July 26, 2014 / 28th of Tamuz, 5774
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Mimi Arbeit

  • I had tea with Beth Leventhal, a 54-year-old Jewish lesbian who is the director of The Network/La Red. As we stood up to leave, she commented that she had told me a lot more stories than she has in other interviews because she associates telling stories with Jewish learning and culture—the midrash, or oral tradition. Here are some of her stories. (Trigger warning for depictions of physical and emotional abuse.)

    “She used the smallest kernel of truth to hook me, t...

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  • I’ve started inviting partners to contribute stories or conversations together. (I think I’ll call it a “We-brief”—let me know if you and your sweetie are interested!) Today Eve and Kevin, 28-year-olds from Somerville and Jamaica Plain, respectively, reflect on how they worked through an apology as they started dating a few months ago, inspired by this article on teaching children to say sorry (yeah, adults have a thing or two to learn, too!).

    Eve: ...

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  • At the beginning of the film “Obvious Child,” 27-year-old Donna (Jenny Slate) tells her best friend Nellie (Gaby Hoffman) that she looks like “a lez who just got back from Birthright.” She was clearly talking about me and my friends, although the look is not actually about sexual orientation or sexual identity, and some of us have complicated feelings about Birthright. But there’s something in this movie about Jewish femininity, Jewish women’...

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  • I’ve been going through an intense breakup process over the past many months. While my post last week focused on my friends’ actions that have been deeply meaningful and helpful, this week I want to offer some practical suggestions about what to say and what to ask, to me or maybe to other people in similar situations. (I was inspired by this piece on a totally different topic that also felt kind of relevant.) All of the “instead of” lines below are things I...

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  • “Without regard for a broken heart, it’s another year…”
    —“Arch Drive Goodbye” by Eve6

    I’m turning 29 on June 26. Buzzfeed says that 28 is the best year of your 20s. Astrologists say that 28 is the beginning of the Saturn return, where everything turns upside down and inside out but through it all you become more in touch with yourself than ever before. Personally, that resonates. I’ve just been through the kind of ...

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  • The first time someone asked to kiss my stomach when hooking up, I said no. It made me tense, self-conscious. Every message I got about my body, about feminine bodies, told me the bulge in my belly was not sexy, not attractive, and was not going to make people want me. I couldn’t reconcile my internalized drive for thinness with a sweet kiss of adoration.

    When my high school boyfriend came to visit me during my first semester at college, I asked him if he’d noticed t...

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  • In honor of Boston Pride Week, 26-year-old Rachel from Longwood shares 10 fabulous things about being in a relationship with another woman. Find more LGBT Pride Week events and resources from Keshet here.

    Rachel and her partner, Sarah, a 28-year-old from Brookline, are approaching their one-year anniversary. Sarah helped write this disclaimer:

    This narrative is based on our own thoughts and feelings in our relationship. We recognize that Rachel shares only her own observation...

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  • In which I rant about the pressure to reproduce.

    It all started when I got this email from my dad:

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------

    Dear Parents,

    I am in search of email addresses of your young adults ages 22-35 who have been affiliated with our temple in the past. We are trying to reach out to this age group to create events geared toward this age group in the future.

    If you have children that fit this category and they live in the Boston area, please send me their names an...

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  • Today is Menstrual Hygiene Day, and I had no idea that was a thing until Ilana Cohen told me. Ilana is 23 years old and works with Eco Femme, a women’s empowerment project promoting menstrual hygiene practices that are healthy, dignified and eco-positive. Originally from Vermont, she studied Jewish women and gender studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary and anthropology at Columbia University. She writes about her work with Eco Femme and menstrual cycle awareness at kolgalgal.wordpress....

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  • Today we debrief with Lynn, a 29-year-old graduate student who lives in Somerville.

    I wanted to meet new people—single, straight men in particular. I didn’t have a specific vision; I’m not “looking for Mr. Right,” and it’s not like I would want the same thing with every person. I have no moral opposition to random hookups if the feeling is right. I’d also be “ready for something long-term” if I met someone awesome. I just wan...

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Mimi is a Ph.D. candidate in child study and human development at Tufts University, focusing on adolescent sexuality and sexual health. She is a freelance sexuality educator and also works locally to promote and strengthen sexuality education in public schools. Before starting The Debrief, she wrote her own blog, sexedtransforms.blogspot.com. She loves dancing, taking walks around the city, and listening to people share their stories. Email mimia@jewishboston.com or tweet @mimiarbeit.

Latest Comments

I am so grateful, every day, that The Network/La Red is in the world, doing this holy work. Loved this interview/conversation with Beth Leventhal, thanks Mimi Arbeit!
The Debrief: Midrash with Beth Leventhal
I am so deeply grateful that The Network/La Red, Beth Leventhal, and all the TNLR staff exist in the world doing the amazing work they do. Definitely check out this conversation with Beth!
The Debrief: Midrash with Beth Leventhal
This is wonderful stuff. I'm so glad Beth's perspective is out in the world, and when other people are willing to listen, I rejoice!
The Debrief: Midrash with Beth Leventhal
I think the suggestion about "supporting your children in exploring the power and potential of using their bodies as mediums for adventure and expression." is a really critical one. I'd perhaps add to that creating a family norm of expressing gratitude and celebrating the ways our bodies work and what they let us do, ie "I'm grateful for my legs because they let me run around the playground" or "I'm grateful for my tummy because it tells me when I'm hungry and turns my food into fuel for all the fun I get to have!" or "I'm grateful for my tummy because it gives mommy a place for blowing raspberries!" etc. (Caveat: It's important not to ignore the realities that people have bodies that work in all sorts of different ways, those we understand as "disabilities" and otherwise, and this exercise shouldn't reinforce shame re: legs that don't let people run around the playground, or anything else. The point is to reach for gratitude and celebrating what we've got!)
The Debrief: The Point is Not to Disappear
This is so beautiful, honest, and true, Mimi. The writer's little girl is lucky to have a parent who cares and a resource like you!
The Debrief: The Point is Not to Disappear
i wrote an essay on what it means to not have parental expectations in regard to breeding: rolereboot.org/family/details/2013-12-why-im-glad-my-parents-are-gone
The Debrief: A Satire