January 5, 2017 by Merri Ukraincik
What struck me most when I stepped outside on that December morning was the scent in the air. Not the cold as it pricked my skin like a million shards of glass or the awkward way the sunbeams sliced through the sky. Rather the wintry, almost funereal aroma, like a coat worn for too long before it gets tucked into the back of a closet and forgotten.
I was then expecting our second child. But only my husband and our doctor knew. As we’d done with our eldest, we were waiting until we had passed the precarious first trimester to share the news. Kein ayin hara. We didn’t dare play with fire.
January 3, 2017 by Maya Roman
On the 1st of December, 2016, Ofek Buchris, one of Israel’s most decorated military officers and former head of the Golani brigade, signed a plea bargain admitting to “conduct unbecoming an officer” and “wrongful consensual intercourse”. This admission came after half a year of vehemently denying he had any kind of physical relationship with his two accusers. Following the initial complaints against him, Buchris retired from the military (and therefore will receive his very handsome military pension), promising he would combat the allegations as a civilian. Buchris had initially been charged with rape, sodomy, sexual assault and conduct unbecoming an officer.
Ofek Buchris was considered a national hero, and for some, even after the plea bargain, he still is. He had won the chief of staff citation, a high military honor, for his actions during operation “Defensive Shield” in 2002. He was a decorated soldier and revered leader, one of the guys. Many of his friends and colleagues closed ranks around him and spoke up in the media about his character, claiming he could never have done what he was being accused of committing.
December 31, 2016 by Susan Weidman Schneider
I recall vividly both the JFK assassination and the attacks of 9/11, and a good deal about the emotional response to our current moment feels eerily similar, though no lives have [yet] been lost. The disbelief. The comments that so many feel we should have a shiva ritual for our collective mourning and fear of what’s to come.
As women and as Jews we have experienced enough frightening statements, real threats, vile ideation and a torquing of our expectations these past few months to leave us vertiginous, angry and grieving as toxic strains of misogyny, anti-Semitism, bigotry and bias move rapidly through our world.
December 30, 2016 by Pamela Rafalow Grossman
As I celebrate Hanukkah—and look to January with trepidation—I am thinking of a story from a year ago that reminds me of the strong spirit of this holiday and, more broadly, of the power of community and connection. As long as our hearts remain open, to strangers as strongly as to loved ones, it will be harder for anyone to tear this country apart.
Last December, I saw something on Freecycle that I could not ignore. Freecycle is a great listserv—national, but divided into regional groups—that allows people to post what they have and don’t need or need and don’t have. Baby clothes, electronics, leftover construction materials, and furniture are some items frequently exchanged, all for free. This allows for decluttering, cost saving, and, of course, the many environmental benefits of reusing whatever is reusable.
December 30, 2016 by Helene Meyers
One of the many low points of this year occurred when Donald tried to diss Hillary by calling her a “nasty woman.” Yet feminists across the country immediately rebranded his intended insult: we knew that Donald’s “nasty woman” is one who talks back to bullies, who is competent and in command of facts, and who tweets for a better and more perfect union for all of us.
Jewish feminists in particular have lots of experience reclaiming the insults meant to silence us. In keeping with Lilith’s tradition of praising big-mouthed Jewish women, let’s celebrate seven of the Jewish “nasty women” who made news in 2016 (7 is the number associated with creation and blessing in Jewish tradition). May their collective work inspire us to each do our part to repair a very broken world.
December 29, 2016 by Susan Weidman Schneider
Dear Lilith Reader,
You know the feeling of whiplash. We do, too.
On the one hand, we’re delighted to open for readers like you a window on Jewish women’s lives you see nowhere else. The magazine’s perspective is feminist, its filter is Jewish, and you tell us again and again that Lilith’s award-winning content is unique and memorable.
On the other hand, this is no time to rest on these or any other laurels, dear reader.
The progress Lilith has helped spur in 40 years of fearless writing, and the changes the magazine has witnessed and helped bring about—both in Jewish life and the world at large — has got to keep on keeping on. A toxic blend of misogyny and anti-Semitism is on the rise. More than ever, we need to nurture the next generation of women to engage actively in feminist reporting and nuanced writing on the women’s issues — those human issues — that matter most to us.
Help Lilith continue to publish stories about everything from rabbinic sexual misconduct to radical Jewish women from the 1880s, from genderfluid teens to why Jews have a special stake in reproductive rights.
