The Fertile Crescent —
Gender, Art & Society
A highly original experience of art and events from 24 contemporary “transnational” feminist artists of Middle East heritage challenges Western stereotypes of themselves as oppressed, the sexual objects of men, with their bodies disappearing under veils, while acknowledging the restrictions that have caused many of them to leave their homelands. Created by Judith K. Brodsky and Ferris Olin of the Institute for Women and Art at Rutgers University, this assemblage of multi-site exhibits and events brings together academic and community groups along New Jersey’s New Brunswick-Princeton “corridor” housing both many Muslim and Middle Eastern immigrants, and a large Jewish community. Israeli artists include Ayana Friedman, Efrat Kedem, Sigalit Landau, and Ofra Cnaani, some of whose work has appeared in Lilith. Through mid-January 2013. fertile-crescent.org
When the Hurricane Came
With Hurricane Katrina approaching, 10-year-old Gertie and her family flee New Orleans for Memphis in a debut novel for tweens by Nechama Liss-Levinson. Inspired by her own experiences as a disaster-relief volunteer, the author of this engaging, wise and satisfying story says it is “ultimately about charity.” A postscript to the novel suggests ways children can plan their own social action projects and Liss-Levinson, who won the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award for this story, is sponsoring a “Be the Change” essay contest for children in grades three through six. Deadline is December 31, 2012. Details at whenthehurricanecame.com
A good match is A Random Book About the Power of Anyone, by Talia Y. Leman of Iowa, herself 10 years old when Katrina struck. She was inspired to get other kids together to raise funds for relief charities, starting with collecting money on Halloween. The organization that grew from this initiative is the subject of Leman’s new book. randomkid.org
Alice Shalvi Memoir
In “Point of No Return,” a charming discursive essay, the noted Israeli feminist and scholar, who studied English literature at Cambridge University before she made aliyah in 1949, describes what had changed and what had not when the university celebrated 50 years of offering women full membership. Her words appear in the Summer 2012 issue of Persimmon Tree: The Online Magazine of the Arts for Women Over Sixty. Also in that issue are Rochelle Distelheim’s short story “Comfort Me with Apples,” about Russian immigrants to Israel in the 1990s, and Alicia Ostriker introducing 10 poems by Marilyn Hacker. Persimmontree.org
Everyday Living is the subject of the first volume in A Guide to Jewish Practice, a Reconstructionist compendium by Rabbi David Teutsch with commentary by 70 rabbis and scholars, including Deborah Dash Moore, Sandy Sasso, and Sheila Weinberg. Lawrence Kushner writes “Without the elaborate ideologies of other movements, the Reconstructionists have always excelled at just telling the truth. This is an anthology about the way things really are among all liberal Jews…” RRC.edu/Guide
The Jewish Woman and Her Body
Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies & Gender Issues, focuses an entire issue on this subject. Read Gail Labovitz on cosmetics in rabbinic literature, Ilan Fuchs on hair covering for unmarried women, Rachel Adelman on seduction, Karen Grumberg on the writings of Orly Castel-Bloom. Spring –Fall 2012. email@example.com
Susan Duhan Felix
A retrospective exhibit of 50 years of the ceramic work by this artist who specializes in ritual objects and uses the technique of pit-firing. She says: “The Hebrew words for faith, emunah and art, omanut come from the same root. My pieces represent the constant struggle to find the light amidst the darkness and chaos of our lives.” At the Jewish Heritage Museum in Danville California through January 27, 2012. rcjl.org
A Wider Bridge
Looking to develop stronger connections between the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) communities in Israel and North America, this San Francisco-based national organization provides news and provocative views on LGBT culture, rights, movements and social trends in Israel; a range of Israeli LGBT film, arts and music; Israeli and American Jewish LGBT organizations; LGBT travel to Israel, and more. awiderbridge.org
Paula Hyman, 1946–2011
This noted feminist academic and activist will be memorialized by the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary and the Reform seminary Hebrew Union College on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at JTS, 3080 Broadway, NYC NY 10027. For details: 212-678-8978 or firstname.lastname@example.org. (See the many tributes to Hyman in Lilith, Winter 2011–12 and online at Lilith.org.)
This new project takes its name from the tamarisk tree under which the biblical Abraham and Sarah welcomed wayfarers from all directions seeking respite. The organization is a place of shelter for Orthodox, frum, and other religiously traditional LGBT Jews seeking to maintain their Jewish observance and find a religious community. They also welcome formerly Orthodox, “Orthodox-curious,” or others interested in a connection to traditional Judaism as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender Jews. And they work to help traditional communities and families become more welcoming. Their work is inspired by the recent statement of principles signed by more than 200 Orthodox rabbis, calling for welcoming gays and lesbians as full members of Orthodox communities. Eshel programs include: an annual shabbaton, training speakers and lay teachers in the Orthodox community, and a telephone support group for Orthodox and traditional parents of LGBT children facilitated by Miryam Kabakov. eshelonline.org
The Sexuality Spectrum
Photographer Joan Roth’s archive of “pride parade” images cover two decades of LGBT Jewish activism.
Artists Judy Chicago and Estelle Yarinsky refer in their work to Nazi persecution of gay victims during the Holocaust. Helène Aylon, Susan Kaplow and Trix Rosen expose and refute the biblical quotes in Leviticus that have engendered intolerance. Carol Hamoy’s diaphanous dresses convey anonymity and invisibility.
Siona Benjamin, Mark Podwal, and Iris Levinson all portray female sexuality through depictions of Lilith. Joan Snyder and Penny Wolin are in here, too. Through the creativity of over 50 international contemporary artists this exhibit explores sexual orientation and the evolving social and religious attitudes toward sexuality; marginalization, violence and inclusion; AIDS; and the influence of the LGBTQ community on the Jewish and larger world. Faculty and students of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Institute for Judaism, Sexual Orientation & Gender Equality and Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling contributed essays for the catalog of this exhibit, curated by Laura Kruger. Joan Roth’s cover portrait for Lilith of transgender writer Joy Ladin is one of the exhibition’s keystones. Through June 28, 2013 at Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in Manhattan. huc.edu/museum/ny
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