Orthodoxy’s Open Door

I am a modern Orthodox Jewish woman of American Indian and African-American descent. As an active member of New York’s Orthodox community, I am incredulous that “a Jewish mother who is raising the son she conceived with a black man to be a traditionally observant Jew” (“Are You Black or Are You Jewish?” Fall 1996) would not be welcomed in an Orthodox shul. In Orthodox communities, we welcome any Jew who tries to embrace a Torah-observant lifestyle.

I’m certainly not denying that there are die-hard militants and bigots out there, but they exist largely on the margins of their communities. You have represented them as if they are the norm.

by Camille Davies
Forest Hills, NY

I’ve been a fan since your very first issue (I’ve saved them all). In a cover story about women who were black and Jewish, by and large, the picture seemed a bit depressing, and I always wondered why more was not said about those people of color who have a deep loyalty to Judaism and do not feel like second class Jewish citizens. As more Jews adopt Asian and Ethiopian kids, how about a follow-up on the racial issue?

by Donna L. Halper
Boston, MA

Discount Tickets

Apropos of “Jewish Latency,” Fall 1997: Please note that the New York UJA-Federation Resource Line surveys all synagogues in the 8 county metropolitan area before the High Holidays each year. We ask if the synagogues will offer reduced rate tickets to young singles, the elderly, recent emigres. Many respond that they happily negotiate with people and welcome them to their services. Call (212) 753-2288 and (914) 271-2121.

by Jane Abraham, Director
UJA-Federation Resource Line,
New York, NY

Intriguing Choices

Thanks for the wonderfully informative article (“Two Lesbian Women . . . and Their Pretty Straight Wedding,” Winter 1997). As a Reform rabbi who officiates at Jewish same-sex weddings (and as one who tries to be respectful of Jewish tradition) I was intrigued by the choices Aimee and Michelle made and I learned a great deal from the article.

by Rabbi Elias Lieberman
East Falmouth, MA

I just finished reading your article on Aimee and Michelle’s wedding and I can’t seem to get the tears out of my eyes. My partner and I have discussed having a Jewishly oriented commitment ceremony, but I had not heard (until now) of a lesbian wedding that could come so close to what I have been looking. I especially loved the part about Michelle’s Orthodox rabbi grandfather leading Grace after Meals and honoring the “beautiful brides.”

Last month my partner and I visited a home where the couple had their own beautiful Ketubbah displayed. When my partner saw it (she had never seen one before) she was mesmerized. My first thought was: yeah, but we could never have this. Now I am thinking otherwise.

by Robinlee Garber
Madison, WI

Let’s Eat!

My hearty compliments on The Body Shop ad in the Summer 1997 LILITH. It uses wit, humor and aesthetic savvy to celebrate large women. Yes! Let us honor women in all our sizes and shapes, and enough already with the fat-phobic, thinness obsessed philosophy that tries to force us to disappear from the face of the earth. Let’s take up all our space, and breathe, and eat, and LIVE!

by Louise Halperin
Montreal, Quebec

Dorothy Field criticizes The Body Shop on our campaigning and community trade programs (Letters, Winter 1997). She is mistaken on both counts. For us business is both profits and principles. The Ruby image in the ad to which Ms Field refers challenges the stereotypical waif-like images of women used by the mainstream cosmetics industry in its advertising. It is a good example of The Body Shop’s counterculture view of the image of women in the media. Likewise, at The Body Shop we are proud of our relationship with our paper suppliers in Nepal, General Paper Industries. In 1997, more than 8% of GPI’s turnover was spent in the community (education for girls, AIDS awareness, and so on). GPI treats and recycles its waste water out of concern for the environment rather than legislation. We believe Western businesses should treat trading partners fairly and with respect.

We have no need “to enhance [our] political correctness.” Others recognize our role as leaders in campaigning and encouraging business to be open on ethical issues. The Body Shop Canada won the United Nations Grand Award for its campaign “Stop Violence Against Women” and just this month our International’s Values Report (an independently verified social and environmental audit) won the United Nations Environmental Program award for environmental reporting.

by Gavin Grant
The Body Shop International
Liltlehampton, UK

Erasing Gender

I was struck by the comments of some of your child book reviewers (“In the Children’s Library,” Fall 1997), categorizing the books they read as “girl” or “boy” books. I’m trying as hard as I can to erase such distinctions from my own 4 1/2 year old daughter’s experience, and believe that the world will be better once unnecessary gender distinctions are abolished.

by Naomi Reiss
New York, NY

From our e-mail:

While I am planning on subscribing via snail mail, I just wanted to take a minute to tell you what a wonderful magazine you have. I have been buying it at a local bookstore and have missed out on issues because it is sold out. I am not Jewish, but every issue I have read has brought a flood of emotions. Keep up the good work.

by Mary Ewing

I loved the wives tell all article! (“Five Women Emerge From the Shadows of Their ‘Great Men'”, Winter 1997) I think your magazine is a door opener, thought provoking and develops leadership. Kol hakavod!

by Rani Kallai
Jerusalem, Israel