From the Editor

by Susan Weidman Schneider

LILITH liveth! After more than two years of planning, the editors of LILITH magazine are delighted to know that you are at this very moment reading the premiere issue.

LILITH is named for Adam’s legendary first companion and his equal. Lilith predated Eve, and was originally the embodiment of independent womanhood.

The goal of LILITH, an independent quarterly published by the non-profit Lilith Publications, Inc., is to foster discussion of Jewish women’s issues and put them on the agenda of the Jewish community, with a view to giving women — who are more than 50% of the world’s Jews — greater choices in Jewish life.

As women, we are attracted to much of the ideology of the general women’s movement; as Jews, we recognize that we have particular concerns not always shared by other groups. How do we reconcile our sense of ourselves as worthy individuals while identifying with a religious and social structure that has limited women’s options in the synagogue, the home and the community at large?

There is no other ongoing forum where we can explore these concerns and conflicts, which affect us all regardless of age or background. We need to know what Judaism can offer feminism, and how the women’s movement may change us as Jews. For example: Is marriage necessary for Jewish continuity, or merely oppressive to women? Is volunteer work for the Jewish Establishment exploiting us, or is it a valid form of tzedakah? Why has Jewish history been the history of Jewish men? As this premiere issue demonstrates, we don’t intend to construct rigid dogma; we want to provide for different viewpoints, and we invite articles and letters and questions.

The first issue of LILITH — which we originally planned as a smorgasbord of several topics we will focus on in depth in forthcoming issues — evolved before our very eyes into a collection of articles about stereotypes. In history, literature, religious practice and personal relations, Jewish women have come to accept the concepts of ourselves that others have created for us. Most of the pieces in this landmark issue of LILITH describe in one form or another what we must know about the influences that have shaped us, so that we can move forward and shape our own futures.