I loved Shulamith Reinharz’s powerful piece on Manya Shohat [Fall 1995]. I joined HaShomer HaTzair as a child, in the 1950’s; no one ever told us about this bold, magnificent, contemporary heroine. Learning about her strengthens my feminist resolve.
Also thanks to Susan Weidman Schneider for the account of her daughter Yael’s Bat Mitzvah at and near the Kotel, with the assistance of Women of the Wall. This is our dream, manifested—almost. To participate in this ongoing struggle for women’s equality at Jerusalem’s Western Wall now in its 7th year, please send your (tax-exempt) check to Rabbi Helene Ferris, International Committee for Women of the Wall, Inc., 215 Hessian Hills Rd., Croton, NY 10520. Phyllis Chesler Brooklyn, NY
LILITH’s excerpt of my Book of Blessings [Fall 95] contains some errors: specifically, the replacement of “dwells” by “swells” in the fourth line of my Sh’ma. (Isn’t it amazing how a single consonant can make the difference between solemnity and purple prose?) and the mislabeling of the masculine and feminine versions of Blessing the Beloved (in both the Hebrew text and the transliteration). The unfortunate thing is that these bloopers will be undetectable as such to many people (I have a tragicomic vision of lesbian couples now using completely male language to bless each other). Because the book is not out yet (and won’t be out for several months), and because LILITH is the first (the only!) place to run these excerpts, and because my Sh’ma is the single most important (and probably most controversial, hence most quotable) prayer in the book, I fear that these errors will be reproduced and even codified if they are not nipped in the bud. Could LILITH make a suitably prominent correction in its next issue, reprinting the text of a least the opening four lines of the Sh’ma?
Hear, O Israel— The divine abounds everywhere and dwells in everything: the many are One.
by Marcia Falk, Berkeley, CA
I use Susan Weidman Schneider’s pieces on “Jewish Women’s Philanthropy” [Winter and Fall 1993] in a number of ways. I have used the pieces to do a reality check with women’s solicitors, with major givers who are women, with solicitors of women’s gifts, and one-on-one when I solicit gifts personally.
Second, I use the pieces with men who desperately need this information and the sensitivity to deal with it appropriately.
In our own community our annual Federation campaign has declined dramatically because of severe economic circumstances. A ray of hope has been our women’s division, which has made women’s tzedakah an honored norm. The caring and involvement of women beyond only writing a check is extraordinary, and much needed. Cindy Chazan West Hartford, CT
Eat Your Manna!
Not so fast! Cleaning one’s plate [Summer 1994] and not wasting food may be a hangover from the Depression or the Shoah; and it may be neurotic. But among some Orthodox Jews it is customary not only to clean one’s plate but to gather the crumbs around one’s plate and eat them before Birkat Ha’mazon. Among Hassidim this has been raised to a ritual when students and admirers literally gather the crumbs from their master’s table and eat them. I think the origin is that blessed food must not be thrown into the trash. Or it may be some commentary on the manna that had to be finished. Anyhow. The mothers and grandmothers who advocated clean plates may simply have been carrying on a tradition whose origins they had forgotten, or never knew. Wonderful issue, by the way.
by Lili Krakowski, Constableville, NY
I write from Israel about Rabin’s funeral. From what I saw, the prime minister of Turkey, speaker of the German Bundesdag and Queen of Holland were the only women who were not there as “wives of.” The ceremonies highlighted the centrality of men in our society. All those who eulogized were men, except for the granddaughter. Hers was a private voice. Leah Rabin was perfect as widow—the woman who always stood by and behind her husband and whose total life was devoted to him and creating a home for him and their children.
I was touched by that last scene before the murder—Rabin leaving the stage—he stops and looks where is his wife Leah. He wants her by his side. She is clearly very dear to him. Leah and Yitzchak had met when they were both in the Palmach. She told a group of women who gathered at her home—I among them—a few years ago that Rabin had suffered as a child because his mother, active in the political life of the country, was rarely home. He wanted a wife who would be a full-time homemaker, and she agreed to that role.
At the vigil before the funeral a TV camera asked a man in army uniform, “Does this strengthen you as a soldier, as a parachutist?” “As a person” came the reply. For him, being strengthened as a human being was what this was all about.
And what are the implications for women? I think they have the potential to be tremendous. Rabin’s murder has delegitimated staying silent over acts that endanger democracy and weaken the moral fabric of society. I hope women will take courage from this and be more empowered to speak up.
by Dafna Izraeli, Tel Aviv