Lilith As Textbook

This fall. The High School of Jewish Studies in suburban Buffalo offered a new course with the riveting title “Lilith as Cover Girl.” Cantor Barbara Ostfeld, who created the course, said that her inspiration came from LILlTH’s Spring 2001 cover “Boobs! How Jewish Women Feel About Their Breasts.”

“I wanted a course to oppose the insidious quality of girls’ magazines, that infuse young women with the idea that they need all kinds of gimmickry, like breast-enhancing creams, in order to be successful.” Ostfeld .said. The ‘Boobs’ issue was my catalyst. When it arrived in the mail, I thought, what a great juxtaposition!” The high school’s course catalog publishes this as part of the description; “The point will be to see how popular culture’s ideal woman measures up to her funky, brainy Jewish sister.”

Among Ostfeld’s students is her own teenage daughter. In the first lesson, Ostfeld used Rachel Kranson’s article from the Spring 2001 issue, “The Queen of Sheba’s Fuzzy Legs,” to segue into a discussion about female sexuality and modesty. In contrast to the message of Kranson’s piece, Ostfeld brought in depilatory ads culled from young women’s magazines.

“I told the girls that the purpose of pubic and underarm hair is to attract, not repel.” Ostfeld used the Fall 2001 cover story about Jewish women’s eggs to discuss views of infertility in Judaism.