Live from the Lilith Blog

December 15, 2014 by

Excuse Me: Coveting Thy Neighbor’s Food

Welcome to another edition of Excuse Me, a new illustrated advice column about maddening things. Installments will be posted here every other Monday. Need advice? Send your questions to liana@lilith.org.

excuseme6_1 excuseme6_2


Liana Finck’s graphic novel is called A Bintel Brief. She writes and draws a monthly column for The Forward and her cartoons appear irregularly in The New Yorker. She often thinks about the age-old question: fight, or flight?

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Live from the Lilith Blog

December 9, 2014 by

Kaddish for My Uterus

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Exalted and hallowed be Surgery’s great name
in the world where none of my gynecologist’s earlier ideas—
not the differently-dosed birth control pills, nor a specific intrauterine device,
nor a D&C—put an end to the mischief of those four fibroids,
to a daily life constrained by the mess, the pain,
the sheer weariness of endless blood and clots.
May Surgery’s majesty be proclaimed all the remaining days of my lifetime,
joyfully, energetically,
to which I say: Amen.

Blessed be Surgery’s great name.

Equally blessed, praised, honored, and exalted
be my gynecologist’s skill with a scalpel
once she yielded to my entreaties and accepted
that even if I met my soulmate the very next day
(which was unlikely, given the percentage of my waking hours
spent trapped within the four walls of my bathroom)
I’d long since passed the point
of seeking to preserve my fertility, such as it may yet have been,
my having already crossed the rubicon into my fifth decade
without any concerted effort to make use of it.

May there be abundant gratitude, too, that I opted for
the old-school, traditional approach.
Not for me the ultra-modern robotics, or something called “morcellation,”
the cancer-spreading and other consequences of which
you can read about these days in The New York Times.

May the freedom from those four freakingly frustrating fibroids,
the immeasurable improvement in my quality of life after Surgery,
bring peace to me, my loved ones, and everyone else with whom I interact.

To which I say: Amen. 


Erika Dreifus writes poetry and prose in New York. Visit her online at www.erikadreifus.com and follow her on Twitter @ErikaDreifus, where she comments on “matters bookish and/or Jewish.”

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Feminists In Focus

December 5, 2014 by

‘She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry’ – The women’s movement gets a kick-ass documentary

sbwsa_poster“She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” is the women’s movement film we’ve been waiting for. We just didn’t know it.

With outrage and humor, the 90-minute documentary brings back the revolution in living color and black-and-white, with torrents of music from the ‘60s and ‘70s. If you were there, it’s the turn-on of reliving the Great Awakening. If you weren’t yet born, hopefully you’ll get what an exciting, life-changing time it was.  And–guess what?–it’s not over.

Producer/director Mary Dore, 63, started the project more than 20 years ago, before her twin sons, now 21, were born. With producer Nancy Kennedy and many, many women and some men, and support, which included Kickstarter funding, the film is finally OUT!

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Live from the Lilith Blog

December 4, 2014 by

Finally: Relief from GivingTuesday Emails

SUPPORTERS-artYou’ve been bombarded with GivingTuesday emails. We know. 

At this point, they’ve all started to look the same. In fact, you haven’t opened one all week.

We get it.

And we won’t bore you with more of the same. Instead, we offer you Lilith’s guide to Giving Tuesday: a selection of articles to help you think about how to give, what to give, and to whom you should give.

A ninth-grader derives tzedakah lessons as she sorts through her family’s philanthropy.
 
Susan Weidman Schneider on learning value from a New Orleans street performer.
 
Why is women’s charity undervalued in the Jewish community? Is it because women tend to give differently than men?

 
Feminist Philanthropy
Female philanthropists are putting their tzedakah right where their personal politics are. 
 
Philanthropy Begins at Home

What if you’re Jewish and you don’t have any money to speak of?

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Live from the Lilith Blog

December 2, 2014 by

That Special Christmas Ruach​

flickr.com/cali4beach

flickr.com/cali4beach

It’s the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, and I have spent a chunk of time wrapping presents, which I’ve been collecting for months, in red paper with green polka dots. I also went next door to give my neighbors’ puppy, Penny, the candy cane squeaky toy I scooped up for her in early November. (Penny obliged me by racing around joyfully with the toy in her mouth—running, leaping, squeaking.) Christmas time is here; Chanukah time is here; and I love it all.

I was not raised with Christmas in my Jewish home. However, I was raised with Christmas all around me. My small town was predominantly Protestant, and it wasn’t easy to grow up there feeling left out of the holiday’s festivities. I asked for a Christmas tree and was denied. I knew a tree wasn’t really mine to have, but I wanted one anyway.

Somewhere along the way in my early adulthood, I began to realize that though I don’t technically observe Christmas, I can participate in it in ways that are true to my beliefs. I don’t have a tree, but nothing says I can’t gather with friends to drink eggnog and help decorate theirs. On a more spiritual level, “Christmas giving” and the spirit of tzedakah feel very similar to me. In fact, my favorite Christmases as a child were when my family went to volunteer at a soup kitchen on Christmas day.

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Live from the Lilith Blog

December 1, 2014 by

Excuse Me: Change at the Counter

Welcome to another edition of Excuse Me, a new illustrated advice column about maddening things. Installments will be posted here every other Monday. Need advice? Send your questions to liana@lilith.org.

excuseme5_1excuseme5_2excuseme5_3
excuseme5_4
excuseme5_5


Liana Finck’s graphic novel is called A Bintel Brief. She writes and draws a monthly column for The Forward and her cartoons appear irregularly in The New Yorker. She often thinks about the age-old question: fight, or flight?

