Love it, hate it, or some combination of the two, but you gotta pay attention to Heeb magazine’s “Girls of 5769” calendar, featured in both the New York Post and Ha’aretz daily. The latter includes a video of an African-Amercian man looking at the pictures and remarking that “Jews should be respecting their women, and if they don’t respect them for this, he’s going to start respecting them himself!”
Personally, I love it, with a dollop of discomfort thrown in on the side. It’s just too easy to see what’s problematic here that it borders on taking cheap shots, but I do appreciate the concern. So let’s get the latter out of the way. Of course, it objectifies women, and no it’s not my greatest hope for my own three daughters, and yes, it violates certain norms of traditional Jewish modesty rules, blah, blah, blah… But it all pales in comparison with the up side here.
So what’s to love about this collection of bikini clad (why is it always “clad”, not “wearing”, or any other term?) beauties, one surrounded by lobsters and another sporting a fishing rod with lox dripping off the end? Here are three quick things to love about this spread, and I am sure that the list will grow.
First, the very idea of reclaiming Jewish sexuality and desirability to both Jews and non-Jews, is so healthy, it’s scary. This calendar smashes the idol of the “shiksa godess” – really the goddess part. We took care of the s-word earlier this week.
Second, it’s done with a wink and a nudge. The presence of the non-kosher lobsters for example, indicates that the folks who did this appreciate that it’s transgressive and can laugh about it. And for people to laugh at themselves is a good thing–it sure beats laughing at others.
Finally, “The Girls of 5769” celebrates a deeply felt sense of Jewish pride and connection. Many of the models can, and do, make far more money modeling swimsuits for designers than they got for this layout. It really became a vehicle for the integration of the models’ professional and Jewish identities. The search for that integration is an entire industry in the spirituality world, and they pulled it off in a few pages. My hat goes off to their clothes being off.