Rethinking Our Relationships

Empathy, Sexuality, Community

What has been so surprising to Lilith’s editors as we’ve looked back at the relationships Jewish women have explored in articles, poems, short stories and art, is the powerful role that ordinary objects play in triggering women’s associations with they care about. The chair she gets at the seder is die status clue for an unmarried niece. Sisters go through their late mother’s top drawer, and a pile of memories spills out along with the pearls. Who inherits the photos, the furs, the frying pan? The humble material of daily life carries emotional weight for women.

The “Bubbe’s tales” that came to Lilith in manuscripts 25 years ago have been subsumed by analytical—even respectful— understandings of the authors’ mothers; a much harder subject to tackle than grandmothers. The feminist take on family life has expanded to include fathers, too, with Jewish women writing to explore, time and again, ho«’ to get Dad to talk.

But the relational world of Jewish women is more than the people we’re connected to through blood and marriage, more than sex, sentiment or solitude. It’s women’s web of friendships with our colleagues, our students, our mentors and more.