shul group readers:

• Setup &; optimization of new Facebook page



• All custom graphics


• Facebook Banner


• Landing page non fan view


• Landing page fan view


• Business info page


• Featured images & page likes


• 5 Status updates


• We will get you 200+ fans to get you started


• Setup & optimization of a new Twitter page


• Facebook linking to Twitter


• Custom Twitter background


Regular price: $849


May special for ---- readers only: ONLY $649 (ends May 31st, 2011)

I can set up the FB pages and Twitter accounts for much less, and I wouldn't try to sell the package as complete with so little follow up. 5 status updates is nothing! It certainly is not enough to win 200 followers on the merit of the Facebook content. I wonder if this company pays them or invents them?
 They also have to consider what exactly they intend to do with their followers that will benefit their business.
On a related note, see the article the explains the reason why, "I Will Never Hire a 'Social Media Expert' and Neither Should You." by Peter Shankman

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Blast from the past

This 3 year old post has been drawing quite a few visitors of late: http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2008/03/sheasani-kirtzono-different-view.html

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Fleet Week in New York means shiploads of free entertainment - New York Jewish Bridal | Examiner.com

Fleet Week in New York means shiploads of free entertainment - New York Jewish Bridal | Examiner.com

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Divrei Chaim: Rashb"i and the value of individualism

Divrei Chaim: Rashb"i and the value of individualism: "מעשה בתלמיד אחד של ר'ש בן יוחאי שיצא חוצה לארץ ובא עשיר והיו התלמידים רואין אותו ומקנאין בו והיו מבקשים הן לצאת לחוצה לארץ וידע ר'ש והוציאן ..."

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Celebrating 100 years at the New York Public Library - New York Jewish Bridal | Examiner.com

Games, lions in Lego, miles or stacks, and  loads of free events this weekend as the New York Public Library celebraates 100 years..
Celebrating 100 years at the New York Public Library - New York Jewish Bridal | Examiner.com
As I've mentioned before, this is my favorite part of Manhattan, and I have nice memories from before the Graduate Center moved to another building. 


Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Wall to wall coffee

How Starbucks effectively markets its coffee, its brand, and its cards at http://www.thecmosite.com/author.asp?section_id=1167&doc_id=206660 Read the comments, as well, for the latest finding on coffee health benefits. And here's a kosher twiston Starbucks culture. There is a KosherStarbucks site that also has a Facebook page  with 1550 people on, as well as a Twitter feed.  Now, I wonder if they go in for Halal approval. Vanilla flavoring can pose a problem because it is usually packed in an alcohol solution, and alcohol is forbidden.  (See http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2011/05/review-of-kosher-nation.html)


And while we're thinking about drinks, we can also look into water: Hydration & Hype: Water's Marketing Mystique



Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A different reading of David and Yehonathan

I want to share one point from the shir by Rav Goldvicht that I attended last night with a bit of further explanation on my part.
 David famously extolled his affection for Yehonathan in the second Book of Shmuel 1:26 with the words, "niflatha ahavathcha li meahavath nashim" This is usually translated as "your love for mee was more wonderful than the love of women." The description would fit in well with the Mishna in Avoth (5:16) that points to the love of David and Yehonathan as exemplary of one that does not depend on anything. (That brings to mind a line from Shakespeare's Sonnet #116: "Love is not love/ Which alters as it alteration finds.")

However, there is also another to read this verse, the way Rav Goldvicht did in the point he made: "the wonder of your love for me stemmed from the love of women." The source of it was in women, and which women were they? The great-great-great grandmothers. David came from the tribe of Yehudah and so was a descendant of Leah. His brother-in-law, Yehonathan, came from Binyamin, the son of Rachel. Generations back Rachel demonstrated her own wonderfully unselfish love for her sister in relinquishing her place to her as Yaakov's bride. So here David identified Yehonathan's strength of unselfish love -- in not trying to assert his own right to the throne as the son of the first king of Israel-- to his ancestress. Yehonathan's ability to love in that fashion is rooted in Rachel.


