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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The Power of Women

In Advice, Politics, Women on December 31, 2008 at 9:00 pm

It is a consistently amazing phenomenon to me the power that we as women hold. We as mothers, wives, sisters, caregivers, are endlessly compassionate. Women around the world are the voice of reason the voice of kindness. Many of us can remember the cool touch of our mother’s hand on our hot foreheads, or the calming balm of embrace of a friend or sister in difficult times. With the situation in Israel escalating Jews the world over are engaging in vigils to say tehillim-psalms for the safety of the Israeli soldiers and Israel.

Today in my office we had such a service. One employee an-Israeli transplant-spoke of the call she received from her brother for him to say goodbye. His unit was being deployed to Gaza and he would be out of contact for three weeks. He did not know if he would return home. I looked around the room. It was mostly filled with women; women whose eyes, were swimming with tears. Who silently cried as the tehillim was read responsively. I suddenly realized that if only we, as women banded together we might be able to change the world. For thousands of years women have been trying to keep men from sinning. In the bible when the Jews are all set and ready to make the golden calf- they run to their wives demanding their jewelry. The wives refuse. In their honor they were given as a holiday Rosh Chodesh- or the festival of the New moon which takes place once a month.

In more recent times women are assuming power in countries stained by slaughter and tragedy. In Rwanda a country who saw a genocide that killed 1 million people. Women now nearly half the seats of the lower parliament and more than 50% of small businesses are owned by women. Chile a vehemently patriarchal society has recently elected Michele Bachelet, a single mother who is a self-describer agnostic in a very Christian country. After having many leaders who turned a blind eye to the suffering of many of its people, the people spoke and chose a woman.

Standing in that room today made me realize that we as women have the power of change. We have all heard the stories of Jewish women and Arab women forming friendships. Deep down all of us aspire to peace, to love, to harmony, to live a life rich and full. I call on Israeli women, on Palestinian women, and all women to join together and end this fighting. It is in our power to do so. We as women just need to stand together and remember we are fighting the same fight for good to win and evil to be vanquished.

May we see peace in our days; may we see the safety of Israel, its citizens, the IDF, and all innocent women and children who are used as pawns in the games men play.

In this Economy……DIY

In Politics, Uncategorized on December 18, 2008 at 10:00 am

With the economy crashing and burning faster than you can say recession people are opting more and more to conduct beauty treatments at home. Many companies are now putting out do it yourself products with salon results. In my ever increasing motivation to be a resource of bargain knowledge I am going to try out these products and review them for you here to help you weed out the good from the bad and save precious dollars that can be used for necessities.

First on my list is the manicure pen. When I went to Scandinavia in may my nails were atrocious. I had heard about the new OPI nail pens and picked one up in a fabulous shade of hot pink. All you do is press a button-like a ball point pen or mechanical pencil and onto the brush flows nail polish. You then polish your nails regularly. The pen allows for more control and a steadier hand which leaves you with less smudges, and a more professional look. I suggest using a base and topcoat to get a truly professional look, but for the $5-$7  they cost it’s totally worth it. Considering I went and got a manicure with a friend last night and with the tip it cost me $14, save your money and invest in doing your own nails.

Two to try :

Sally Hansen color Quick Fast dry Nail Color Pen

OPI Nic’s Stics Paint and Go Nail Lacquer.

Check back regularly for More DIY beauty tests.

Bargain Jewess

Weddings: how to have a beautiful one without spending a fortune.

In Advice, Bad Luck, beauty, education, Politics, Shopping, Uncategorized, Women on December 1, 2008 at 9:19 pm

Every girl has a dream of what her wedding will be like. Some  want small and intimate while, others want a big over the top blowout. Some may want a designer gown complete with cathedral veil while others prefer a simple sheath, with loose flowing hair and flowers intertwined. whatever your dream there is a way to make it happen.

  1. Time Counts: Unfortunately the time of year you get married dictates many things, most importantly the price of your venue. Anytime between may and September will be pricey with prices declining from there. The least expensive time of year is December through March. I got married in February in a beautiful country club for a fraction of the price. The pitfall is that you will deal with snow as we did but our wedding was still rockin’. If venue is not important than you won’t have an issue because certain places are affordable year round. More ways to cut costs is to eliminate the wedding cake, have a smaller smorgasbord or cut it completely and opt for chicken only as opposed to a choice. I wanted an elaborate wedding so I gave up my June wedding for February but had a beautiful place, a huge smorgasbord, free flowing liquor and three entree choices. You really need to decide what is important to you.

