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Letters

Dear Sisters,

Mazeltov and toda raba [thanks]. Your (no, OUR) new publication is beautiful. When I finished reading the magazine —every morsel—I felt as if I’d been embraced.

Reva M. Gross, Atlanta, Ga.

Dear Editors:

I’m very pleased to see that American Jewish women now have a magazine to explore issues of special concern to them. Two years ago a conference called Tzena was held in Philadelphia for women who wanted to examine some of these issues. There was money left over from the conference and since we feel that your magazine is continuing the work that our conference was interested in, we would like to donate this money to you. We hope our donation will help LILITH in reaching many women.

Lessa F. Garnish., (Chairperson, Tzena), University City, Mo.

Dear Friends:

I have just read the second issue of LILITH from cover to cover and enjoyed it immensely. The interview with Phyllis Chesler was so wonderful, and said so many things that we would never have dared to say years ago, that it made my back teeth ache. Keep up your good work.

Clara Lavine, Sarasota, Fla.

Dear Ms.,

Reading the Chesler interview made me feel as if I were on a seesaw. I think the division between men and women at the Western Wall should be eliminated if for no other reason than the fact that such a religious approach verges on idol worship of a wall.

But on the other hand, I disagree with her thinking that a government with a strong religious party is a theocracy. Almost every country in the world has a religious character to it and most have religious parties of varying influence. The phrase “Jewish Vatican” is symptomatic of a tendency in feminist thinking to yoke together the most unlikely ideas. In this kind of thinking, a patriarchal religious culture becomes synonymous with a patriarchal social structure, whereas in fact they may not reflect upon each other. All the major existing religions, except possibly Hinduism, were founded by men and are patriarchal in structure. Nor does it follow that where a religion allows for goddesses and priestesses that the social status of women is elevated.

Dr. Roberta Kalechofsky, Marblehead, Mass.

Dear Editors,

It was rewarding to read of Dr. Chesler, who does meaningful work in the general culture and who retains such a sense of spiritual nurture from her own Judaism.

Leni Crounse, Omaha, Neb.

Your interview with Phyllis is terrific! And the second issue looks great. 

Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Ms. Magazine, New York, N. Y.

Dear Editors,

I am the teacher-director of a preschool for Jewish children. There is an appalling lack of quality in literature for the young Jewish child. Beyond this is the fact that whatever is available stereotypes women as wives, mothers, enablers, caregivers and nurturers.

There has been so much research done on the importance of establishing positive role models. How can we Jews, who profess to be so concerned about education, completely ignore our own young children? I would like to see an article in LILITH directing iteself to this problem.

Lois Stanley, New York, N.Y.

Dear LILITH,

We want to thank you for “Electra the Maccabee” (second issue). Jan read it to her third and fourth grade kids in Sunday school. They were captivated by it and afterward played “Pin Elisheva on the elephant.”

We liked the points the story made for Jewish feminism and Jewish identification. It also emphasized the Jew as freedom fighter and not as warrior. The high point for us was when Elisheva did not heed the suggestion to go home like a good girl and let the men fight, but replied that it was her fight as much as any other Jew’s.

The important aspect of this story is that the kids really ate it up, the sad point is that we do not have enough of this high-quality material for the kids, so it has limited impact. If you know of any other people interested in producing alternative material for Yiddishe kinder, let us know.

Jan and Su, Gavin Levyatan, Berkeley, Cal.

Ed. note: Readers may be interested in the second Conference on Alternative Jewish Education scheduled for August 24-29, 1977, Rochester, N.Y. For information contact Tzadok, 15 East 26 St., N.Y.C. 10010.

Dear Women,

My personal ovation to Bob Lamm’s “Fear of Feminism” (in LILITH’s premiere issue). Having been involved with the perfect model of the role of male dominance that the author discusses, I never could quite understand why he guiltlessly defended his chauvinism with “but that’s how I was brought up.” Now I understand it all too well and with it, the pathology that was masked by his “caring concern of my interests.”

Barbara Kellerman, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Dear Sisters,

LILITH is the best thing to be published in years. I hope you will voice your protest as I already have, to the Israel Aliyah offices. Their aliyah (immigration to Israel) applications are very sexist. For example, they say, “your picture” and next to it “wife’s picture.” They assume that the male (boss) is filling it all out. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us to smash patriarchy. Shalom.

Dov Klein, Tucson, Ariz.

