Teen magazines like YM or Seventeen are usually aimed at young girls who can spend hours contemplating the deeper questions of life like "How can I tell if he likes me?" or "Is 50 Cent hot or not?" But now from Los Angeles comes Shoshanim, the Orthodox girls' teen mag that dispenses with such asinine navel gazing and instead lures its modestly clad readers with articles that discuss "The remarkable chesed [loving kindness] of the girls of Gilo," or "Halacha: Wronging Someone With Words."
"Boys do not exist in this magazine," said founder and editor in chief Sterna Citron, who started the magazine three years ago when she realized that there was no appropriately kosher magazine for Orthodox teenage girls. "But there is a lot to write about without writing about boys -- there is conflict and competition and growing up and teachers and parents and issues. There is plenty to keep us busy."
Shoshanim aims to be the magazine that will keep its female readers on the straight and narrow during the downtimes.
"We wanted to show the Torah way, not through a school curriculum, not through teachers, but in an entertaining way so that they can see that it is fun," said Citron. Thus, Shoshanim features an advice column where girls can ask Rebbetzin Rochel what to do in situations where, for example, a girl is trying to stay on a diet but she doesn't want to be rude to her grandmother who keeps pushing food in front of her. (Rebbetzin's advice? "A diet is not as important as someone's feelings.") There are also short stories, health advice and book reviews. Citron welcomes submissions from her readers, and she will publish their short stories and their artwork as long as it meets her standard of quality.
Citron currently publishes Shoshanim -- the Hebrew word for roses -- quarterly. She has a couple of thousand subscribers in the United States and Canada, as well as a handful in other countries like South Africa and England. She does much of the work on the magazine herself, voluntarily, but she feels that the venture is worthwhile.
"I get letters from parents saying, 'Thank you for a kosher magazine to help keep my daughter kosher,'" Citron said. "But the main way that I know I'm doing the right thing is when I see young girls sitting down and reading it."
For information about subscribing to Shoshanim, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org , or mail a check for $22 and your address to 723 N. Orange Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90038.