The Politics of Paradox

Some of our most Jewish acts are driven by paradox. Here, three fascinating and very different angles on some unexpected twists of Jewish identity.

Holly Shulman, daughter of an unheralded white civil rights pioneer, investigates the occluded Jewish core that drove her religion-hating mother to make her bold and risky treks into Mississippi. Rachel Kadish reveals how her annual bacon sandwich honors the legacy of her Holocaust-survivor grandparents. And Karen Engel reports from Austria on the resurgence of a nationalistic outfit — the dirndl — that Jews used to be forbidden to wear; now, do Jewish teen girls in Europe love it?

The Politics of Paradox

The articles in this special section:

Wednesdays in Mississippi

by Holly Cowan Shulman

Polly Cowan worked to bring interracial teams of glove- and hat-wearing middle-class Northern women to Mississippi every Wednesday during Freedom Summer. Polly’s daughter figures out what drove her mother’s work.

BLT Judaism

by Rachel Kadish

Bacon? One woman creates her own Jewish tradition out of the most untraditional food of all.

Should a Jewish Girl Wear a Dirndl? (And Other Questions About Jews And Tracht)

by Karen Engel

In Germany and Austria, traditional German peasant dresses, like the dirndl — once forbidden for Jews to wear — have made a comeback. Is it okay when even the author’s daughters are wearing them? And here’s a rundown of the restrictions on Jewish women’s clothing over the centuries, in case you thought the yellow star was a first.