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Sat Apr 25, 2015 at 05:11 PM PDT

This Week in the War on Women

by ramara

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This week's categories may seem a bit strange and lopsided. There is lots of interesting stuff about reproductive choice, including the choice more women are making not to have children at all. And there are other important national stories, especially the bizarre story of the Missouri mayor-elect whose election has led much of the town officials to resign, and the confirmation finally of Loretta Lynch. There is are only two international stories, but I think they are important enough to merit their own category.

So on to the news.

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Fri Apr 10, 2015 at 11:00 AM PDT

D'var Torah: Passover

by ramara

I have posted things before that I wrote for writing classes held at my synagogue by my friend Lynn. They have usually been related to the High Holidays, but this year the class is less focused, and one class was very close to Pesach. The assignment was to invite a character to a seder. Some class members are writing novels, and used their fictional characters, but we could use real people or historical people, or pretty much anyone.

After thinking about it, I decided to bring my mother to the seder I attend every year.

It was easy to write the background, but when I got to the seder itself, I blocked. I realized I did not want her there. It was too late to completely rethink my piece, so the rest of the assignment changed then, and became about why I didn't.

This feels more personal than what I usually write here at Daily Kos, even though I have written personal diaries before, usually on health-related matters. I hope you will bear with me.

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Sat Mar 28, 2015 at 05:00 PM PDT

This Week in the War on Women

by ramara

War on Women banner
This week was not so much a week of new battles as a week of old battles rethought. And re-fought. Perhaps nowhere was this more evident than in the reemergence of Monica Lewinsky. She gave a TED talk, calling her experience the first case of cyber-bullying, describing how the internet, even in those early days, became a loudspeaker allowing hundreds of strangers to send her shaming messages.

Of course there has been much commentary about her talk, some sympathetic and some skeptical. When I listened to her speak, I was more impressed with her than I imagined I could be, though I kept wondering about a woman who would keep a dress without having it cleaned. But she has chosen an important cause, and is an eloquent advocate. And whatever one thinks of her personally, the fact remains that Bill Clinton lost nothing ultimately, while her life was forever damaged.

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Seven years ago this week-end I had asked to do the d'var Torah at my synagogue. My birthday was on Shabbat, and it was my first birthday after having cancer, my 60th. I was still recovering and weak, but it seemed right to do my first d'var Torah after cancer on my birthday. It was a different parsha, Tzav, and I talked about how things seemed new, and how I was marking events as before and after cancer, and how it must have felt dedicating the Mishkan and performing the sacrifices for the first time.

This year my birthday is not on Shabbat, but the next day, but again I wanted to mark the date with a drosh.

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Wed Mar 04, 2015 at 12:13 PM PST

D'var Torah: Purim

by ramara

Purim begins today at sundown. It is customary to dress in costume; we read the Megillah (the Book of Esther) and whenever Haman's name is mentioned we make as much noise as possible to drown it out. We are also commanded to get so drunk that we confuse Haman and Mordechai.

Purim is the first holiday not named in Torah, and it is a holiday of exile, of the diaspora.

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Sat Feb 14, 2015 at 05:00 PM PST

This Week In the War on Women

by ramara

War on Women banner
Today, February 14th, is Valentine's Day, the Hallmark holiday that is supposed to celebrate romantic love, but which has become a day when we compare our own lives to some romantic ideal and usually find it wanting. For me it began in grade school, when we were supposed to bring in valentines for classmates, and learned who was popular and who wasn't, and to feel bad if you were among the have-nots? Do you remember the books of valentines from Woolworth's, with the cards you pushed out? And try to think who to give them to who wouldn't make you feels bad afterwards?

Most of us learned early that we didn't come up to the mark socially - because even then the mark was measured by whether boys found you attractive.

Yesterday I went to the vet to pick up my dog's medication. An older man was there. One of the desk clerks must have asked him about what he was doing for his wife, because he said he didn't usually do anything special, adding "I always think that if you need a special day to tell her you love her it might as well be divorce day."

But some women have found a way to use this day to focus on victims of that violence that is the opposite of love. February 14th was chosen for the Memorial March for Missing Indigenous Women.

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Fri Jan 30, 2015 at 08:27 AM PST

D'var Torah: Beshalach

by ramara

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
But in ourselves that we are underlings.
There are many things this parsha brings to mind for me and I thought about writing each of them so long that I only just started to write this morning.

For example, how I dislike the God portrayed in Exodus, who sometimes seems more like a court magician than adonai tzevaot, the lord of hosts, or like someone trying desperately to attract a lover. Or how I sometimes think of this reading as "I kvetch, therefore I am" as the Israelites seem unable to keep the idea of God before them even after taking part in an event as impressive as the parting of the waters.

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Sat Jan 24, 2015 at 04:59 PM PST

This Week in the War on Women

by ramara

War on Women banner
This past Thursday, January 22, marked the anniversary of the decision in Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal. While House Speaker John Boehner wanted to coordinate with the annual March for Life and celebrate the occasion by passing a stringent 20-week abortion ban, his plans were checked by the fact that even Republican women understand some of the realities of rape victims. Instead he had to settle for a weaker bill banning public funding, already law through the Hyde Amendment, which keeps Medicaid from funding abortions, and foreign aid money from going to health programs that perform or even counsel about abortions. Kudos to the Republican women in the House - not something we are likely to say often in this series.

The week also saw the death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. We will look at his record on women's issues, including his possibly imprisoned daughters.

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On January 7, 1955, sixty years ago today, American contralto Marian Anderson sang the role of Ulrica in Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She was the first African-American ever to walk onto that stage, and her debut was shamefully overdue. Anderson was 58 at the time.

Here is the aria Re dell' abisso, affretati from that production:

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Time for a new year
we've used up the old one, and
are ready to move.

New Year's Eve - champagne,
fireworks, crowds in Times Square
wait til the ball drops.

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This was originally published to the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona blog.

BROOKLINE, MASS., DEC. 30 — A gunman dressed in black opened fire with a rifle at two abortion clinics here this morning, killing two female staff workers and wounding at least five other people.
This matter-of-fact sentence was the opening of a Washington Post story on December 31, 1994. Today marks the 20th anniversary of these shootings at the Planned Parenthood and Preterm Health Services clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston.
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Thu Dec 25, 2014 at 10:35 AM PST

Moving Towards the Light

by ramara

In the Northern Hemisphere much of winter is lived in the dark. I remember when I lived in New England, I would wake up and leave for work in the dark and it would be dark again when I left to go home. Here in Arizona it's not so bad, partly because of the latitude and partly because we don't have Daylight Savings Time - but it still affects us. My dog often lets me sleep 'til seven o'clock or later - at seven the sky is still pretty dark - though I've had to make six the earliest I would feed her since most of the year she's up even earlier than that.

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