The lesbian story by Carla Cantor [Summer 1989] seemed to be saying, very subtly, that as lesbians get more “nuclear-family-like” there’s more reason for hope that the Jewish community will accept us. Maybe if we have visibly happy “marriages’,’ have babies, other Jews will come to see that we are just like they are and they’ll recognize us as human and welcome us in their shuls.
I find this disturbing, since it leaves outside those of us — including straight women — who are not interested in marriages and having or adopting children, and it splits us off from those lesbians who do make that choice. I think the real challenge to Judaism is to stretch a home-and-family-centered religion, culture, etc. to be something more, something wider.
Janet Berkenfeld, Jamaica Plain MA
WOMEN’S OPTIONS IN ISRAEL
Your detailed coverage of the continuing harassment of the “Women of the Wall” [Summer 1989] made me think a little more about the issues involved.
One aspect of the story is truly surprising, and that is the behavior of the secular Israeli authorities — both the police and the courts — in this sad affair. Why is it that these forces have sided with the haredim?
Part of the answer probably is the general tendency of secular Israelis to believe that all religion is so outdated and worthless that any attempt to make it relevant to the 20th century is futile and not to be encouraged.
But one must also consider the stated goal of those secular Israeli institutions that have opted to abridge the rights of the “Women of the Wall,” They claim that they always follow the simple principle of not allowing any changes in the style of worship at the Wall. But I don’t think so. There are other innovative things that have been done at the Wall that infuriate the haredim, but are defended by the local secular authorities; e.g. special prayers at the Wall on Israeli Independence Day or on the anniversary of the 1967 reunification of Jerusalem.
It is a wasted effort to try to change the haredim. Those who are interested in helping the “Women of the Wall” should be concentrating on selling the case of a revitalized religiosity to secular Israeli society.
Rabbi Marty Lockshin, Toronto
Unfortunately there are times when even those we love and admire disappoint us. So it was when I received my summer 1989 issue of LILITH. The story about the “Women at the Wall” was accurate and important. But … your cover lead naming the “Wailing” wall was not. Jews have never called “The Western Wall” (of the Temple) the “The Wailing Wall.” This was the description used by non-Jewish observers of the men davening. And yet … maybe you weren’t that wrong. Perhaps the stones themselves lament the treatment of women who wish to pray at this holiest of Jewish places.
Deborah Fuller Hahn, Fort Lauderdale FL
I never expected to come across an ethnic slur in a feminist magazine, but I did just that in your Summer 1989 issue. In “My Mother the Feminist,” of all places.
After being turned down for the job of a clerk because, according to the employer, “Jews are so loud and boisterous,” the feminist mother notices at once — and comments upon — the “brassy voice of the Irish office manager.” Gee, really? She identified the woman as being Irish because she was so vulgar, so crude, so loud? We (I’m also Irish) are easy to pick out just about anywhere you go because we have such undesirable traits. This isn’t the first time I read or heard uncomplimentary (to say the least) remarks. I never thought I’d read it in a Jewish feminist — or any other feminist — publication.
Charlotte Koch, Shedd OR
ANNETTE DAUM REMEMBERED
I only recently read of your establishment of the Annette Daum Memorial Project. It is indeed a fitting tribute to Annette. Her initial interest was in the field of what is now known as Jewish feminist women. From that her vision grew to encompass the larger area of interreligious relations.
Annette was a vigorous and totally straightforward person. I hope your project will reflect her realism and her values.
Rabbi Balfour Brickner, New York City