Some venues to check out:

One of the most reasonable venues in New York is the New York city parks. In my neighborhood at fort Tryon park I have seen some beautiful weddings. This is obviously easier if you are not kosher but I’m sure there are vsome parks where kosher food is offered.  Another option is the Rotunda at Cuny Kingsborough located on the beach. http://www.kingsborough.edu/center/rotunda.html This is truly a magnificent setting as the college is on the beach and possibly affordable as well.

2. Flowers: Flowers can truly be an exorbitant expense. If you get married certain times of the year such as spring you may have more options but florists will jack the price way up. One way to be cost effective is to choose one type of flower for the centerpiece. A really striking flower clustered in a bunch together can be exquisite especially if it’s showy. Add flashy greenery like ivy and different grasses along with tall branches to really make a statement. if you like tall centerpieces see if your florist will rent you the vases. Most should. Just make sure the Maitre d’ is aware that people can take the flowers only. If you would like to use the centerpieces for the ceremony make sure they are in floral foam so they can be moved into smaller containers. Another way to save is to wildflowers in baskets, have votives with small mini arrangements clustered together. If you’re really on a budget scatter rose petals on tables with votives or tapers, and  buy two small arrangemnts for the bride and grooms table.

Chuppahs are expensive no matter how you slice it. Sometimes you get lucky and the place does it for a lower fee than a florist. Their are also gemachs that do this check out the bridal secrets website for more info. http://Bridalsecrets.com

3. Gowns, Veils and Tiaras: These can cost multi thousands or sometimes hundreds it all depends on what you want. It also depends on material beading etc. I payed on the lower end for my gown and it still cost 2,000 dollars. Natural silks, and lace are the most expensive. Polyester satins are relatively inexepensive and can really look beautiful. If you cand find a good reasonable dressmaker it can sometimes save you a lot as opposed to buying from a bridal salon.

Filene’s Basement has a huge bridal sale every year. This year’s takes place February 27th in their manhattan location get there early to get the best selection.

Kleinfeld’s the fabulous designer bridal outlet holds their sale on February 5th. Look for designer names like Reem acra, Monique Lhuillier, Priscilla of boston, kenneth Pool and Many more. Gowns start at $499.

In your local bridal salon be honest about what your spending know what you want and tell them that. Don’t look at things out of your price range only to have your heart broken. Also ask if it’s an older style say from last season, if the sample is for sale. A friend of mine got a $2,000 dress for $800 doing that.

What is a bride without a veil? When I got married I was super shocked at how much they wanted for a simple piece of tulle. My friend loaned me hers but my mother-in-law’s cleaning lady threw it out. Do not ask. I ended up finding a beautiful cathedral length veil to match my train with three layers:blusher, fingertip, and cathedral. It cost me $20. So I seriously advise checking eBay. Also look into rental places or gemachs they usually have a nice selection for far less. if you’re really crafty consider making one yourself. You can find instructions by googling it.

Tiaras, Hair clips and Ornaments- one of the best places to find these is in the garment center btween 36th stree and 5th ave and 40th street and 8th avenue. Look online as well because you can find many affordable things on the web. If you are looking for something really unique check out gemachs and rental places. I got the most magnificent tiara from a gemach in Boro Park for get this nothing. It was really and truly out of this world. Be creative. My new favorite look is one side swept back with a jeweled feathered clip. Tres Chic.

4. Liquor: I discussed this earlier but i feel it needs it’s own paragraph. A good way to have liquor but cut costs is to wither only serve it at the smorg or have wine bottles on every table. This will significantly cut your liqour costs.

Weddings done on a budget can be really beautiful. It’s just how you go about doing it. For more tips feel free to contact me.

Stay tuned for Part Two.

May we only have happy Occasions.

Bargain Jewess

The Other Side of the Bargain

In Politics, Shopping on November 25, 2008 at 9:38 pm

Some may call me naive, but when I go bargain shopping I never think about who’s making the product or where it’s coming from, I’m just excited to be getting such a fabulous deal. The truth is that while I have my cheap stores that I frequent, I also try to find bargains at better stores. What I’ve come to realize though is that other than the really high end expensive stuff, most of the stores I frequent are involved in producing clothes that violate international human rights and working conditions. After reading an article on Twitter on how to increase your visibility I decided to start posting some interesting articles. I typed in “bargain shopping” and found an expose on MSNBC of working conditions in Bangladesh. What I read had me in tears over the conditions that these people are forced to live in.

