From the Editor

In our Fall issue (#17), LILITH ran an investigative report and analysis of the escalation of attacks on “JAPs“— “Jewish American Princesses”—on college campuses and elsewhere.

The story received a great deal of media attention—from reports in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Philadelphia Inquirer and other dailies and the Associated Press to radio and TV interviews. A great deal of the media attention was generated by a press luncheon to showcase the issue, held at the American Jewish Committee headquarters in New York.

Julia Wolf Mazow, LILITH’s Fiction Editor, had initiated an innovative plan to convince Houston rabbis to denounce this stereotyping of Jews by other Jews. Houston attorney Sherry Merfish, who has continued Mazow’s work, was one of the featured speakers at the press luncheon, along with author Francine Klagsbrun—whose thoughts about why the “JAP‘” stereotype is getting a new lease on life right now appeared in #17—and LILITH editor-in-chief Susan Weidman Schneider.

Along with the general misogyny that undergirds this smear of Jewish women is the anti-Semitism embodied in the sentiment that Jews are not entitled to the same material comforts and status symbols that the American culture tells all individuals to aspire to.

In this issue, two pieces under the rubric “Love, Then and Now” look at whether or not Jewish women are entitled to romantic bliss.

The first one is the story of Michal, the only woman in the Bible to fall in love. Nehama Aschkenasy, who teaches courses in women in world literature, provides insights as to why Michal is treated so harshly not only by David, the object of her passion, but also by the teller of this tale.

An unhappy-ending story of 3,000 years later comes to us from the soap opera “Days Of Our Lives.” Here, a long-running story-line featured a Jewish woman who falls in love with one of her non-Jewish medical colleagues— but is not allowed to live happily ever after. Naomi Pfefferman reports from Los Angeles on why.

And speaking of happy—and unhappy—endings, Adena Berkowitz’s article on Jewish divorce {get) discusses how—and why—the fight for the rights of the aguna (woman whose husband refuses to give her a get, leaving her in limbo) has moved to different venues: to the secular courts and even into the streets.

Little progress on get is being made in the halachic (Jewish legal) sphere. This—and other halachic matters that especially affect women—will be dealt with in responsa to your questions in future issues to be written by outstanding women scholars including Rachel Adler, Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, Adena Berkowitz, Rachel Biale, Rabbi Amy Eilberg, Rabbi Joan Friedman, Blu Greenberg, Beverly Gribetz and Judith Hauptman.

Conflict is the subject of Andrea King’s report from Jerusalem on how Ethiopian women are trying to reconcile the multitude of options now available to them in Israeli society (to study, to work, to move freely outside the home) with the destruction of traditional customs that had great meaning for them in their country of origin, such as living in a menstrual hut for the week of their periods. As feminists, we ask: is this liberating or oppressive?

One new immigrant to Israel whose feelings are those of total joy is Ida Nudel (see Kol Ishah). LILITH’s Women’s Appeal for Nudel, signed by thousands of our subscribers (so many that we could not list them here as we did in #16 and #17), provided a strong signal to the Soviets of the popular support for her right—and the rights of all the other refuseniks—to be reunited with their relatives in Israel.

In #16, we quoted from a letter by Nudel to British historian Martin Gilbert about her wish to celebrate Chanukah in Israel. Now that dream will come true. Her letter calls on us to “remember those [the refuseniks] who, despite the persecutions and harassment, will celebrate our holiday, who will light candles, who will tell their children about the history and dignity of the people they belong to.”