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Houston’s Lilith Salon

“My (obese) mother sent me a care package to college with weight-loss pills — and cookies!” After hearing this recollection we had, as you might imagine, a lively discussion about food and families, and heard statistics from one of our participants on eating disorders as a heritable trait.

That the conversation took many paths didn’t surprise anyone.

Since 2005, about 30 verbal, well-read Texas women (all with strong opinions!) have gathered every few months for a Lilith salon. They come from all branches of Judaism, and some are unaffiliated with any synagogue or Jewish organization; meeting to talk with other Jewish women seems to be their Jewish connection. The Lilith topics we’ve chewed over have included legislative battles for reproductive rights; the concealment of mental illness, the power of friendship; and, most recently, Jewish women and their mothers. Thirtysomethings and eightysomethings have a lot to say to each other, it turns out. Reproductive rights is a case in point. An early cover of Lilith, which we had on hand, showed a wire coat hanger, which had no resonance for younger women, unable to envision a world before Roe v. Wade. One woman spoke of her illegal abortion in the 1960s. Another spoke of the importance of lobbying state and national officials to encourage stem cell research. Because a number of us wanted to know what we could do next, we sent out a follow-up letter with suggestions for action.

So how is the Lilith connection different from just plain talk? The magazine’s articles are a resource that keeps us connected to the subject at hand, both as a trigger starting the talk about our own views and as a window onto the experiences of others represented by the sometimes idiosyncratic voices we hear in Lilith. Appreciating this, we concluded one recent salon with a 30th birthday party for the magazine. As a door prize, we gave the winner a copy of the magazine’s first cover, signed by the Lilith editor in chief Susan Weidman Schneider. And the birthday cake (which we did all eat) read LILITH LIVETH!