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Monday, May 16, 2011

Hope in Washington

My daughter is scheduled for her trip to Washington soon. It would be nice if they get to visit some of the Smithsonian museums while there. Last year, they didn't see any of them. While the Air and Space one is listed on the itinerary; it appears as one of those items that is subject to change, which my older daughter says was also the case last year.  Though New York's Museum of Natural History   is larger than its Washington counterpart, the Washington one does have some more impressive gems, including the Hope Diamond that was placed in a new, temporary setting this past year.  The choice of setting qualifies as crowdsourcing, as it was the one selected by over 100,000 people in an online vote.
I'd love to revisit Washington DC myself. I wrote a review of a number of attractions there in 2008. It  is archived at http://kallahmagazine.com/MoneyMatters.htm


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Branding and Women Bloggers

Can you guess what branding category is considered the most desirable for a relationship with a female US blogger? According to http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1008387, technology and electronics tops both health and food categories, though only by a slim margin.

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Kallah Magazine blog for intelligent readers: Sheitels -- Hair to Stay?

Though it is not only fairly old but much longer than most blog posts (as it is the contents of a published paper) this post consistently ranks among my most popular posts: Kallah Magazine blog for intelligent readers: Sheitels -- Hair to Stay?: "Below is the article on the subject I published a few years ago, “The Advent of the American Sheitel.” Queens College Journal of Jewish..."

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Friday, May 06, 2011

For Mother's Day or just a day out

Wracking your mind for a place to take mom or yourself this Sunday without shelling out a bundle? Check out the outing ideas in the latest issue of Kallah Magazin & in http://ow.ly/4OP36

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Review of Kosher Nation

Review of Sue Fishkoff’s Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America's Food Answers to a Higher Authority (Schocken 2010) offers many interesting insights into the evolution of kashruth in America, as well as its perceptions and misperceptions.  The writing is engaging and flows well, though the separate chapters sound like they were written to stand on their own and so do occasionally overlap a bit with information in other chapters. Still, the book does offer some insights that may be new to the reader, even one familiar with the world of kashruth.  Among the most interesting is the progressiveness of  the Star-K, which introduced: the first national training program for mashgichot” [women kosher supervisors]  in 2009 (84). The kashruth business is very much male dominated.

For those of you who are kosher consumers and who perceive  that your food bills are much higher than the average American’s, this book confirms that you are right.  The reason the stores want to attract those who keep kosher is because they “ are known to spend more money than other consumers.  Kosher marketer Eli Rosenfeld says one of his largest clients, a major national chain, claims Jewish customers spend close to a billions dollars in its stores, between 200 and 300 percent more every week than non-Jewish customers “ (136).   In fact, the selling point of kosher is recognized even by those who don’t understand what it  entails. Fuji film  printed an OU symbol on the box in the 1980s.  The company’s explanation was their having been informed  “’that products with this symbol sell better in the United States’” (70).


An insights that is not particularly surprising is the fact that people are demanding more kosher options is not surprising for those of us familiar with Orthodox neighborhoods and kosher markets.  We already know that people who keep kosher today “ travel more than their parents, and they expect to find kosher food on the planes they take, the stores they shop in, and the hotels where they stay” (18).  We also know about the increasingly sophisticated options in kosher foods and wine that are attributed to “the influx of baalei teshuva, or newly observant Jews, into the ranks of the Orthodox in the last decades of the twentieth century. Used to drinking good wine insecular America but now constrained by the laws of kashrut, these new kosher consumers were no longer content with inferior hooch” (115). Wine seems to fascinate the author, as she devotes many, many pages to the developments in kosher wine, including organic varieties.

