Our minds/our bodies Who LILITH’s readers are
Jewish women have, for centuries, been conditioned to forego the development of two aspects of life: our capacity for intellectual growth (exclusively the turf of men) and an interest in the pleasures of the body (which was regarded as distracting men from study).
The article on Beruriah, the only woman scholar in all Talmudic literature, zeroes in on attitudes which still seem to prevail at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Conservative rabbinical school which is closed to women.
If Beruriah were alive today, the JTS would neither accept her as a rabbinical student nor as a religious arbiter; i.e., they wouldn’t even go as far as did the sages of the second century!
While authorities at the Conservative and Orthodox rabbinical schools must still regard us as sexually tempting, some other Jewish men in the entertainment world seem to feel that we’re not tempting enough. Everywhere we’ve lectured, audiences ask: Why all the jokes alleging Jewish women are bad bed partners? There are no scientific findings on whether this is possibly true or not, nor is there any data on how Jewish women feel about Jewish men.
The first task, we felt, was to initiate the process of asking questions on this subject and putting some speculations on the table for Jewish women to examine. This is the purpose of our discussion article. It will be a long time before there are definitive answers and analyses—and these will come from you.
In our attempt to find out more about Jewish women—particularly the women who read LILITH—we ran a survey in our premier (Fall ’76) issue. The results show that our readers are located in every state and province and in Israel, Australia, South America and Western Europe, with the New York area (34%) and California (12.2%) having the largest number of LILITH readers. (A complete breakdown is available.)
The many women attracted to this magazine nationwide have a phenomenally high level of education. Nearly 44% have graduate degrees and another 20.4% have done graduate study. Most (84%) have had some Jewish education, whether in yeshivahs, Hebrew day schools, afternoon Hebrew schools, Sunday schools, or in adult programs, and many are dissatisfied with its quality. The majority (57%) belong to Jewish organizations, ranging from Hadassah to tzedakah (Jewish charity) groups for collective giving. More than half our readers have been to Israel, and 48% belong to synagogues. Our readership is clearly concerned about Jewish life and eager for changes to enable all of us to participate in it fully and equally.