Readers Respond

Wild About Laura
What’s wrong with “Dr. Laura” is not, as Sarah Blustain asserts, that she is “promoting the agenda of the Christian Right” (“The Stealth Politics of Laura Schlessinger,” Summer 2000). What’s wrong with “Dr. Laura” is that she violates the central tenet of all religions. The Golden Rule: Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you.

Her intemperate attacks on callers to her radio program, her rigid judgments, arrogant opinions, and out-of context citations from the Old Testament make her the very embodiment of “the Devil quoting Scripture.” Her claim that she dispenses advice not on psychological but on moral and ethical issues thinly camouflages the florid sadism she displays toward emotionally troubled people who desperately need genuine wisdom and empathic help and not more torture. Schlessinger’s ratings are a testimony to the failure of managed healthcare that forces needy people to resort to so-called “experts” on the airwaves.
                                                                                                                     Joan Swirsky
                                                                                                                Great Neck, NY

As a Jew and social worker I am confronted by two roads of thought about Dr. Laura. Granted she may be the most popular Jewish woman in America but she is not the voice of any branches of Judaism. She stands alone with her dogma. Secondly, she is not a professional mental health practitioner and does not follow any of the ethical standards professionals are charged with. So, what is she? Schlessinger is a woman dressed as a Jew so that she stands out from the rest, offering her own snake oil treatment for those who would not otherwise seek community mental health treatment. She is a gimmick that generates money into her own pockets without the best interest of humankind in mind.
                                                                                                          Charles Wickham
                                                                                                              Ann Arbor, MI

Eat your hearts out, you poor urban, urbane ladies of the left. She’s fun, she funny, she’s righteous and she’s right. It just tickles me to see you all go ballistic over Dr. Laura. She’s got more commonsense in her little pinky than you have in your fat tusches. Sit around and pout over her popularity; your pique is my pleasure.
                                                                                                                      Herb Baker
                                                                                                               Gloucester, MA

I wish to applaud and commend Sarah Blustain for her fact-finding, carefully analyzing the “politics” and background of Laura Schlessinger. I’ve yet to find a colleague in the field of mental health who has liked her approach and methodology.
                                                                                                     Sholom Bloom, Ph.D.
                                                                                                          West Hartford, CT

I really appreciated your insightful, well-written piece on Dr. Laura, in my opinion the worst representative of Jewish values in memory. It’s true. She’s the darling of the Christian Right, and she loves it. Ach, what a pig.
                                                                                                         Damon Schwartz
                                                                                                          Sacramento, CA

Are you sure your article should not be renamed “The Stealth Politics of Lilith Magazine?” Let’s face it, you have a spin that wants to make everything Dr. Laura does wrong. Also, you missed chastising her for her main message which is to take personal responsibility for your actions instead of blaming everyone and everything else. I guess it’s hard to spin that into evil so you just skip it.
                                                                                                                      Kelley Martell
                                                                                                           Hayward, California

Yes, this coming from a gay man (brought up Christian, now just rather unreligious). While I’ve followed the Dr. Laura business from the early days, I didn’t want to get involved in the angry voices, but I liked that you critiqued the “Doctor’s” comments without doing name-calling and badmouthing, just sticking to facts.

The “Christian” Right and Dr. Laura are two big reasons why I and the majority of the gay community do not consider ourselves religious. It’s easy to be soured on religion because of people who, at every gay event, show up with their “God Hates Fags” signs. Thank you again for your words; to count you as a supporter to the way I live my life is encouraging.
                                                                                                                           Bill Willis
                                                                                                               Santa Clara, CA

Breaking Silence
As a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience working with survivors of sexual abuse, including clergy sexual misconduct, I applaud your commitment to speaking the truth (“More Allegations of Abuse by Rabbis,” Fall 2000). The major reasons rabbis can continue to abuse are silence and non-action, especially from our religious leaders. By naming names, regardless of the charisma a religious leader may have, your words support those injured to know they are not “crazy” or alone.

The AIDS Act Up message told us SILENCE=DEATH. Silence in this area also creates a death for the abused. Their sense of safety, trust and well-being are damaged; self-worth and dignity are diminished; faith in their elders and God is shaken. As Judaism explores way of holding on to its followers, does it not make sense to hold our leaders accountable for creating places of safety, responsiveness, respect and dignity for all?
                                                                                                                     Jan Singer
                                                                                                                Fox Point, WI

Wedding Plans
In your article, “A Counterproposal” (Spring 2000), you talk about feminists who have egalitarian relationships and yet are afraid to deconstruct the “white wedding thang.” Well I want to let you know that you are not alone. Despite the fact that I am married (happily) for a little over a decade, I too see the problems with traditional marriage and weddings.