Some interesting history include the fact that The phenomenon of Jews eating “kosher style” rather than truly kosher food has its roots in “nineteenth-century Europe, where it was known as fressfroemigkeit, German for ‘eating religion’” (96).  In the United States, the 20th century saw a number of eating establishments that provided the flavor of kosher food for those who were nostalgic for the dishes associated with their past, though without the  halachic strictures in place. As for kosher wine in America,  “Manischewitz wine was created almost as an afterthought by The Manischewitz Company, founded in 1888 in Cincinnati, Ohio, as the country’s first commercial matzo bakery” in 1901  (113).  The next year, a clash on kashruth spurred violence during  the 1902 boycott on kosher meat organized by women who “took to the streets, breaking into kosher butcher shops, dousing the meat with gasoline, and setting it afire” (62). 


But the Jews of the present generation seem to reserve their excitement to celebrate new products becoming kosher. Many celebrated the arrival of  kosher Oreos in 1997.   Before that the Nabisco company had a truly treif history, as it used lard in its products. While Nabisco did not disclose exactly how much it cost them to make their famous cookies, including Chipas Ahoy! kosher, they had to replace one hundred belts at the cost of “ $150,000 each.” And of course, on top of that , "they pay yearly certification fees.”  As they seem to have come out ahead in the end, they must have had to increase their sales substantially. The kosher Oreos were seen by some Americans as a major milestone, attaining, “one more popular food product that it was allowed to eat.” (23). However, this trend began long ago.


The chapter entitled “Big Brother Is Watching” details then evolution of rabbinical certification in the 20th Century as more and more foods were prepared outside the home.    “In 1912, Procter & Gamble became one of the first major food manufacturers to ask” for certification for “Crisco, the company’s newly developed vegetable-based shortening. “ (50). This provided a kosher alternative to lard and a parve alternative to butter for baked goods that could be served with a meat meal. The next big event was 11 years later:   “In 1923, Heinz Vegetarian Beans became the first item to carry national kosher certification. This also represented the first successful effort to convince a major food manufacturer that the country’s growing Jewish population was a lucrative market” (48).   But they did not want to be marked as to “ethnically specific, which is why “the OU agreed to drop the word kosher from the original design: of the logo (49).
Coke got kosher certification in 1935, and the ingredients derived from grain were also removed so that the soft drink was kosher for Passover “Company executives were so persuaded of the need to satisfy the very small market of kosher-keeping Jews that they agreed to replace those ingredients, an amazing step for a major food manufacturer to take at the time” (21). And, of course, every year, Coke reverts to its original sugar in its soda formula to offer a kosher for Passover version of the soft drink.


Kosher for Passover is one of the areas that the author does not really delve into. Of course, it only happens once a year, but for those 8 days, many Jews spend as much as they do for a month or more on their standard groceries with special products, wine for the sedar, as well as matzah that can cost upwards of $20 a pound for hand shmura. That fits right in with the point she comes to a number of times that the kosher consumer spends more than the nonkosher counterpart,  the Passover products and the increasingly popular trend of going to hotels for the holiday at the cost of thousands per person, certainly deserved a chapter of its own.  All it merits in this book is a fleeting reference by a mashgiach who says that it involves a great deal of work, though she does not follow one around as she does for other kosher preparation and supervision.
 When she brings up someone who normally is not observant of kosher but does buy kosher for Passover products for the holiday, the author indicates she has not researched the topic well enough to understand why kosher for Passover ketchup is not just whimsical but necessary for kosher law. Ketchup ingredients typically include corn syrup, which is kitniyot, and even more problematic, vinegar, which is usually grain based and, therefore, in the category of chometz. Another nitpick I have is the fact the author is inaccurate because she did not bother to get updates about her report before the books was published. She mentions that in the  5 Towns, there are five large kosher supermarkets in the area, all of them thriving” (268). That includes Glatt Kosher Kingdome, which was so far from thriving that it went out of business within less than a year, months before this book came out.


