Breast Tattoo (Women’s Bodies Jewish) (Front Page of the New York Times)

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Readers of the print edition of the New York Times will not have missed the sight on today’s front page a photograph of a young woman’s upper torso, the nipple of her exposed breast, just under the scar and a blue inked tattoo of a Jewish star. The big color picture is figured prominently across six complete columns at the top of the page, just under the banner. It will have made its impression before you have read the headline or found the story at the top of the right side of the page about Ashkenazi women in Israel screening for breast cancer, and confronting the decision to have elective double mastectomies and ovariectomies. Prior to the story itself, what makes for the strong visual is the sheer size of the photograph, a woman’s physical exposure marked by the blue Star of David tattoo and its cultural particularity, this very public, visual association of Israel and Jewishness with vulnerability, exposure, and risk, disease, death, and prevention. I’m sure I did a double take. Shocked, you don’t find or expect to find this everyday on the front page of the New York Times. You can find the article online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/27/health/in-israel-a-push-to-screen-for-cancer-gene-leaves-many-conflicted.html?hp. On one hand, I think the photograph says a lot about Jewishness and its perception at the NYT. On the other hand, the NYT has been running for some time now photographs on the front page that look like they could have been hung in a museum or gallery; this is simply one of them. I like too how on the talkback feed online the first respondents that I read stuck to the substantive points raised by the article regarding women’s health.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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