From the Editor

by Susan Weidman Schneider

One in every three Jewish women in the United States is a member of at least one Jewish women’s organizations—a higher percentage than the national average. The significance behind these large numbers— one million in the U.S. —Is twofold:

First, any shift in the policies or programs within these organizations is going to affect a lot of Jews.

Second, the fact that nearly all adult Jewish women are assumed to be willing and able to give large amounts of time and energy to activities outside the paid labor force raises important questions about how we see our own worth, and how others perceive us too.

Feminism has led more and more women to question both their make-coffee-not-policy positions in volunteer work and volunteerism in general. LILITH staffers who lecture in Jewish communities all over North America have found that volunteerism is the subject of a “great debate” in the community.

There is another reason that we are involved with this issue and that is our own positions as (reluctantly) unsalaried workers on this magazine. Despite its obvious disadvantages, our own position as volunteers gives us insight into and identification with Jewish women’s volunteer activity generally.

The four-part section on volunteerism, beginning on page 16, emerged out of a great deal of discussion, both among ourselves and our colleagues and with members of our lecture audiences. It included a historical overview, a theoretical analysis, as well as personal testimonies of volunteers from two major Jewish women’s volunteer organizations (discussed here specifically because the problems their members face are pertinent in other major Jewish women’s organizations as well).

LILITH receives many letters telling us how the magazine fills a need both for Jewish women—who seek to be participants in a creative Jewish life, and not merely observers—and for Jewish men who want to understand how the other 53% of the Jews live and think.

Alas, we also receive another genre of letters—from subscribers concerned that magazines have not been reaching them on a regular basis, and asking, as did one faithful subscriber “Could readers help in any way”?

You can help, and we hope you will.

A major cause of the delay between issues has been the constant search for operating funds. LILITH has never sought backing from any organization—preferring to remain independent (and thus able to deal with controversial issues such as volunteerism). Our low subscription price does not even cover the cost of printing and mailing the magazine.

LILITH’s survival and growth depends on its readers. If each of you, our 10,000 readers, gives at least one gift subscription, LILITH will appear in your mailbox more frequently. Do yourself and a friend a favor now. Introduce someone to LILITH as a gift for Chanukah, Bat Mitzvah, graduation, host/hostess gift for instance, on all the occasions when you might give a book, give a subscription to LILITH.

To ensure that LILITH continue to flourish as the nation’s only independent Jewish women’s magazine we need to grow.

Please be part of this growth.