613 Plus 1

coverThere are some Jewish mothers out there who make the rest of look like lazy slobolas: Since overseeing the fabulous teen zine J-Vibe and revving up the sassy, smart blog Jewesses With Attitude all while raising a two-year-old, all-around balabusta Michelle Cove has launched yet another new project that will surely enrich the edutainment of the Jewish people.

614, an online mag to promote “fresh ways of thinking about Jews and gender worldwide” sponsored by the Hassadah-Brandeis Institute, was just born at the beginning of the month — and it’s a perfect read for busy Jewish women and the people that love them. Short, digestible essays from experts and scholars revolve around a common theme, like January’s focus on the origin of Jewish names and how they affect how we feel about ourselves. The crisp format appeals to those of us with challenged attention spans who nevertheless want to know more about the modern conversations around Jewish identity, and you can peruse the whole journal without putting the evening’s dinner in jeopardy.

And speaking of names, aren’t there 613 commandments? What’s the deal with the extra? Of course, being clever and thoughtful, Michelle has named the zine quite carefully: She writes that “the idea of 614 is not that there is one commandment missing. Rather it is about the idea there is always room for innovation and exploration.” She adds that “Jewish philosopher and Holocaust survivor Emil Fackenheim (1916-2003) had the idea of adding a specific 614th mitzvah: the preservation of the Jewish people.”

With all the concern about intermarriage, assimilation, suffocation by Christmas and other dangers to Jewish life, 614 has the right idea to ensure that we Jewish mamas and papas keep on keepin’ on: It’s not some grand committee of rabbis who can stave off our fears, but the small conversations that take place in kitchens, chat rooms and comment sections. Read on, sisters and brothers!

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