Most people take on the attitudes and actions of those closest to them. This is not always a bad thing, but can cause those in denial to lash out at those who refuse to think from the same communal plate. It’s almost as if they did not realize that they had choices about relationships and family and they are extremely annoyed that you think that you do.
                                                                                           Lois J. Greene-Hernandez
                                                                                                                    via- e-mail

About the Spring 2000 section on weddings: As a woman who kept my “own” (as you say, my father’s) name after marriage, I do want to protest those quotation marks. First, my father’s name is the name by which I have been known on every document from kindergarten drawings to SAT scores, from U.S. Form 1040 to leases to contracts to credit cards bills. Because the name has referred to me since my birth, it has come to be my own. Second, and just as important, I prefer using my own father’s name to using my husband’s father’s name.
                                                                                                            Claudia R. Chernov
                                                                                                                    New York, NY

Visions of Lilith
As a former secular (now traditional) Jew, I have never felt more spoken to about who I am than by your magazine. I recognize how many of us become Lilith in the workplace, demonized for the simple expectation of being regarded as equal to our male counterparts. I have experienced the rage, both cloaked and open, directed at us by men who resent that. I wish I could say that those circumstances have changed over the years. They have not, which is why your voice is more essential than ever. Thank you for giving me a Jewish feminist community, and for helping me to stay determined, and for giving my husband and me the vision to raise our two-year-old daughter as a future Lilith!
                                                                                                           Elizabeth Schwartz
                                                                                                                  New York, NY

I am not Jewish but I do know the history behind Lilith. Why would you name a magazine after such an awful woman? No matter if she did stand up to God and Adam in the garden of Eden, she took the lives of innocent children for her revenge! How can you perpetuate such a violent and awful woman as your figurehead.
                                                                                                                Dena Leichnitz
                                                                                                                       via e-mail

Editor’s note: Lilith is a creation of Jewish tradition. Nowhere in the Bible is she mentioned, either as a baby-killer or as a seductress of men. Those interpretations were imposed on the character of this independent woman by misogynist commentators.

I agree with the reader who said that Lilith seems “so sad” (Editor’s note, Fall 2000). I believe this is a problem of progressive movements in general and of some of feminism. It’s always a hard job to point to the glass half full. And it can get tedious. However, Judaism, particularly the Shabbat service, has many rituals and prayers related to gratitude. Left to our own chattering brains and sense of conscience we’ll go on with those lists you mention: What I didn’t do, what I couldn’t do better, what hurt, what went wrong, what I want that I don’t have. For me, Jewish prayer gives a way to say thank you, how beautiful is creation.
                                                                                                                Michele Clark
                                                                                                                Plainfield, VT

What Color Is Jewish?
Penny Rosenwasser’s article, “I Thought I Knew You” (Summer 2000) made a big impression on me. When I attended the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, I was very attracted to the Womyn of Color tent, but embarrassed that I didn’t have a right to be there. As a Jew, I have felt like a woman of color my whole life.

I visited Israel many years ago. The freedom I felt there was unmistakable. It had not previously entered my consciousness that I was not feeling comfortable about being Jewish back home. I had felt slightly “other,” and thought it was just lack of confidence. But the surprising lightness I felt in Israel helped me see that I had gotten messages that being a Jew was, well, maybe not exactly a bad thing, but not a good thing either. A few years after my visit to Israel, I moved to a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. The atmosphere held the same alright-ness about being Jewish.

I could relate to Penny’s description of shrinking when someone hollered, “How many copies of the Jewish piece do we need?” in front of her (not necessarily Jewish) co-workers. As a teenager, and later at college, I had sometimes been criticized and occasionally ostracized for being too smart, too funny, too loud, and the underlying identification I felt was: “Too Jewish.” I no longer feel invisible, or like I’m passing for white until questioned, thank God.
                                                                                                                Medford, OR

Looking for Taubi
I am asking for help to find a woman called Taubi from Muncacz. I was born in 1929 in Tokai Hungary, and arrived at Birkenau in May 1944. I was in a lager. A woman by the name of Aliska was in charge of my block. The number tattooed on my arm is A6766. Taubi’s number should be similar. I was among 20 girls chosen to go from Birkenau to Auschwitz every day. We worked in the fields and in the gardens of the S.S. officers. Taubi and I were together. She had had a younger sister who was about my age. After they were separated, she “adopted” me. She was about two years older than me and was extremely good to me. We were both moved to Auschwitz and worked in the sewing and mending section. We walked together in the “Death March” and stayed together till we were liberated in Neustadt-Gelbe in May 1945.

I would very much like to meet her again, hear about her life and thank her for her kindness. She would be about 73 years old today. Please contact or
                                                                                             Chaya Rachel Herczl
                                                                                                    (née Rosenberg)
                                                                                                              via e-mail

Lilith incorrectly characterized the American Jewish Historical Society as a recent development in our Fall 2000 issue. The AJHS, founded in 1892, is the oldest ethnic history association in the United States. The Society has just dedicated new quarters at the Center for Jewish History, in Manhattan, which is directed by Dr. Michael Feldberg.

Rosie and the Mole was published by Pispopany Press; Baby’s Bris was published by Kar-Ben. The publishers were reversed in our Fall 2000 issue.