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Deborah & Letty

I was most influenced by my bat mtzvah haftarah reading, the story of Deborah. It was February 1952; I was not quite 13. I had never’ encountered Deborah in Hebrew school. I’d only learned about the matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, and Queen Esther, but here was a woman who was in the Tanakh in her own right, not because she was the mother or wife of an important man. Deborah was a prophet, a military commander, and the only woman among the Bible’s thirteen Judges. I was deeply impressed by the fact that she led her people in their victory over the Canaanites and then presided over forty years of peace. Thirty-one centuries passed between the reign of Deborah and the era of Golda Meir. As a little Jewish girl growing up in the 1950’s, I drew my inspiration from both.

P.S. Earlier in my childhood, I loved The Adventures of K’tonton because I was a tiny kid myself. Maybe K’tonton was an unconscious metaphor for the powerlessness of being a girl.

Letty Cottin Pogrebina founding editor of Ms. magazine, is the author of eight books. Her most recent titles are Getting Over Getting Older (Little, Brown, 1996) and Deborah, Golda and Me: Being Female and Jewish in America (Doubleday, 1992).