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Letters

Keep running ads for Good Vibrations! It’s a good-humored, woman-positive enterprise, and an important resource for women who want to explore (and enjoy!) their sexuality without braving sleaze stores.

Splitting our bodies from our spirits cripples both.

Shalom, by SUSAN ROTHBAUM, Minneapolis, MN

I have enjoyed my subscription to LILITH for four years (it was a gift to myself when I graduated from medical school) Why do I value LILITH so much? For the intellectual stimulation, for information I do not receive from any other source, for contemporary women’s literature, and especially for inspiration. In today’s social climate, we desperately need more awareness of women as role models—strong biblical women (after all, the magazine is named for Lilith, not Eve), women immigrants, women during the Holocaust, and women in all walks of life who are blazing trails previously closed to us.

This is precisely why LILITH must continue to print this and similar ads. Women who enjoy vibrators and other sex toys have broken away from the idea that the only “correct” sex is with men who are somehow supposed to know what we want, and hopefully, will give it to us. We must affirm our right to enjoy our sexuality, either alone or with a partner. We are, after all, responsible for and entitled to our own pleasure.

As an AIDS educator, I was happy to see the term “safe sex” in the ad. In this era of AIDS, the only true safe sex is solo sex. Because of the questions about a partner’s drug and sexual history and the unreliability of condoms, I use the term “safer sex” when discussing sex with a partner.

An active, joyous sex life is not incompatible with intellect and spirituality. Let’s continue to advertise Good Vibrations in LILITH!

by CINNDI DAVIDSON, D.O. Wells, ME

A radical feminist in the early 70’s, I became totally involved in the women’s liberation movement. Working with other passionately political women in the NYC chapter of NOW, I was very active in many political actions to achieve equality for women.

In 1972 the chapter sponsored a Women’s Sexuality Conference and I was appointed coordinator. It was the first time in history that women were getting together to talk openly about sex and their own sexual lives. Highly successful, it was attended by over 1500 women. It was at this time that I became totally conscious of the fact that the way the patriarchy had succeeded in enslaving women was by denying us control over our own bodies and our own sexuality. I decided to embark on a business venture that I felt would empower women to reclaim their sexuality and reclaim their power. And so, my sex boutique, Eve’s Garden, was created in 1974. When I am often asked, “How come a nice Jewish girl like you started a sex business?”, I say, “to empower women to reclaim their self-esteem and sexual power, to change the world.”

I recall that Eve’s Garden ran a small ad in LILITH in the early years of its publication and was totally accepted. That is why I am so saddened to learn that several readers have expressed regret that LILITH has accepted an ad from another woman owned erotica business. Somehow it feels to me (and I’m now 70 years old) as if the clock is turning back.

And yet, even as I write this I see a paradox, and that is that if my consciousness had not been raised twenty years ago, I, too, might have written a similar letter under the same circumstances. My Jewish upbringing left me with an enormous feeling of shame about my body and tremendous guilt about having sex. So, it would be very normal to feel that any manifestation of sex, either in a visual or written image or in an ad for a vibrator, would become something “inappropriate for LILITH” or “in poor taste.” Had it not been for the women’s movement, I might have said that too.

It’s time, finally, to start taking a sex positive stand in a sex-negative culture, to be proud to be sexual women, to begin to view our sexuality as a thing of beauty, honor, integrity and sacredness. Time to reclaim and celebrate our sexuality. And be really proud of it.

by DELL WILLIAMS Eve’s Garden, New York, NY

P.S. If you wish to receive a copy of our catalog, which expresses Eve’s Garden’s feminist philosophy, and is committed to women’s sexual liberation, send your name and address to Eve’s Garden, 119 W. 57th St., Suite 420, NYC 10019. If you let us know that you are a LILITH subscriber we will send the $3.00 catalog at no charge if you include a SASE (#10 envelope) with your request.

Just had to tell you at LILITH how thrilled I was to see your cover story on lesbian weddings in your last issue—it made my day. As a Jewish lesbian medical student, I understand Rosanne’s and Judy’s difficulty bridging their Jewish and lesbian dimensions, and I am inspired by their courage to come out to and invite their extended families and colleagues to their Brit-Ahavah (covenant of love.)

My lover of two years was recently not invited to my high school friends traditional Jewish wedding because my friend didn’t want to make a “political statement” (as she put it) at her wedding. She told me she was afraid that we might slow dance together and her relatives would talk.

I hope the day comes soon when all weddings are occasions to celebrate all kinds of loving relationships. Thanks to LILITH for helping that day come sooner.

by DEIDRE TOVAH PEARL Stanford, CA

I read the letter by Elsie Goldstein about putting an orange on your seder plate because some rabbi said “a woman belongs on the bimah like an orange on a seder plate.” Zohar Wilbush, Curator Emeritus at the Israel Museum, told me many years ago about preparations in the summer and early Fall for the next year’s Passover. One of the special delicacies that everyone looked forward to was fresh oranges on the Passover table. To have this, during the orange growth season, they would set aside the most perfect oranges, dig a huge hole in the ground and put in the oranges covered with layers of fine sand to keep them fresh. The hole was filled to the top and covered with a board.

When Passover approached, the hole would be opened and the oranges removed one at a time and handled with great care and reverence. By and large this method of preservation worked , and Israelis proudly graced their tables with oranges.

