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Lilith Feature

Readers Respond

Treating Violence in Jewish Families
by Faye Wilbu

It was so gratifying to read Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s clear, caring and ‘ accurate article: “Misery Beyond the Mezzuzah: Relationship Abuse in the Jewish Community” [Summer 2005]. I wanted to assure your readership that no one needs to suffer alone or in silence. Many communities have therapists specializing in Jewish domestic violence. We at the Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services are available in the New York City area. Our website is www.jbfcs.org and I can be reached directly at fwilbur@jbfcs.org.

What’s Likely to Yield Jewish Kids in an Intermarriage
by Keren R. McGinity

I was honored to have my dissertation, “Still Jewish: A History of Women and Intermarriage in America,” featured in an article by Jeri Zeder (“Still Jewish! What It Means Now to Be a Jewish Woman in an Interfaith Marriage”, Summer 2005). I applaud LILITH for helping spread the word that intermarried Jewish women were not “lost.”

Given the (necessarily) brief treatment of a very complex topic, I feel compelled to clarify certain subtleties for the sake of historical accuracy. Zeder commented about [writer] Mary Antin: “Though not quite Jewish, Antin did not embrace Christianity” The evidence actually suggests a coalescence of religious identities that defies simple categorization; Antin both claimed the Jewish badge and accepted some of the precepts of other religions, including Christianity.

Zeder’s idea that intermarried women’s self-definitions of their homes as Jewish “sidesteps the question of Jewish continuity—a subject McGinity did not intend her thesis to address” is contradicted by the women who married in the late twentieth century, claimed Jewish identities and passed Judaism on to their children. While the meaning and representation of intermarriage were tire primary foci of my project, I use the assimilation versus transformation debate as a framework to expand the parameters of discussion. Rather than “sidestep” the issue, I move beyond the continuity debate to explore how gender politics in intermarried women’s lives impacted their experiences over time. I also discuss the children of intermarriage, citing scholarship suggesting that the presence of Jewish mothers married to Gentile men in intermarried households was a stronger predictor of Jewish identification than was non-Jewish mothers married to Jewish men.

Israel and Kibbutz in the 1970’s-less “Plasticness” than the USA
by Jodi Groberg Hodrov Kibbutz Machanayim

I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the Fall issue of Lilith. I particularly enjoyed Shala Erlich’s article, “Our Bodies, Our Selves.” I first met up with OBOS in 1975, as a freshman at the University of Vermont, in a course in human sexuality. It was an eyeopening year for me, and OBOS has stayed with me since then, even assisting my daughter in writing papers for her sex education class in elementary school.

Until reading Shala’s article, I didn’t think about how deeply the book affected me, but I find myself today, as a physical therapisttrying to help my patients, especially womento understand all the workings of their bodiestaking responsibility for themselves physically and respecting themselves by taking better care of themselves, physically and emotionally. I do think that OBOS had a lot to do with that important base.

As for the photos, I also loved the homey, some slightly fuzzy, photos in the original editions and especially the cover, and am sad at the change. But for me, it goes along with so many things that I see in the world today—the plasticness, the “professionalism,” everything dressed up (by the way, one of the things that drew me to Israel and kibbutz in the I970’s was the relative simplicity and non-plasticity as compared to the USA—now it’s here, too!)…so I sigh and am grateful to hear that at least the content has remained real.
Thank you, Lilith and staff, for visiting me four times a year!


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