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Letters

Whose Last Name ?

I was dismayed by your listing of donors in the Summer 1997 edition of LILITH. I find it not only mystifying but also downright wrong that couples with separate last names are alphabetized by the last name of the male. The cover of LILITH reads, “The Independent Jewish Women’s Magazine.” If a pro-women’s magazine like LILITH does not show leadership in this area, why would lesser magazines change their practices?

by Shellie Specter, Endina, MN

Sinead O’Connor

Irish performer Sinead O’Connor, who was going to sing at the Sharing Jerusalem event in June, was prevented from coming by threats on her life by ultra-Orthodox Israeli Jews. When she cancelled, Jewish extremists and the mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert, expressed delight that a singer who supports sharing Jerusalem and has “gentile ideas” was not coming to the “holy land.” Such fundamentalist Judaism, on which the current Israeli government depends, is stifling feminist peace initiatives.

by Ronit Lentin, Dublin, Ireland

Time Out for Sabbath

Nancy Kalikow Maxwell’s article on how she keeps the Sabbath [“Shabbat Without Shopping Carts,” Summer 1997] hit home for me. One evening, our rabbi came over to talk to me about how to provide support for my husband during his conversion process. He told me I had to make our home a Jewish home, that I needed to make the Sabbath special. I thought I had a Jewish home already, but my parents were Holocaust refugees who downplayed any appearance or observance of Judaism.

So, I set out to learn about the Sabbath and fashion it my way. The easiest thing was to make a nice dinner, light the candles and say the blessings. I scheduled housework around the Sabbath Queen’s arrival. (My daughter loved the idea and helped in cleaning up her toys.)

Many of my own commandments are the same as Maxwell’s. It is wonderful to do nothing on a Saturday afternoon. I feel the rabbi gave me a gift with his directive for making our home a Jewish one.

by Ellen Garbuny, Buder, PA

Molly Picon

My friendship with the Yiddish actress Molly Picon [ “Gender-Bending in Yiddish Film,” Winter 1996] began when I had an idea for a book about prominent Jewish women. I wrote to many, and Molly Picon replied with a note that invited me for lunch. Molly looked terrific and turned two cartwheels with ease. “At my age, I can still do cartwheels!” We chatted for a few hours, mostly about her early years in show business; she mentioned one of her films with Frank Sinatra; at the end of the picture, she and her husband were his guests in Las Vegas.

For 21 years we exchanged birthday cards and notes. There was no one like her. She had charm, talent, style and panache. If you are in New York, go to the Second Avenue Delicatessen; there is a Molly Picon Room. While you are relishing a corned beef sandwich, think of Molly and go out and buy a record or tape.

by Selma Cherkas, Worcester, MA

House of Women

Judith Plaskow, writing in your Summer 1997 issue. was “struck by the extraordinary lack of contact between Orthodox and non-Orthodox feminists.” This May, at the Sol Goldman YMYMHA in New York City, representatives of 15 Jewish women’s organizations spanning Orthodox, Reform, Zionist, Reconstructionist, Conservative and others gathered to talk, and to begin to think about what they might join hands to achieve.

The gathering was called “House of the Women,” from the biblical book of Esther; it referred originally to the beautifying harem where Esther was transformed from beautiful maiden to queen. We see it as the place where .she began her personal and political transformation from naive young woman to powerful, courageous leader.

Participants agreed to express a united Jewish women’s voice on selected public or communal issues and agreed that it was freeing to cross the lines that normally divide, especially as the possibility of unity in the Jewish community has nearly vanished in recent months. We are looking forward in hope.

by Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses, New York, NY

Jerusalem’s Women

Thank you for profiling first-century Queen Heleni of Adiabene as LILITH continues the important work of recovering women’s history [“In Praise of Famous Women,” Spring 1997].

In 1987 we named our elder daughter Ronya Heleni in memory of our maternal grandmothers, Ronya Malka and Helena. To explain who Heleni was, little Ronya Heleni’s birth announcement included brief quotes from Josephus and the Talmud. Our friends teased us mercilessly for being such diehard academics that even our birth announcements were annotated! But if LILITH succeeds in familiarizing us with the great women in our history, then future “Heleni’s” can confidently have teddy bears adorn their announcements.

by Lori Lefkovitz Leonard Gordon, Wyncote, PA

The Fabric of Life

Re; “You Are What You Wear” [Summer 1997]: For years, I have chosen not to wear garments made in underdeveloped countries unless the manufacturers, like L.L. Bean, have a good track record.

Jewish ethics and morality require us to be conscious and sensitive. Is there a garment so important, where the sewer does not earn enough to put bread on the table, that one has to have it? One of my solutions has been to wear art as clothes. I also buy fabric made in the U.S.A. and, taking my favorite dress, vest, skirt, etc., have a seamstress (a new immigrant) make it for me and pay her at least a living wage.

And we really do not need closets full of clothes; exchanging and recycling is very patriotic.

by Ita Aber, New York, NY