Skip to main content


You want to talk hair issues? I have hair issues. My congregants joke (?) that they never know from one shabbat to another what my hair is going to look like. My hair has been afro'd, perm'd, colored, shagged (you should excuse the expression), curled, straightened, Sinead-O'Connor'ed and Vidal-Sassoon'd.

At least twice I have gone into sobbing fits over a haircut, swearing that I looked like one of my late mother's old friends. When my daughter was born, one of the first things I noticed - other than how absolutely gorgeous she was - was the cowlick center part (MY c.c.p.) in her amazingly thick black hair. Oy.

I take hair - my hair - VERY seriously. A bad hair day can take me down. The older I get, the less cooperative and predictable my head mop becomes, the more obsessed I am. I iChat with my son in Korea and even as I kvell over his adorable self, I'm checking out the mess on the top of my head, with the internal voice shrieking that I look like Flat Top, the Dick Tracy villain. I figure I can't change my height, I'd like to not change my body size (outwards, at least), but I can change my hair.

For a woman (maybe for a man, too - ref. the John Edwards $400 haircut), hair is sexuality, health and ego. Women's hair is considered so sensual that Jewish Orthodox women cover their hair to preserve modesty after marriage with either a wig or a scarf/hat. Observant jewish men wear a kippah but it's not an issue of modesty but God respect. Look at pictures of Holocaust concentration/death camp women (and men, too): they were shaved bald. The Nazi death machine's excuse was to prevent lice ... the reality is that bald people lose their individuality and their strength (see: Samson). French women accused of collaborating with the Nazis were publicly humiliated by having their heads shaved.

While some women who have lost their hair to cancer treatment proudly display their baldness as a sign of strength, most can't wait for it to grow back, constantly praying that the texture is not too badly damaged in the process.

So when Carly Fiorina, the former HP executive-turned-California Republican Senator candidate, "forgot" that open mic's are the downfall of many a politician and chose to cattily take on the hair-style-de-jour of her opponent, Barbara Boxer, my hair and I just sighed. I mean, the same Carly Fiorina who had her own bad hair days when she experienced cancer treatment? Come on. But then I got annoyed.

Ms. Fiorina's so-called "gaffe" (that's the label most MSM outlets are calling it) speaks volumes (nice hair-product phrase, no?) about much more than just beauty-salon nonsense. In 20 seconds or so, Ms. Fiorina ably destroyed a bit of the credibility she had built up as a semi-successful businesswoman and political candidate.

Where to begin?

1. The Joan-Collins-takes-down-Linda-Evans angle (or this, if you need a real laugh). As mentioned above, Ms. Fiorina may have lived a charmed life in the executive suite, where it's assumed, Omorosa-Bethenny Frankel-style, that women throw sheets of glass ceiling at each other. But this is politics, and women have had enough problems cutting through plexiglass walls (this assumes that glass is easier to shatter, but please don't quote me - I'm a cantor, not a physical scientist). Guys LOVE this kind of bitchiness; it reinforces the Neanderthal POV that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution should be overturned. It brings up lovely (bleah) memories of the (in)famous Thanksgiving wrestling gravy match.

More important - from my perspective as a cantor - is ...

2. The gossip angle. You want to engage in lashon ha-ra? There's consequences, especially when you think you're such hot stuff and teflon that you forget yourself and do it live. Before a TV interview. At an open microphone. And the excuse that she was just passing on info from a friend? Hello? It's still gossip. And it's still ugly. And passing the buck just makes her sound like a mean teenager. I guess she forgot the saying that if you don't have anything nice to say, shut your trap.

Honestly, there's going to be enough mud slinging in the next election. Too bad it has to come from someone who should know better.

I feel better now. Off to shampoo, condition and try to make peace with my tresses. Oh, and what do I think about Barbara Boxer's hair? Whatever.


Popular posts from this blog

Erev Rosh Hashanah 5777: WAIT

I got the best advice from my son: "Mom, why are you even engaging with these people? Please stop."

I've got people on Facebook who - while holding similar philosophies in some areas - are 180 degrees from me politically. I long ago determined that arguing with these people is counterproductive, only useful if I believe - science notwithstanding - that heartrate-raising arguments is equal to a good cardio workout.

And so my goal for today is to WAIT (by the way, not an original concept - I learned it from Rabbi Andy Sklarz): Why Am I Talking?

Provocateurs and bullies want to be engaged. They poke, someone responds, and the game is afoot. Like fire, they need constant air renewal. So if don't engage, don't respond, they will run out of air.

So for today, I grit my teeth ... and wait.

Elul 23: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 6:50 (Begin)

Someone I knew hated the expression "new beginning" because it was redundant. The argument was that beginning implies new, right?

Not necessarily. A "do-over" is a beginning of sorts that acknowledges that the first try got muffed up. "Start again, from the beginning" and "begin again" are phrases I use regularly with students and choir singers. A "new" beginning is an attitude, a mindset, an awareness that we have a chance to do something with a fresh take, a new vision. 

Even  בראשית ברא אלוהים, B'reishit bara Elohim, the first words in the Bible, are translated frequently as "when God was beginning," implying that starting this new venture was an ongoing event. It's suggested that God had given this new world thing a go several times already, was about to abandon the effort, and only the angels' intervention gave God the oomph to give it another try ... this time with feeling (as the saying goes).

We're about …

Elul 21: The airline safety guide (Love)

You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Adonai. (Lev. 19:18)

You shall love the stranger that dwells with you (who will be for you like the native-born among you), as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am Adonai, your God. (Lev. 19:34)

And you shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might ... (Deut. 6:5)

If you've paid attention to your flight attendant, you know that in the event of an emergency, you put your own oxygen mask on first. Only then do you help someone next to you, including a child. Why? Because if you don't have oxygen, you're useless to anyone else.

It's the same with love.

Start by loving and caring for yourself. It's not selfish; it's just a place to start.

Then move outward: your neighbor, your community, the strangers around you.

Then, finally, the realm of God: the spiritual love that holds all the others together.

But it all starts in your own home.