I would like to see this Yerushalmi (Jerusalemite) tradition revised. It is not only a nice way to share a non-shtetl memory but the orange belongs on the table just as the woman belongs on the bimah.

by ITA ABER Yonkers, NY

In SPRING 1992, LILITH ran a story by our editor Susan Schnur on Passover rituals including a new ritual-cum-artifact called “Miriam’s Cup” (“Kos Miryam”). Miriam’s Cup is intended to be used at the seder as a bracket to the well-established ceremony of Elijah’s cup (the latter, a goblet of wine, offered near the end of the seder; the former, a goblet of spring water, sipped near the beginning). Here Susan updates how the ritual worked in her home:

Besides the regular festive Passover table, we set up, in another room, a low, altar-type table specifically in honor of the prophetess Miriam. Each guest brought a candle, candle holder, and object(s) representing “a personal step towards freedom, ” and the table soon became a beautiful reliquary of passports, bathing suits, books, field glasses, flowers, running shoes, acupuncturist’s business cards, tadpoles, photographs, mourning ribbons, feathers, railroad ties, wedding rings, hats and rocks. After singing “Zol Zein” and “When I’m On My Journey Don’t You Weep After Me, ” people spoke individually of their gratitude at having been “brought from the narrows into their own personal promising wildernesses,” explained their objects and lit their candles.

It soon became not only a warm, spiritual and beautiful room, but it became clear how both Elijah and Miriam belong at our seders. Passover, with its yearly recurrence, reinforces for us the reality of two kinds of time: the cyclic (Miriamic), as well as the linear (Elijah-like, culminating in a redemptive end-of-time). We revisit the old themes of Passover each year in retrograde homage, but we also greet each new agricultural year by being predictably just plain older. Elijah’s stay in the desert was that of the lone, howling visionary; Miriam’s life there was one of tireless tribal parenting—she herself was a constant source of nurturance, hope, a spiritual oasis.

The complementarity of Elijah and Miriam surfaced naturally:

ELIJAH
sky
history
apollonian
prophetic
transcendent
goal
male
millenial
solar

MIRIAM
earth
nature
dionysian
ecstatic
immanent
process
female
quotidian
lunar

and so on…

Do you have Miriamic improvisations of your own? If so, LILITH would be delighted to hear them.

I am a recent immigrant from the former USSR. I was born in Belorussia in 1909. Ten years later my older brother, Hatskel, who was born in 1899, immigrated to the USA. Can you imagine that I h a v e n ‘ t seen or heard from my brother for so many years? When I came to this country I was sure that I would find my brother But all my efforts were unsuccessful.. My last hope is your newspaper. Maybe somebody knows if my brother is still alive, or something about his family.

Our last name phonetically spelled is Mayzel. Spelling of it might be different as “Maizel”, “Maisel “, “Maysel.” When my brother immigrated in 1920’s from Romanovo village of Belorussia, his first name was “Hatskel,” I know that he used to live in New York and in late 1950’s he moved to the suburbs. When he lived in New York he used to have a food business. He has a son who is a Doctor, but unfortunately his first name is unknown. I have some pictures from my brother’s wedding and his son’s Bar Mitzvah.

If somebody knows something about my brother and his family, it would be greatly appreciated if you would inform me about that at my address: 321 Elmora Avenue, #203, Elizabeth, NJ 07208.

by ABEL MAYZEL

LILITH is a very important part of my life. I am a Jew and a feminist and finally I am being recognized and spoken to. So understand that this negative letter is written with sadness. In the current issue, in the article on Politics 1992, no mention is made of the only all-female, pro-Israel Pac, “Joint Action Committee.” In the struggle to have Jewish women take an active dollar-power role in politics your readers should know about the only all-volunteer action organization that supports the single issue of Israel: Joint Action Committee, P.O. Box 105, Highland Park IL 60035, President Ms. Marcia Balonick, 708-433-4774.

by MARSHA LEIFER North Miami Beach, FL

I would like to suggest to you that you do an article on the dearth of young Jewish women on TV sit-coms. The only one I know of is the illegitimate daughter on “The Powers That Be. ” There is no scarcity of young Jewish men, and lo and behold, they are all involved with non-Jewish women. This possibly reflects the fact there there are a great many Jewish sitcom writers on TV, and very likely all married to non-Jewish women. I think this situation should be exposed and protested. By the way, I am 81. Am enclosing contribution of $100.

MARY COHART New Haven, CT

In your “From the Editor” [Summer 19921 you write, justifiably so, about the harmful reality of discrimination based on weight and looks. The story told by Jewish women college students was illuminating: how often have we all spent precious time and energy discussing weight, food, diet, etc? However, your conclusion, “To make no more mention of weight, size, physical perfections or imperfections when I greet someone or when I describe her, ” is fallacious, though well-meaning. If, as you write, people have “not much more control over their bodies’ shape than they do over the color of their eyes,” aren’t you being pointless in failing to use descriptions like “thin” or “fat,” just as you would be absurd if you shied away from “green-eyed” or brown haired”?

What I propose is that we destigmatize the word “fat,” and return it to its rightful place as an adjective, not a moral thermometer.

If you are averse to any and all adjectives for fear of being racist or weight-obsessed, what of fear of sexism? Is is acceptable to describe a visitor as a female, rather than a male? If I merely said, “A person came to see me,” I am being purposefully vague. So “tall” is permissible but “slender” is not?

By the way, I’m fat. Or chubby? Voluptuous? Zaftig‘! I too look forward to a time where my other attributes—my intelligence, my sense of humor—can be appreciated and/or dismissed, not merely the size of my thighs.

by DIANE SALZBERG Valencia, CA