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Readers Respond

MORE ABOUT MOMMIES

On the problems of mothers [“Mommy Wars,” Summer 2004]. I am in exactly this position—a professional woman (with a Ph.D.), unemployed because I followed my husband to where his job was (and my options were limited), mother of two young children, trying to “keep my hand in” while still being mom. Yes, I have the choice to stay at home or work. But I don’t want choices. I want options.

I want to be able to work and be a parent. I want to be able to take time off to raise my kids if I decide to and then go back to work. I want flexibility, and I want it for my husband too. The true “feminist” revolution will come when we all (women and men) have the right and ability both to be parents and have careers at the same time.

by Deborah Fripp, Carrollton TX

I eagerly await each issue of LILITH magazine and I thank you for being a voice for Jewish women. This letter is in response to the article on “Career Shock: A New Jewish Mother Entei’s the Moinmy Wars” by Sarah Blustain. I would like to invite Sarah to change places with the young mothers in my office. They don’t have the luxury of working at home, having a nanny in the next room and being able to run in to see their baby every time it cries. They have to juggle their time when their children are sick, worry about day care and pray they won’t lose time when they do have to stay home with their sick child.

by Annette Gross, Carmel IN

Sarah Blustain replies: The letter-writer is correct that I don’t represent all women with my story, nor was I trying to. My point was not to compare myself with all other women but with MEN in my similar situation, to highlight the compromises that educated, ambitious women make for children that educated, ambitious MEN don’t make.

SO…IT’S A NEAR PERFECT WORLD?

We agree with LILITH’S conclusion that the Jewish community, as employers, should be a full participant in creating a balance between the work and family life of its employees. At Hadassah, the largest women’s organization in the United States, we have introduced a parental/primary caretaker policy consistent with our Jewish values and our fiduciary responsibility to our members and donors. Hadassah’s policy will offer any employee, whether mother or father, the ability to draw on a combination of benefits to greet a new child into his or her family. These include one week of paid leave for every year of service up to six years, use of banked sick/vacation time, and/or a short-term disability plan significantly better than what is required by law. We have for some time offered our employees the opportunity to use their banked sick/vacation leave to serve as primary caretaker for an aging or ill parent. As a leading advocate on women’s issues, Hadassah is proud to have its employee policies consistent with its public policies.

by June Walker, New York NY

[The writer is national president of Hadassah]

RE: “Why Women’s Organizations Won’t Repair Our Mind-Body Splif [Summer 2004]. Susan Sapiro said she cited only one Jewish organization that had a paid maternity leave policy that guaranteed an income for longer than a week. We’d like to add one more to her list. Based on time of service, the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York provides its employees between three and six weeks of full salary, less their short-term disability payments, for the care of a newborn or adopted child.

by Betsy Miller Landis and Sherri Greenbach, New York, NY

[The writers are, respectively, president and executive director of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York]

Your editorial on the failure of the organized Jewish community to confront the changes in family and gender roles left me sort of laughing and crying. I wrote a piece on the same issues in 1976. At the time, on-the-job childcare was a mirage. Ten years later, it was a campaign issue. Now there are babies in the Pentagon. But Jewish community organizations have changed scarcely at all. Jewish women are too busy dodging the guilt trips over how few children we have to confront the question of why we have so few.

by Marian Henriquez Neudel