In the American Jewish milieu, there is a dependable cast of characters: the assimilated, the Haredi, the feminist, the one-who-left-the-camp, and the day-school student. So when someone breaks character, we're reminded that people (actually) are too complicated to typecast.
Meet Naomi Kutin—a 10-year-old student at Yeshivat Noam by day, and a record-breaking weightlifter by night. Refusing to lift on the Sabbath when female competitions are normally held, Naomi elects instead to compete on Sundays with “muscle-bound, tattoed-men.” Here is a normal afternoon with the Kutin family, as captured by Haaretz’s great profile:
Naomi’s father, Ed Kutin, wearing a yarmulke and a gray shirt with a picture of an eagle grasping a barbell, prepared Naomi for a squat, rubbing a cylinder of white chalk across her back. She dipped her hands into a cardboard box of loose chalk powder.
“The chalk is getting into my nose!” she squealed. “Well, you’re not lifting with your nose,” said her mother, Neshama Kutin, crouched in a long jeans skirt in the corner of the room to spot the lift.
Naomi then steadied herself in a wide leg stance in front of the barbell, propped at chest-height on a metal stand. Her father loaded several discs onto the 45-pound bar—a total of 205 pounds. Naomi gripped the bar, glancing back and forth between her hands and making “shush” noises to focus. She rolled her head under the bar, placing it on top of her upper back. Face red, eyes bulging to the ceiling, she lifted the bar from its stand and then lowered herself onto her haunches.
"Take it low. Come on, Supergirl,” her mother said. “You can do this. No fear."
Matthew Kalman broke the story of physicist Stephen Hawking’s boycott of Israel. Then Cambridge University tried to falsely deny it.