These bits of omission, though, are relatively minor, though, compared to the fact that in all 384 pages on schitas Beit Yosef or the standard of avoiding bishul akum  for Sephardim even though she makes a point of showing her knowledge of chassidishe shechita.   She also fails to get into the ramifications of stringencies of halacha, like cholov Yisrael, pas Yisroel or  observance of yoshon. Those who abide by such stringencies still abstain from popular brands, like Nabisco cookies, which are dairy, not pas Yisroel, and would only be yoshon at certain times of year.  Instead of including the entire spectrum of Orthodox kashruth laws, she goes off beyond kashruth altogether with many pages on the standards of Muslim dietary laws (the prohibition on alcohol, for example, can make vanilla extract forbidden), especially in college campuses that strive to accommodate both.  Consequently, she gets somewhat diverted from  her stated purpose .


In the prologue, the author explains her inspiration for writing the book: “Seeing, on one hand, the lengths to which a hassidic family will go to keep kosher in Ukraine, and on the other hand, the determination of young Jewish social-justice activists to honor Jewish tradition while excluding no one, I was struck by how broad the spectrum of Jewish sacred eating had become” (xi).  Clearly, some within the Orthodox camp have been excluded from what presents itself as an exhaustive study of the subject of kashruth in all its American manifestations. The bottom line is: the book is interesting, but the author is not well-informed enough to present the ultimate compendium of kashruth observance.








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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Divrei Chaim: why are malkos called "bikores"?

Divrei Chaim: why are malkos called "bikores"?: "Rashi explains that the term 'bikores' used in the parsha of shifcha charufa refers to the punishment of malkos. The term 'bikores' comes f..."

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The bride wore cotton

Why brides are thinking of cotton for their gowns: concerns for comfort and the enviornment.  "Younger women ages 18-to-24 are significantly more likely than those 56-to-70 to consider purchasing a wedding gown with cotton as the primary fabric (77% versus 59%, respectively)." Read more at 
http://lifestylemonitor.cottoninc.com/lsm-weekly/lsm-weekly-articles/?articleID=685&prevArticle=&nextArticle=2

For a review of traditional gown fabrics, see http://www.examiner.com/jewish-bridal-in-new-york/selecting-the-fabric-for-your-gown

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

I posted a blog on marketing that gave me a green idea

Some background:
 All around you  is green, and I’m not referring to grass and plants but to marketing. The question is to what extent the “green” label reflects real improvement and to what extent it constitutes “greenwash,” a green façade over business as usual. OgilvyEarth recently put out “From Greenwash to Great:  A Practical Guide to Great Green Marketing [Without the Greenwash].” environmentally conscientious acts.”  OgilvyEarth considers greenwashing to be  a serious problem because it leads to “eroding consumer trust, contaminating the credibility of all sustainability related marketing and hence inhibiting progress toward a sustainable economy. “ However, the handbook’s examples  of truly green products, like Frito-Lay’s SunChips,  suggests that the hypocrisy implied by greenwash is not unique to businesses.
While OgilvyEarth attributes the origin of the term “greenwash” to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, Wiklipedia, places even earlier.  It credits the term to a 1986 essay by Jay Westerveld, which critiqued hotels that placed cards in rooms that requested that guests retain their towels, supposedly to spare the environment from unnecessary laundry.  The real benefit, though, was to the hotels, which cut its own costs and had no real strategies to conserve resources beyond its own financial ones. “Greenwashing” was Westerveld’s terms for businesses that promoting steps motivated by profit as  environmentally conscientious.”

Then you can read the post, "The Pitfalls of Green Marketing"

The idea I thought of to reduce waste in packaging snack bags came up in the comment.  It should be possible  to do what some stores do for drinks: sell a reusable cup and then sell refills at a lower cost than drinks in disposable cups.  I've even seen this with bottled water -- machines that will dispense the water into your own bottle for less than the cost of individual bottles.  It could be possible to sell containers with lids to hold the snacks, and the customer can get refills from a machine. Of course, the customer then has to wash out the container, so it does lose some convenience.  But some may be willing, particularly if the savings the company gains from less packaging is passed on directly to the consumer. It may be something companies that aspire to be green should test out.




Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner