Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | April 11, 2019

Call me by my name: Deborah Abrams Kaplan

A few months back I got an email. A writer wanted to use photos from my Manishewitz matazh factory tour for a Bobov Hasidic publication. The magazine story, written and published in Yiddish, would also be part of a book compilation on matzah production throughout the world. The Newark Manischewitz factory has since closed (I believe reopened in another part of New Jersey, but I have no details).

IMG_5765

Manischewitz factory. Copyright DEBORAH Abrams Kaplan

Since it was a Jewish publication and I figured this would not be a big moneymaker, I told the writer he could use a few photos at no cost, provided that it was one-time rights, that I received a PDF of the article/book chapter where my work was used, with photo credit reading “Deborah Abrams Kaplan,” and noting in publication that the photos were used with permission. He agreed.

A few months went by and he emailed that the publication was going to press. Could he have high resolution photos? I agreed and sent them.

Then another email. “Thank you very much, just one more question, for technical reasons, would it suffice if we credit D. A. Kaplan or Kaplan ink?”

I wrote back and said no, photo credit should be Deborah Abrams Kaplan. And then I asked what the technical reason was for the requested change. I wondered to myself if my name was too long. And then I wondered if it was because I am a woman. But I dismissed that thought as ridiculous, because they’re not using a photo of a woman, but rather a photo of matzah.

For those who aren’t familiar with aspects of orthodox Jewish practice, some require keeping a strict separation between men and women, so as not to tempt the men. That’s one reason orthodox women wear clothing that covers their arms and legs, and one reason that some orthodox women wear a wig or other hair covering. On some Israeli buses, women have to sit in the back (I experienced this myself many years ago – on a public bus) so the men aren’t looking at them or in contact with them. Don’t get me started on this topic!

I received this response, written by the editor: “SINCE SHAAREI ZION IS A HASIDIC PUBLICATION, WE USUALLY DON’T MENTION THE FULL FIRST NAME OF WOMEN (WHO ARE ALIVE), ONLY THEIR INITIALS AND FULL FAMILY NAME. SO WE WOULD CHOOSE TO GIVE PHOTO CREDIT TO: D. ABRAMS-KAPLAN. WE APPRECIATE YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF THIS ISSUE (KNOWING THAT NO OFFENSE IS INTENTED ח”ו). THANK YOU.”

Well, regardless of their intention, offense was taken. Why should I lose my identity – especially while I’m alive? They were happy to use photos taken by a woman, but not give a woman full credit? I did some research, as I’d never heard of this practice. There’s a ton of interesting articles (especially from the New York Times) about the Bobov community. I encourage you to read them. But this Wikipedia entry was fascinating as well – particularly the family tree. Notice how the women are listed? As one friend said “it’s amazing that the women all have the same first name!”

wikipedia bobov

Before reading all this, though, I sent back an email revoking my permission for them to use the photos for free. If they wanted to use them at all, they needed to pay me $500 – and that would give them the right to credit me without “Deborah” in the photo credit. If they don’t want to pay me, they cannot use the photos.

A few weeks went by, as the editorial board decided what they wanted to do. Ultimately, they wanted my photos and the writer had to pay out of pocket, per his contract. The check arrived today (and his wife’s name is actually listed on the check along with his). After the check clears, I’ll let him know where the money went.

It brings me great satisfaction to donate the $500 to:

Unchained at Last: an organization dedicated to ending forced and child marriage in the U.S., through advocacy and financial support and direct services to affected women. It was founded (and is run) by Fraidy Reiss, who herself was once in an unwanted and abusive marriage in the orthodox Jewish community.

Women of the Wall: “…our central mission is to attain social and legal recognition of our right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah, collectively and aloud, at the Western Wall.”

Our temple Sisterhood, who organized the matzah factory tour. The Women’s League of Conservative Judaism, of which our Sisterhood is a part, encourages girls and women to get a Jewish education and to be active participants in religious life, including reading the Torah, leading services and holding leadership positions in an egalitarian community (all while using their full names).


Responses

  1. Not being Jewish, I found this to be a very interesting read! Then again, I always find your writing interesting. Good for you! That’s the Deborah Abrams Kaplan that I know

  2. Great read! Good for you! This is the Deborah Abrams Kaplan that I know and love!

  3. Ditto on the other comments!

  4. Thanks for sharing this, and glad you put the choice on them to either pay or you with full credit with your full name. Its a shame that you would choose to donate funds to Women of Wall, which true purpose is to foment hate against the ultra-orthodox.

    • Ya bro this shit is Fuckd up

  5. MARVELOUS. IDEA OF MAKING WOMEN DISAPPEAR TRAGIC.

  6. Fascinating story! I’m going to share this with our participants during current events at work (day program for older adults at the JCC). I’m sure it will lead to a lively discussion.

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  12. […] Article URL: https://lettersfromnj.wordpress.com/2019/04/11/call-me-by-my-name-deborah-abrams-kaplan/ […]

  13. […] Source: lettersfromnj.wordpress.com […]

  14. […] Call Me by My Name: Deborah Abrams Kaplan 4 by verbify | 0 comments on Hacker News. […]

  15. […] A few months back I got an email. A writer wanted to use photos from my Manishewitz matazh factory tour for a Bobov Hasidic publication. The magazine story, written and published in Yiddish, would …Read More […]

  16. No excuse, but I see on my family tree (going back over 900 years), many times the womens names are not listed, I discussed with family members and we think it is because in shool and on tombstones it is always the father’s name mentioned, and not the mothers.
    for example on my great grandmothers tombstone it states her name daughter of fathers name. so we don’t know her mothers name

  17. […] https://lettersfromnj.wordpress.com/2019/04/11/call-me-by-my-name-deborah-abrams-kaplan/ […]

  18. More accurate title would be “Call me by my name … or just pay me $500 and carry on deleting the names of women from history”.

  19. Ha ha
    Nice choice of charity and a lesson in the nature of “Traditional values”

  20. I agree with you 99%
    The 1% I disagree is the women “praying” at the Kosel with prayer shawls and reading the Torah.
    But that’s for another time which I’d be happy to discuss.

    Good luck

  21. only just got around to reading this – WOW yay Debbie!


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