Live from the Lilith Blog

September 29, 2016 by

Where a Feminist Can Welcome the New Year

Shana tova! As 5777 approaches, Lilith has assembled for you a batch of feminist opportunities to spend the Days of Awe from the Bay Area to the mountains of Georgia. No matter what your High Holiday plans, look over this fascinatingly diverse list. From text studies, to chanting, to services free of charge and open to walk-ins, we hope you’ll feel inspired and renewed by seeing how you—or others—might celebrate the new year. Rosh Hashanah begins Sunday evening, October 2; Yom Kippur starts Tuesday evening, October 11.

(And if you know of an event you think should be added to the list, email us—fast!—to info@lilith.org)

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Live from the Lilith Blog

September 28, 2016 by

A Divorcing Catholic Discovers Tashlikh

Last fall, I spent Rosh Hashanah weekend with a group of women in a rented house in Ventura, California, a beach town perched between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. The plan was to have a simple Rosh Hashanah dinner together on Sunday night and then half our group would commute back to L.A. to attend services in the city and the other half—including me—would take a high-speed catamaran to Santa Cruz Island for a day of hiking and open-water kayaking, a way of communing with God through nature and starting the Jewish New Year.  

This was one of the first outings I’d made since telling my husband of 25 years that I no longer wanted to be married.

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September 28, 2016 by

Who by Chicken?

Your synagogue is packed. Parking spaces scarce. You’ve been careful to hold on to your ticket, which is required for entry. These are the days of awe. The time to contemplate the state of your mortality. In the sanctuary, a man blows a ram’s horn to signify the seep of the ancient into the present at a time when the congregation prays for the future. Please God. Inscribe me and my family into your Book of Life. As always, you ask for one more year. Around you, they recite the poem with the punch list of how one might perish. On Rosh Hashanah it is written and on Yom Kippur it is sealed: Who shall live and who shall die. Who by fire and who by water? Who by sword and who by beast? Who by hunger and who by thirst? Who by earthquake and who by drowning? Who by strangling and who by stoning?

But never mind about that. This is the time when you and all Jewish mothers everywhere prepare for the arrival of the family and attempt to make this holiday as authentic and real and Jewish as possible. Obviously, it’s about the meal. Nothing is more sacred than food.

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September 23, 2016 by

Rediscovering Jewish Roots in Poland through Coca-Cola

Gunnar Inge Gjøvik Sortland

Gunnar Inge Gjøvik Sortland

The six degrees of separation is usually only two or three when it comes to Jews. Poland ended up being a perfect example when I attended a “Seminar on Wheels” for Jewish professionals with the Taube Center for the Renewal of Jewish Life in Poland.

We keep hearing that many Poles are discovering Jewish roots, but when I visited Poland recently I met precious few of these reported multitudes. “In August, everyone is on vacation,” we were told.

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September 16, 2016 by

History on Trial: The Docudrama

I hope there will be lots of conversation about “Denial,” the riveting new docudrama about eminent historian Deborah Lipstadt’s fight to defend her scholarship against a vicious Holocaust denier.  The libel suit brought against the Emory professor–and her publisher–by David Irving, whom she described as a Holocaust denier in her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. Irving brought the suit in England, where in such cases the defendant has to prove her innocence, the opposite of the American system, where in such cases the defendant has to be proven guilty. 

The film, in which Rachel Weisz stars, is based on Lipstadt’s 2005 book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier (2005). This screenplay, written by David Hare, may be indicative of a new 21st-century era of Holocaust film tackling a fundamental question we haven’t needed to ask in quite this way until now: How do we know what we know? 

In the trial, for strategic reasons, and also to protect them from abusive bullying by the bigoted plaintiff, the defense kept upset Holocaust survivors from testifying. And, following the unilateral decision of her expert barrister and solicitor, supported by a large team of researchers, Lipstadt was kept off the stand too.

All clear thinkers agreed that it would be an absolute disaster if the case were lost. Some, including leaders of the British Jewish community, urged Lipstadt to settle the case out of court, but she insisted on fighting the charge directly. 

One small and perhaps not so incidental detail about the film: it doesn’t throw in any extraneous romance to sell its story. We don’t learn anything about the relationship status of any of the characters, a tribute to the seriousness and sufficiency of the film’s subject. 

Lipstadt (played wonderfully by Weisz)— is tough and relentless and often funny, like the historian herself—and the film powerfully connects the many themes of hatred spewed by Irving: his racism and sexism on top of his rampant anti-Semitism. 

“Denial” is a film well worth seeing—and discussing.