What amazed me was that these people don’t realize how little they’re being paid in comparison to “how much” the product is being sold for here; and how many Americans just don’t care in their pursuit of me. As one Rabbi I know puts it the I-Pod generation, emphasis on I. I love a bargain and I don’t intend to stop looking for them, but I do think that as a human being it is extremely important to know how our actions in this global marketplace affect others. Two summers ago I took a class on International business. It was my first foray into learning about the global economy. With ever increasing  technology our economy becomes more and more international and we encounter many more ethical dilemmas. We as consumers therefore must be educated. The piece asks consumers if they would pay 25-50 cents more for a pair of pants marked $12.84. I know I would since I’d still be getting a bargain, and I think most people I know would. Especially if they knew that they could allow a worker in a foreign country to eat more than just rice and lentils. Maybe I’m wrong but all these people voting for Barack Obama-a symbol of change-should be aware that if we want change we need to extend that beyond our own needs and realize that by bettering the world we better our lives as well.

To read this piece go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8243331/

I love to hear feedback so please comment or email me at BargainJewess@gmail.com or follow me on twitter BargainJewess.

To paraphrase a great bargain outlet-Syms “An educated consumer is our best customer”.

Jewish Hatred and Cheap Chanukah Gifts

In Politics, Shopping, Women on November 24, 2008 at 7:56 pm

So the title of this post may seem a little strange, but I’m addressing two different topics so bear with me. Last night I logged onto Facebook and saw someone I knew had posted a blog that they thought was dead on. I checked the blog out and found out about these new terms that are being used to classify certain types of people ie: Jews that other Jews take issue with. The terms are “hot chani” and “slimy shmuli“. At first I thought this might be funny but the more I read of both the posts and the comments I just felt incredibly sad. I understand that bloggers feel the need to make social commentary, I do it myself, but I do not criticize people on the basis of how they dress or what community they belong to. Having straddled both the yeshivish and modern orthodox world I have gained insight into both. The “hot “hot chanis”  bloggers speak of, are mostly good people. I know many both from my parent’s shul and from the various schools I went too. I don’t think there is a sin in looking good. If they wear tight clothes that they consider tznius who are you to tell them that it’s not and judge them for it? Are you their Rabbi or their husband or their parent? I think the snarky terminology being used is just jealousy and overall Sinas Chinam and honestly I think it’s pathetic. My motto has always been live and let live. You cannot judge a person by how they look because very often you are wrong. I would say most of the people commenting on this topic have never even met a “hot chani” or “slimy shmuli” only seen them in passing and made snap judgments. Even if you have and they are bad people what’s the point of decrying it on the internet? Do you realize what others’ think when they see that we can’t even get a long with our kind? We know what it feels like to be persecuted by many different peoples so why do we insist on persecuting our brother’s and sisters. We want those outside of us to respect us but how can they when we don’t respect ourselves? I think the lesson we all need to learn without being preachy is to love each other. We are different and yet unique and special in our ways. We all pick and choose when it comes to religion. When did one person’s relationship to halacha and God become everyone’s business? I think we each need to worry about how we define the Torah for ourselves and stop worrying about how other people define halacha for themselves.

On a more fun note Chanukah is soon to be here. Latkes and Sufganiot await. Everyone is feeling the pinch this year in their pocketbook and many people may choose to skip gifts altogether. If you choose to give gifts there are many that are affordable and that the recipient will love. The most important part is to know your recipient.

Some Cheap Ideas:

Board Games: I personally find that you can have a great time getting together with friends and playing some board games.  Some fun ones Scattergories, Taboo, Jenga, Settlers of Catan, and Blokus. Check out http://Target.com or http://walmart.com for these games and many more. For Settlers check out http://barnesandnoble.com

Picture frames with personalized pictures: A picture frame can be relatively inexpensive.Putting in a fun picture of you and that person, or photo’s of them that are really great is a thoughtful and cost effective gift. For really pretty picture frames check out http://zgallerie.com

Books: Books are always a great gift idea which you can tailor to every person. For cooks there’s always a new cookbook, for history buffs a biography will always suffice. There are so many book types I don’t have time to list them all. Check out http://borders.com or http://Amazon.com. Also if you really are on a tight budget you can join a sight like http://bookmooch.com which allows you to swap books for free. All you pay is the shipping  for those books requested from your collection by others.