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Live from the Lilith Blog

November 25, 2014 by

Fabulous Hair!

leah lax photo w grey hair us“Fabulous hair!” That came from a neighbor I barely knew while I was out walking our Airedale Gracie through our neighborhood lined in old live oaks, their bent branches arching the street like the protective arms of old crones. Her hair was short, straight, and unnaturally blonde, and she was a little older than me, with a determined look on her face as she strode past carrying a tall cup of Starbucks. I just shook my head. This had been happening ever since I started letting it go gray.

I do not have fabulous hair. I have unmanageable Jewish hair with waves in all the wrong places that tends to frizz in humid Houston, where I live. A hairbrush or blow dryer just makes it worse, so I resort to getting out of the shower and raking it back with my hands, then letting it fall where it falls, which is often in my face.

I used to dye my hair back when I was a covered Hassidic woman, even though I had to keep it hidden at all times. I would clip it short so it wouldn’t be a nuisance under the scarves and wigs I wore day and night, then I avoided the mirror except when I was wearing my very-expensive wig, as if that way I would only see who I was supposed to be.  

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November 21, 2014 by

DOWN UNDER and BACK UP again

An author talks about her fascination with Mel Gibson, and how it became a novel.

DOWN_UNDER_COVER-330When a Jewish author, daughter of Holocaust survivors, writes a novel inspired by the life of Mel Gibson, there must be a good story attached. And there is. In fact, there are two parallel stories, one concerning the notorious international superstar, and one about his fan, that daughter of Yiddish-speaking, Orthodox, Lithuanian immigrants. The child of survivors of Stutthof and Dachau.

Let’s start with the second strand. The child, of course, is me – author of a recent memoir called The Watchmaker’s Daughter, which told of my life as the daughter of heroes. My parents met at a Lithuanian Survivor’s Ball in New York City. At the moment they took to the floor in a Viennese waltz, they’d already endured the ghetto, the camps, four years in Germany as DPs, and the arduous process of starting anew in America. My mother had been about to debut as a pianist when her world fell apart. Her father and two brothers were killed, and her mother sent to the “bad” line, marked for death. My mother heroically got her out, keeping her alive until liberation. My father had a similarly valiant tale. Years before the Nazis invaded, his father was killed by the Cossacks.  This tragedy had forced him, at 13, to apprentice as a watchmaker — and that trade saved his life at Dachau.  Germans needed someone to repair their timepieces. My father, by that time a master watchmaker, did that, and more. He saved lives as a prisoner in pajamas, bringing other Jews into his workshop whether they could fix watches or not.

These were my parents, people who could walk through hell, and do it helping others.  They were also people who could really dance. When they fell into each other’s arms at the Survivors’ Ball, when they sailed across the floor to Strauss, or flew in the air in a polka, they recognized each other. Kindred spirits who could live like that and hope like that and dance like that must marry.  Soon after, they did.  And not too long after, they had a boy and a girl – a New World family dream come true.

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Live from the Lilith Blog

November 20, 2014 by

The Very Surprising History of Jewish Women in Comic Books

272646_147053512036600_8128239_oJewish creators like Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (creators of Superman) and Art Spiegelman (of Maus) have had a strong influence on comics, but not so much attention has been turned on female Jewish comics creators. After Michael Kaminer  wrote a piece on Jewish women’s comics for The Jewish Daily Forward, Sarah Lightman reached out to him about making a museum exhibit of female Jewish comics creators.

The result was “Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women.” The exhibit, which is currently in London, shows the work of 18 Jewish women, including Lightman, Miriam Katin, Ariel Schrag, Trina Robbins, Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Vanessa Davis.

The success of the exhibit has led to the recently released book Graphic Details: Jewish Women’s Confessional Comics in Essays and Interviews (McFarland $49.95), which Lightman had previously discussed with Lilith. This anthological book takes an academic approach to the intersection of women, Judaism and comics. All the women from the exhibit take an important place in these pages through biographies and work samples, including beautiful full-color spreads. Some of them are interviewed about their work, and essays by other comics scholars discuss the meaning, influence and strength in the creators’ comics. However, the book does not stop here: it also details the lives and works of other female Jewish comics creators.

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November 18, 2014 by

Hollywood Princess

3771076Although born and raised in New York City, Dana Aynn Levin always considered herself a California girl at heart. So after graduating from Vassar College, where she studied economics and psychology, she headed out to the land of sunshine, oranges and, of course, movie magic. After a brief detour in DC to earn an MBA, Levin headed back to the beach, where she became a film production accountant working on, in her words, “films you’ve never heard of.”  She wrote her first novel at the age of six, and then did not attempt it again until five or so decades later. Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough asked Levin to talk about her enduring love for Tinseltown, and how those screen dreams informed the conception and execution of Hollywood Princess.

YZM: What’s behind the fascination Los Angeles has always had for you?

DL: The history of my fascination with Los Angeles sounds so hokey and not at all intellectual. It’s rooted in pop culture. Growing up, so much of the music I enjoyed either came from artists based in Los Angeles, (Beach Boys, Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, etc.) or the songs referenced the city. California Dreaming? I was. And when I was trapped in Malibu for two weeks by mudslides my first winter, I laughed at the absurdity of “It Never Rains in California.” Seriously, Albert Hammond? He had obviously never experienced an El Nino.

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