Holocaust Memoir

I am pleased that LILITH shared my “Simple Story” with readers [Women’s Holocaust Memoirs, Winter ’94], however Susan Schnur’s editing altered the meaning of two sentences.

“My father and I never grew close” is not an accurate description. It’s true, we didn’t have as open a communication as I would have liked. For example, when I brought him the picture of me standing with my arm around my mother’s matzayva (gravestone), I anticipated sitting down with him and talking about my mother. However, his feelings of sorrow and guilt and my feelings of abandonment were too painful and frightening to communicate. In retrospect I wish desperately we could have shared feelings, but that was not to be.

Second, “So I tried for many years to believe that it was America, not my father, that broke my heart.” When I first came to America, many of my relatives sang me a Yiddish song that had the punch line, “a klog of Columbus’s medina” (“a plague on Columbus’s land”). I had many disappointments here, but more pleasures. Most of the time I thought of the Jews who stayed in Europe, and felt that “there, but for the grace of God, go I.” 

by Sherry Gold, Teaneck, NJ

On Lilith’s 18th

I just received the Winter 1994 issue of LILITH and commend you on it. I have photo-copied the Huppah Quilting Bee piece and will pass that along. We do something similar in our community for the babies. A group of women get together— each taking a square—and, based on a theme such as the holidays, Jewish women, etc., put together a baby quilt. It is always a treasure for the family and a wonderful experience for the women working on it.

Poetry Alert!

While LILITH will continue to receive poetry submissions year round, please know that poetry editor Alicia Ostriker will read poems twice a year, in February and September. Poets can expect to hear about their submissions within eight weeks after the reading period.

by Susan Benin, Victoria, CANADA

Bat Mitzvah Redux

I missed your call for bat mitzvah, experiences last spring. But I’d like to add another permutation to your collection. I was raised in an Orthodox family, educated in a Talmud Torah, and was a rebellious feminist before it was fashionable. I chose a secular Jewish husband who had not been bar mitzvah. In 1985, after 41 years of marriage, we decided to study together and have a joint bar and bat mitzvah at the Worship and Study Minyan at Harvard Radcliffe Hillel. I was not trying to be equal to men. My husband, however, was trying to catch up to me and make our “mixed marriage” one of equals. The occasion was one of the high points in our marriage, a message to our children, grandchildren, and friends about how much our Jewishness means to us. It might be important for women to know that the possibility exists and is well worth the effort.

by Sylvia Rothchild, Chestnut Hill, MA

Tell the Men?

You really made me angry! You may honestly believe you represent the views of the organized Jewish community when you stated “Jewish meetings are where patriarchy lives on” [Winter 1994].

This is not the case where I live. In my Jewish community there is a “complete equality of participation, access and leadership.” Four past presidents have been women. Over the past years our women have been responsible, variously, for Jewish Education, Synagogue and Ritual, Finance, Chevra Kadisha and other committees. They have not walked away from community involvement and have been welcomed and respected for their dedication and commitment by both men and women. They do not know “the secret signs and signals of the underdog.”

This is a small Jewish community with only one synagogue. It is linked with the United Synagogue of America and is egalitarian in practice and philosophy. The members of this community, both men and women, have more pressing issues than the ones you chose to whine about in your editorial. Get real!

by Gladys Rose, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Rose is president of Congregation Agudas Israel. LILITH has reported several times on the statistical evidence that women’s power in a Jewish community is in inverse proportion to the community’s size. See page 40 of this issue for more data.

Did your Jewish marriage end in a Catiiolic annulment?

LILITH has been informed that an observant Catholic cannot marry a formerly married Jew unless his or her partner’s previous marriage is annulled by the Catholic Church. Many Jews are now surprised to find themselves learning a lot about this aspect of canon law— particularly Jewish women whose Jewish exhusbands now want to marry Catholic women. Have you had your Jewish-Jewish marriage annulled by the Catholic Church? If so. and if you’re willing to share your experience, please drop a note to Susan Schnur at LILITH. 250 W. 57 St., #2432, New York, NY 10107.