n the 1946 film The Big Sleep, based on the Raymond Chandler mystery of the same name, Carmen—the promiscuous, drug-addicted younger sister of Lauren Bacall’s character—sizes up Philip Marlowe, played by Humphrey Bogart, and asks him, “What are you, a prizefighter?” Bogart responds, “No, I’m a shamus.” “What’s a shamus?” she inquires. “It’s a private detective,” he answers. Yes, Bogart is using the Yiddish version—more popularly spelled “shammes”—of the Hebrew word, “shamash.”
Forty-six years after the first American woman rabbi was ordained, Judaism is transformed.
“Do we gossip? Do we repost stories about friends, family or colleagues that ought not be repeated? Do we believe everything we read?”
Where you stand on most issues depends on where you sit. It’s a truism that dates back far before our polarized age. Women’s issues tend to pose this problem with particular clarity; you might say that it’s not so much where you sit as what set of organs you sit on.
In practice it requires women to maintain the peace by bending to the will of the males around them. Although my mother was a feminist for her time, she still subconsciously bought into the notion that shalom bayit was the duty of women and girls.
This past spring, Trayon White Sr., a Washington, DC city councilmember, sparked an outcry by blaming a late season snowfall on the Rothschilds, the famous Jewish banking dynasty, who, he explained, control “the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities.”
Last April, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to name the main terminal at San Francisco International Airport after Harvey Milk, the gay rights martyr who was assassinated 40 years ago. The decision further (and literally) cements Milk’s legacy as the best-known LGBT activist in American history.