The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology

edited by Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz and Irena Klepfisz, Boston: Beacon Press, 1989, 360pp., $12.95

In the revised, expanded edition of The Tribe of Dina, this amazingly diverse collection of Jewish women’s writing, editors Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz and Irena Klepfisz have added materials reflecting the increasingly tense situation in Israel over the intifada. Translations from the Hebrew poetry of Bracha Serri, Gavrielle Elisha and Karen Alkalay-Gut, and “Soviet Journeys” by Ruth Ruthchild are among the new work, as is the brief “Prszemysl — December 1942” by Elza Frydrych Schatzkin.

Born in Warsaw, Schatzkin committed suicide in 1962 at the age of 26. She spent the war hiding her Jewish identity in order to stay alive, and her essay is based upon her experiences in a Prszemysl orphanage ran by nuns. Using a child’s point of view, she speaks: “Mother Superior is nice to me. She knows that I am Jewish, and that my name is not really Maria. My name is Hana Stern.” As for her parents:

they are Jews. I hope they didn’t die. Probably, if they are not dead, someone will come and take me back to them. It is cold, but I will sleep now. Jesus knows that I love him. He doesn’t mind that I am Jewish.

Klepfisz’s “Secular Jewish Identity: Yiddishkayt in America” and Kaye/Kantrowitz’s “To Be a Radical Jew in the Late 20th Century” should be read by anyone who cares about the close connections between anti-Semitism, race and class, as well as what it means to be a woman, lesbian, Jew, feminist (in any order). Each is permeated with a kind of breithartzikeit, the same generous spirit that conceived this book in the first place.

From artwork and photos, to Rita Arditti’s essay on her Sephardic inheritance, to an (updated) interview with Israeli activist Galia Golan, we have a book at last that exemplifies the many facets of kol isha (woman’s voice).