If you have a skill like sewing or knitting you can always make homemade gifts that people will love. A hat, a scarf, a personalized apron, all can be big hits. Baking is also a great gift. You can make cookies or mini cakes and most people will truly appreciate your time and effort.

The key to budget gift giving is essentially thoughtfulness. Before you go out and buy cheap garbage, think about what the person you are gifting will really want and work from there. The look on their face when they receive it will be worth the time and effort.

I would love to hear your budget gift ideas. Please comment or email BargainJewess@gmail.com.

You can also follow me on twitter, Bargainjewess, and keep up with all my latest posts.

Palin Appeal- The Power of Femininity

In Politics, Women on September 17, 2008 at 3:10 pm

It’s an interesting thing. John Mccain announces his running mate, Sarah  Palin and gains in edge in the polls. It got me thinking, what is it about Sarah Palin that has conservative Republican women-who normally would not want to see a woman with small children in the White House- cheering her on? Even further not only are women cheering her on but they are emulating her. Trying to look like her and copy her fresh, wearable, style.

I think there are two things that appeal to the women backing Sarah Palin that makes them go so far as to support a candidate whose views differ from theirs.

  • Sarah Palin is the every mom. She has 5 kids, she has normal struggles. A pregnant teenage daughter, a child with down syndrome…while these might be the extreme of normal we all know people with similar albeit different situations and can therefore relate. She also seems to be supermom but doesn’t come off as intimidating. She doesn’t discuss her struggles to balance work and kids, she just does it. That’s part of her appeal. That we see her as this very normal woman who has very normal responsibilities. She seems like a woman who can commiserate, a friend even, and because she is a working class woman she appeals to women of the working class everywhere. Women can see themselves in her. In a woman like Hilary Clinton with her Ivy league education and her desire to act like one of the boys, downplaying her femininity worked as a strike against her. Many women did not identify with her. This leads to my next point.
  • Sarah Palin is likable because she is a woman. I don’t mean that in the literal sense we all know she’s a woman. But she is a feminine woman. A woman who has style and isn’t afraid to wear red peep-toe pumps with a 3+ inch heel. If you notice something Palin is always in a skirt always coiffed and groomed. Not too stylish and pretty for other women to put off, but stylish and pretty enough that women identify with her and her struggle as a woman to be a woman while working in the same world as the boys. Other women have downplayed their femininity, in attempts to blend and to show male voters that they are just as qualified as the boys. Sarah Palin is doing the opposite she is using her credentials as a woman and a mother to say that she is just as qualified if not more so than any man. That women do not have to compromise their femininity in order to get the big jobs and titles. That is a powerful message to women everywhere.
  • Many women love the movie Legally Blonde. Elle Woods a beauty queen sorority type, puts her mind to becoming an attorney and get’s into Harvard, graduating at the top of her class. She smacks down sexual advances offered as a way to climb her way up the corporate ladder, outdoes the boy who dumped her and looks glamorous throughout. Looking at Sarah Palin many can say that she is a real life Elle Woods. A former beauty queen who exemplifies the edict that women can be stylish and attractive and still do anything. Whenever the media makes a comment she deems sexist she decries it, and although we don’t know of any boys who dumped her, it seems that the boys are just trying to keep up with her.

Sarah Palin has in many ways created a new playing field. One that uses feminine wiles and actual femininity to gain approval and solidarity. It seems that it just might be working. For me none of this is a quantifier or qualifier of voting for Mccain-Palin but I can certainly say that I admire the woman; she’s smarter than many of her critics seem to think.

For More Info check out the following Links:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122116644864624975.html?mod=googlenews_ws

For perspective: http://online.wsj.com/public/article_print/SB122143727571134335.html

http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/98651/’sarah_palin_feminism’_more_like_sarah_palin_sexism/

PS: I love how the term Rovian has become part of our collective colloquial speech to indicate anyone who lies…as if no one lied before Karl Rove.

Here’s to great political Debate.

Bargain Jewess.