Are You Prepared to Listen?

Are you prepared to listen?

This issue of Lilith has revelations aplenty, some from unexpected sources, as we discovered while the magazine was in its editing stages. I’m asked about once a week—and more often than that when we’re in the process of interviewing prospective interns—how we decide what to publish, and whether there’s a theme for the issue in process. Truth is, we rarely start with one overarching idea for an issue’s content, but sometimes the zeitgeist or the current preoccupations of Jewish feminists will jump out at us as we shape the magazine. That’s what happened this time as we were led to our cover line: Unfaithful.

Listening to the writers in this issue, I’ve learned many things; your takeaways may differ. When I listened to women proposing questions for any next big survey of North American Jews, I learned what (and, importantly, who) those previous agenda-shaping demographic studies missed about how people actually live out our diverse Jewish identities. When I read the three short stories here, I became privy to lurking dissatisfactions in marriage. Although no subject was suggested to writers when Lilith announced its annual fiction contest, this year the winning works are all, coincidentally, driven by challenges to these intimate relationships. One of them, to my surprise, hints that mother-daughter closeness might be a driver.

Listening to an Other who is a stranger is part of the hard work going on at the School for Peace created by Nava Sonnenschein, as Israeli Jews and Arabs try to dissolve calcified suspicions and really hear what’s being spoken about violence, women’s issues and the obstacles to overcoming ingrained hostility.

And then there are foremothers. While I didn’t always listen attentively enough to my own mother’s life experiences, I found Alice Shalvi’s multivalent activism and Matilda Robbins’s unflinching toughness—both featured in this issue—to be exemplars of brave resiliency. Both are worth knowing better. Here’s to many more opportunities for listening, attentively, to strong women.

A change in this issue.

You may already have noticed something new on the facing page. Lilith, as a nonprofit organization, depends for its strength and survival on the generosity of donors like you. And we’re changing the ways we recognize our indispensable donors. Not only are there new (and more Lilith-like) names for our the donation categories, but we’ve also added a dollar range with these donation levels.

Why? Because philanthropy is changing. According to the Women’s Funding Network, the future of philanthropy is female. Almost three out of four donors worldwide are women. Of the impending $41 trillion wealth transfer between generations, 70% will be inherited by women. And women give away almost twice as much of their wealth away as men do.

At the same time, for many women, our philanthropy has been in the shadows. One of Lilith’s longtime fans articulated a valuable response when I asked her opinion about listing levels of support on our donor page: “My support for Lilith is not at the level of a bake sale. It takes real money for this very real magazine to do the work it does. And I’m realizing how proud I am of helping make this happen.”

Lilith is thankful to all the women and the men who make our work possible at every level of support and we proudly list our partners. There is gratitude all around—for the donors and readers, writers, artists and staffers alike who make Lilith happen. To all, we say… Thank you!

Susan Weidman Schneider

Editor in Chief