Although usually in this space I write about some specific topic that concerns us as Jewish women, I wanted to share with you this time some sense of how this issue’s contents actually got shaped, and the ways in which we find some articles, and others find us.
One of the most striking articles here came to us unsolicited, in the form of a small packet of photographs “over the transom!’ They showed porcelain dolls made by Trudie Strobel, a child survivor of the Holocaust who initially wanted only the photos to run in the magazine unaccompanied by any text about the artist. But we were equally interested in the story of Strobel herself, and the motive behind her painstaking crafting of these exact replicas. Features Editor Susan Schnur spent much time on the telephone with Strobel as they discussed her works and those details of her own life she was willing to impart to LILITH’s readers. The result in “Badges of Shame” is, I think, a quite remarkable testimony to the possibility of deriving something positive out of overwhelming devastation.
The short piece that ends this issue—a meditation on raising an autistic child by Rachelle Namak—also came to the office unsolicited. At first we wanted to trim it down to letter size, since it was so clearly in response to the articles we had run in past issues about high-achieving Jewish women and their relationships with family members. But it wasn’t a full-length article. Its special poignancy warranted a special setting; we decided to feature it on our back page.
With these two features and the memoir by Edna Manes, childhood inadvertently became a sub-theme of this issue. “A Childhood Without Parents” was submitted to LILITH by Manes’ granddaughter!
Other stories were generated, as they say, “in house!’ We had long been fans of the poetry and criticism of Alicia Ostriker, and are delighted to publish here some new midrashim, or revised Biblical tales, she has written. The ways we read the Bible will be changed after we absorb Ostriker’s retellings.
For some time we’d been hearing from women all across the continent who were celebrating Bat Mitzvah ceremonies as adults, bringing to the occasion and to their own lives a new consciousness. Ruth Mason’s story pulls together some fascinating accounts about the motives behind—and the consequences of—adult Bat Mitzvah for women of different ages and backgrounds. The phenomenon suggests the unexpected changes in synagogue life that follow.
Both Ruth Mason’s and our cover story on Jewish women in American politics by Miriam Arond are subjects we assigned because we ourselves were fascinated by them. I hope you will be too.
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