Dear LILITH,

I love your magazine. It makes me realize that I’m not alone in my frustration and pain in being a Jewish woman. Maybe my daughter will have an easier time of being herself.

Avie O. Cohen, M.D., Birmingham, Ala.

Editor,

As a middle-ager, I confess to some timidity about pricking my consciousness too much lest it springs leaks too hard to handle…. I’ll risk it. A suggestion: perhaps LILITH could provide an occasional “Consciousness Call” feature to call out attention to the many fictions and frictions imposed on our psyches via literature.

For instance, as I read Dr. Dyer’s recent best seller Your Erroneous Zones, I wondered why he chose to identify ethnically only one of his numerous case histories: a Jewish man with mama problems. Maybe I’m getting super sensitive. Or maybe only Jewish people are worthy of identification when negative images are projected….

Miriam Jaffe, San Mateo, Cal.

Dear LILITH,

I believe our great task is “creating ourselves.” This means innovation, experimentation and new pathways. I have seen these in the first 2 issues. Keep it up.

Kate Koelle, Seattle, Wash.

Dear LILITH:

I am an Orthodox Jewish woman, 24, who attended yeshivah through the 12th grade, had my “consciousness raised” while attending Barnard College, and most recently received my M.A. one month after giving birth to our daughter. I was brought up in a home where I was encouraged to pursue my studies and a career and to fulfill whatever potential I, as a person, had. I hope to encourage my daughter in the same way.

I believe that Judaism, as it exists now, is often discriminatory to women. Although I would like to see those aspects changed, the fact that I choose to be Orthodox compels me to integrate my feminist beliefs within a framework of halachah.

Enclosed is the subscription for LILITH which I am sending in the hope that you will not forget your Orthodox sisters who cannot, will not and wish not to relinquish a halachic way of life while supporting the feminist cause. I hope LILITH will speak not only to those who want to completely tear down the mechitzah [separation of the sexes at prayer] but also to those of us who want to change its position yet remain on its other side.

Renee Septimus New York, N.Y.

Dear LILITH,

I was somewhat dismayed by some of the implications of “The High Price of Failure” (premiere issue). Like the author, Mary Cahn Schwartz, I have known some castrating “Jewish” mothers and some spoiled “Jewish” American Princesses. However, not all of them were in fact Jewish and I resent the characterization of these personality types as Jewish types.

I am reminded of an incident several years ago when a relative said, upon first seeing my baby daughter, “She’s so pretty, she’s just like a little shiksah.” If we are pretty or graceful or witty or elegant—no matter we are Jewish—we are just like shiksahs. Conversely, if we are cruel or selfish, castrating or destructive, no matter if we are Catholic, Baptist, Moslem or atheist, we are “Jewish” mothers or “Jewish” American Princesses.

Sheila Adelman Abrams, Drexel Hill, Pa.

Dear Madame,

Judaism is basically a home-centered, family-oriented religion. This makes it very difficult for single-parent families to fully enjoy the holidays, to participate easily in the rhythm of Jewish life. Most of the single-parent family units are headed by women and many have never acquired the skills necessary to celebrate Jewish occasions.

The older single Jewish woman who is still independent and living privately also needs attention. No, she does not want to be patronized nor does she want a Golden Age club. Maybe by exchanging ideas, using your publication as the vehicle, we can begin to list the needs of this group and look for solutions.

Vivian Bricklin Levin, Washington, D.C.

Dear Editors,

Before LILITH made its debut, the only magazines available to Jewish feminists were Ms. or those published by Jewish women’s organizations—which were devoted to fund-raising rather than helping Jewish women become aware of themselves as individuals. LILITH is the ideal magazine for the feminist who is also committed to her Jewish heritage.

Nancy Leah Dudwick, Silver Spring, Md.

Dear Women,

I’m enclosing a gift subscription for my daughter. I hope LILITH’s circulation will be wide enough to raise the consciousness of Jewish women everywhere. May it serve to enlighten our men to the fact that our (female) Jewish souls cry out for responsible participation in prayer alongside them.

Estelle Silbert Nashville, Tenn.

Please send a gift subscription to my wife. I hope I don’t live to regret it.

Melvin L. Zurier, Providence, R.I.

Dear LILITH Sisters,

I bought your magazine yesterday for the first time. Now I know the meaning of “Trust in God—She Will Provide.” She has—in introducing me to you. In sisterhood,

Tarnara Saltiel, San Francisco, Cal.