We appreciate the enthusiastic voices you’re hearing in this letter, from Lilith readers like you who state frankly: We Need More of This! More voices, more unusual perspectives, more good writing and thinking to help us all make sense of what’s coming next. Your support is needed now more than ever as women face dragons we couldn’t have predicted would again need confronting 40 years after Lilith’s launch.
That’s why Lilith invites you to help fund a feminist future. I trust you will be part of insuring that future by contributing to Lilith today. Women like us—you and me—need Lilith’s inclusive, big-tent Judaism and feminism now more urgently than ever.
Your support will sustain Lilith’s work and women’s rights. Rights like respect for women’s aspirations and our bodies, access to safe and legal abortion care and the freedom to worship where and how we choose.
You’re hearing from a wide spectrum of women in this letter telling their friends online about Lilith and why they support this magazine’s crucial work. I hope you’ll do as they did, and give as generously as you can right now.
Because in addition to publishing the award-winning writing and cutting-edge thinking in the print magazine, Lilith is a matrix for emerging writers and thinkers on the Lilith blog, and face-to-face in intergenerational Lilith “salon” groups meeting around the world. Lilith has proudly crafted — some say invented — the banner of Jewish feminism. In Lilith, you see women’s issues through a Jewish lens and Jewish concerns through our unique feminist filter. Lilith inspires action and—importantly—empathetic understanding of lives like and unlike your own.
Your support helps make possible groundbreaking reporting, like these recent pieces:
The paradoxical experiences of a volunteer who returned to her father’s Vienna (from which he was expelled by the Nazis) to help feed and clothe its Syrian refugees.
Feminist therapists on what keeps Israeli women less fulfilled in bed, in a cover story on “Sex in the Promised Land.”
The challenges a lesbian couple face as they search out a welcoming Jewish school for their two sons; “we don’t want them to be tokens.”
Stepmothers! Throwing back the cape to reveal the misogyny behind the sinister stereo- type! Add to the mix religious differences, just to spice up the blended family.
“Why the Jewish Community Should Fund Fertility,” a poignant call for IVF and adoption support; this may be better for the Jews than sending students on free trips to Israel, argues the author.
How a Moroccan Jew merges her identities — and her words — in “Choosing Which Language to Live In.”
Read the first-hand struggle against the prejudices that a twenty-something Jewish woman who uses a scooter and an oxygen tank faces as she confronts barriers both social and physical in her Jewish world
How will Lilith continue to nurture new voices as well as writers like these? The support you give now will help Lilith to discover, teach and nurture a new generation of trouble- makers, nasty women, strident women—all of them terrific writers and incisive reporters. And you’ll be able to read more of their work at Lilith in print and online.
Susan Weidman Schneider
P.S. Please give generously now, so that Lilith can recruit the next generation of iconoclasts.
December 29, 2016 by Danica Davidson
I originally knew Barbie as a doll, a franchise, an iconic figure in many childhoods, and a career woman who wore many hats, both literally and figuratively. It wasn’t until I was tapped by the kids’ comics publisher Papercutz and Mattel to write a Barbie graphic novel that I learned about her Jewish beginnings.
Researching the history of the character while brainstorming, I found many lesser-known facts about her I could relate to. Barbie was originally created by Ruth Handler, a Jewish woman whose parents left Poland for America because of anti-Semitism, just as my family left the Pale of Settlement to escape from pogroms.
December 28, 2016 by Erika Dreifus
When, today, a woman’s right
to wear a prayer shawl
or read from the Torah
or blow a shofar at the Kotel
is actually the focus of a bill submitted to the Knesset,
who can be surprised
that Judith’s story
is excluded from the Tanakh?
For if Judith—
had been granted admission
to those holy pages,
how on earth,
all these centuries later,
could anyone possibly justify
denying her daughters
our own rightful place?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Lilith Magazine.
December 27, 2016 by Yona Zeldis McDonough
I’ve always thought of myself as a girly-girl writer. Although I’ve 10 biographies for kids that appeal to both boys and girls—many of them in the popular Who Was… series—my real love is girl-friendly stories; no fewer than five of my children’s books have the words doll or doll house in their titles. I’m also especially partial to stories involving Jewish girls, as the protagonists of The Doll With the Yellow Star, The Doll Shop Downstairs and The Cats in the Doll Shop will attest. If there was a problem here, I failed to see it and would have been happy to keep spinning my Jewish maidele stories as long as there were audiences for them.
But a chance meeting with an editor from Boys’ Life produced the first crack in my frilly, feminine facade.