Jewish Mother Stereotypes: A Thing of the Past?

jewishmotherWith his usual empathy and dry humor, the j.’s Dan Pine explores how the image of the over-bearing Yiddishe mama who ladles out guilt with the soup she’s been slaving over all day is so, well, over. At least in the San Francisco Bay area, anyway.

He found that “instead of the kugel-baking shrew meddling in her grown children’s affairs, today’s Jewish mother shares the progressive post-feminist outlook of other modern women.” I have to agree when I see the Jewish mothers around me — the college professors, the filmmakers, the Phd candidates — who also volunteer on the PTA, keep kosher kitchens and bake their own challah. While as a mere blogger I can hardly count myself as a high achiever, I’m honored to be among these amazing mamas. We balance carpool and obessessing over healthy meals with our own ambitions; we struggle to keep our own identities as we succumb to the fierce love we have for our children. In short, the new Jewish mother still has her children at the center of her life, it’s just that life includes a personal quest to be part of something larger than the nuclear family.

So maybe our “centers” have evolved and grown larger since the shtetl days to accomodate this complicated dance. While we’re still perceived as “pushy,” I think the current stereotype of the Jewish mother is a Lexus SUV-driving gym addict with fabulous nails rather than a rugalach-pushing immigrant. But still, I don’t know anyone who actually fits either description, which is why it’s called a stereotype. Rather than go there, I’ll just agree with one interviewee that “Jewish women have this courage and positive attitude, and a tremendous amount of chutzpah.”

But you should know that I won’t rest until the stereotype of the new Jewish mother is perceived to be an organic foods-pushing, energy-conserving, religious and cultural outlaw with blue hair.

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