Quietly, unobtrusively, Jewish Woman magazine, a glossy quarterly put out by Jewish Women International, which is based in Washington, D.C., has reached its 10th anniversary — and has marked the occasion with one of its strongest editions. (There's also an online version that can be accessed by going to: www.jwmag.org.)
The fall issue has a pretty standard mix for Jewish Woman — features, book reviews, quirky news items, great-sounding recipes — but it's put together with a lot of style and contains some of the best writing to appear in the magazine recently (which is definitely saying a lot, since this has been a particularly strong year for the publication).
Aside from the somewhat predictable "Ten Women to Watch in 5768," there's a strong piece about being Jewish and single; "A Modern Jewish Mom's Manifesto"; recipes that feature the spices of India; and an interview with Wendy Shalit, author of A Return to Modesty, about her new book Girls Gone Mild.
According to the group's Web site, Jewish Woman was an outgrowth of "the organization's mandate to serve as a resource for all Jewish women, regardless of age, geography or affiliation, bringing the issues they care about to center stage."
JWI, it was noted, has always been dedicated "to strengthen[ing] the lives of women, children and families." The group is a century old, and its 10-year-old publication goes out to each of its 1 million members.
The Web site also touts the awards that JW has amassed in recent years, including a third-place Hadassah Award for Excellence in Writing About Women, presented by the American Jewish Press Association, in 2004.
In the current issue, Meredith Jacobs' "Modern Jewish Mom's Manifesto" is a particularly intriguing entry. Jacobs is the author of the wildly popular The Modern Jewish Mom's Guide to Shabbat. In her current "manifesto," she explains how, as a child, she watched her parents say the Shabbas prayers and light yahrzeit candles for their fathers. And as a young mother, she found herself keeping these practices simply because that was what women did in her family. But as her children grow older, she writes, she finds she's introducing more traditions into her home, for reasons other than that it's just always been done.
"The more I learn, the more I realize that many of our Jewish rituals serve to strengthen our families. And I find that I need them now, as a 'modern mom,' more than ever.
"Our modern lives and schedules are like white water rapidly carrying us away from our homes, eroding our traditions. Perhaps it's because we have so many choices that we don't always make the Jewish choice. Shul or soccer? Hebrew school or Halloween? Plain or pepperoni? …
"But think about it. There are reasons these traditions and rituals were put in place that go beyond 'because we were commanded to.' Reasons that strengthen our families."