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September 15, 2016 by

Dual Citizen

Dual Citizen
           Haifa, Israel

The sea is warmest at night
The sea is for soldiers and the old
The soldiers pull American girls into the sea
The night is for girls to find their soldiers

The soldiers find paradise in the central bus station
The central bus station is by the sea
The central bus station is for going home
There is no bus that can bring me home

The buses never arrive on time
The old avoid the buses
The drivers do not wait for the old to find seats
The most dangerous part of the bus is the bus

The bus already moves
The soldiers do not take off their backpacks
The bus poles are for more than steadying
The soldiers’ hands always find their way over mine

The soldier’s hands have lifted me over his head
The soldier in the club does not put me down
The American girls all love to dance like this
The buses take so long to arrive at night

The bus watches its riders
The bloodshot driver watches the road
The American girls are taught who to watch
The most dangerous part of the bus is the bus

The radio on the bus says a bus exploded
The driver takes the coins from my hand
The American girl is nervous because of a brown man
The buses do not explode throughout the week

The American girls return home throughout the week
The soldiers are not seen throughout the week
The empty bus drags the old up the mountain
The view from my window is in darkness


Yael Massen is an MFA Candidate in Poetry at Indiana University and former Nonfiction Editor and Associate Poetry Editor of Indiana Review. Her work is forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Hobart, and The Journal, and can be found within the pages and URLS of Mid-American Review, Southern Indiana Review, Ninth Letter Online, and Day One. She is a recipient of the 2016 Vera Meyer Strube Academy of American Poets Award, the 2016 Kraft-Kinsey Award from the Kinsey Institute, and was a 2015 TENT Fellow in Creative Writing at the Yiddish Book Center. She volunteers as an On-Scene Advocate and a Legal Advocate at Middle Way House, a domestic violence shelter in Bloomington, Indiana, where she lives, works, and walks.

 

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September 15, 2016 by

The shiva rice pudding

The shiva rice pudding

was the only one I ever made
that turned out wrong—watery
beneath the cinnamon-sugar topping.
And I forgot the raisins. She
made it year after year in the old red
wedding gift baking dish, then
in the new red baking dish she bought
after the first one broke.

It’s always more or less about the food—
the chicken soup, the casseroles, and, yes,
rice pudding, her mother’s recipe.
Still, what else can we do but bring out these
pale reminders year after year and set out plates?


Ellen Steinbaum is the author of three poetry collections. Her work has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and is included in Garrison Keillor’s anthology, “Good Poems, American Places,” “The Widows’ Handbook,” and “A Mighty Room: a collection of poems written in Emily Dickinson’s bedroom.” An award-winning journalist and  former Boston Globe columnist, she writes a blog, “Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe” which can be found at her web site, ellensteinbaum.com.

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September 12, 2016 by

The Unregretted Decisions of Actor Mira Furlan

mira furlan picMira Furlan, an iconic Yugoslavian film and theater actor, came to the U.S. in 1992 as an exile, driven out of her native land by a toxic blend of anti-Semitism and misogyny.

I was working as a journalist in Zagreb at the time. When I read these attacks against Furlan, including one titled “The Hard Life of an Easy Woman,” I felt physically ill. I am a woman of Croatian and Jewish descent and this was the first time in my life that I’d encountered anti-Semitism and misogyny at such a personal level.

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September 9, 2016 by

Are You a Jewish Studies Scholar with a Baby? Here’s Good News

wecometolearn

When scholar Andrea Lieber and her husband were at the early years of their academic careers, attending the annual Association for Jewish Studies conference meant “we just roamed the hallways with our six-month-old baby and connected with other scholar/parents on the margins of the conference,” recalled Lieber. This was 2001, and there was no on-site child care. At this year’s conference, parents who are also professional academics will have another option.

Last week, the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS) announced that, after more than a decade of organizing by affiliated academics, it will offer highly subsidized child care for attendees at its 2016 conference, to be held December 18 – 20 in San Diego.

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September 6, 2016 by

Tenements and Air Rights: A Cautionary Tale

Veronica ML

Veronica ML

In Welsh, it’s called Hiraeth. There is no English equivalent. It’s a nostalgia one feels, a homesickness for a place that doesn’t exist anymore. For me, it’s how I feel when I visit my old neighborhood, New York’s Lower East Side. I haven’t lived in Manhattan for over 20 years, but I have been back and forth enough to adjust to and even appreciate changes. On the West Side, The High Line is change at its best. I’m even excited about the recently approved Lowline, an underground park-like experience that repurposes an abandoned trolley terminal at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. My anxiety over what feels like an Etch-a-Sketch erasure of an historic community wasn’t triggered by things happening below the pavement. My sense of loss really kicked in when I read that Katz’s Delicatessen had sold its air rights.

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