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Fall 2003

What Hasidic girls are really like. Writing that first novel. Half-Jewish, or married to a non-Jew, or not Jewish enough. Readers reveal how Anne Frank touched their lives.

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In This Issue

Lilith Feature

Half, Whole, Holy

Lilith Feature

Reading The Diary

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Anne Frank Behind the Iron Curtain

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In 1960, U.S.S.R. authorities decided to “import Anne Frank’s diary, perhaps the only Holocaust document that managed to break through the “Iron Curtain.” Ironically, according to official Soviet history, the Holocaust as we know it—the mass murder of Jews only because they were Jews— did not happen at all. The U.S.S.R. authorities believed that Soviet Jews... Read more »

Laura Simms

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Laura Simms, a storyteller, is the director of The Gaindeh Project using story with youth in crisis throughout the world. Her new book, love stories for adults, is The Robe of Love (Codhill Press). I recall the solitary intensity of squatting in my junior high schoolyard at lunch reading it from cover to cover I was... Read more »

Elka Brandt

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Elka Brandt is a senior at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. When I write, I can shake off all my cares.—April 5, 1944. Anne Frank’s journal was a hiding place within a hiding place; she wrote to create a little personal space for herself. At the same time, she was preparing to be heard, as she... Read more »

Daisy Maryles

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Daisy Maryles is Executive Editor of Publishers Weekly. I am a child of Holocaust survivors. I was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Ulm, Germany in 1947, the same year the book was published. I read it at 14, about the same age Anne Frank was when she was writing the diary. Not then, or... Read more »

Ilana Kurshan

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Ilana Kurshan works in the editorial department at Alfred A. Knopf in New York. As I recorded in my own diary years ago. I met Anne Frank along with another Anne, Anne of Green Gables. Anne Frank inspired me with her will to live and her faith in humanity; Anne of Green Gables, with her imagination and... Read more »

Alice Shalvi

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Alice Shalvi, who has lived in Jerusalem since 1949, headed the Pelech Experimental High School for Religious Girls, was founding Chairwoman of the Israel Women’s Network and chairs the Executive of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. In 1953, a student of mine at the Hebrew University who had been a “hidden child” in Belgium during World... Read more »

Nava Semel

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Nava Semel’s children’s book Becoming Gershona received the 1990 National Jewish Book Award. My first teacher in writing was Anna Frank, She is the one who taught me that it was possible to turn myself into the character of a story and tell it through “me” instead of “he” or “she.” Anna told me: look around you, the closest... Read more »

Rita J. Kaplan

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Social worker Rita J. Kaplan is the CEO of the Rita J. & Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation. Anne Frank and I were within a year in age. I cannot remember when I read the book, but I do remember my intense response—shivering—as I realized that I was safe in New York. My Polish maternal grandmother had... Read more »

Jane Gottesman

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Jane Gottesman is co-curator with Geoffrey Biddle, of the photographic exhibition and book Game Face: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like? As a kid, I studied the family portraits displayed on a wall in my maternal grandparents’ house in Connecticut. My mother was the stiffly posed child with a shy smile. My father was that eager young... Read more »

Carolyn Mackler

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Carolyn Mackler wrote the teen novels The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things and Love and Other Four-Letter Words. One thread of the journal that has taken up permanent residence in my mind is Anne’s growing relationship with Peter and all of the utterly “normal” chatter surrounding her crush. Even in dire circumstances, a 15-year-old girl can still fill pages... Read more »

Aidan Chambers

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Anne Frank’s Diary appears “almost like a character” in Aidan Chambers novel Postcards from No Man’s Land (HarperCollins. 2002). He lives in England. I was a boy in my mid teens when I came across The Diary of Anne Frank. I knew nothing about Anne, but already had a taste for diaries and an unrequited hankering for a girlfriend. As soon as... Read more »

Beverley Naidoo

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Beverley Naidoo was born in Johannesburg, where she was jailed as an anti-apartheid activist. She began her writing career in exile in England and is the author of The Other Side of Truth and Out of Bounds: Stories of Conflict and Hope (Harper Collins). The big book of my South African childhood has to be The Diary of Anne... Read more »

Joan Abelove

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Joan Abelove is the author of Go and Come Back (1998) and Saying It Out Loud (1999). What was wrong with me? How could I not like it— it was such an important book, everyone loved it, everyone loved her. I was about her age, I was Jewish, I had loved John Hersey’s The Wall. I was ashamed of myself, and... Read more »

Yona Zeldis McDonough

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Yona Zeldis McDonough’s first novel is The Four Temperaments (Ballantine). Her children’s biography, Anne Frank (Henry Holt, 1997), was illustrated by her mother, artist Malcah Zeldis. When I first read The Diary of Anne Frank in 1968, age 11, I was most interested in Anne’s burgeoning womanhood, her struggles with her mother, her growing attachment to Peter. In short, I was drawn... Read more »

Letty Cottin Pogrebin

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Letty Cottin Pogrebin is the author of the novel. Three Daughters and the memoir Deborah, Golda, and Me; Being Female and Jewish in America. I read the diary when it was first published in the United ( States in 1952. I was 13 and dreamed of becoming a journalist or writer. Anne was 14 and dreamed of becoming a journalist or... Read more »

Lara Vapnyar

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Lara Vapnyar came to the U.S. from Russia in 1994. Her short star)’ collection is There Are Jews in My House (Pantheon, December 2003). She says, “Like most Russian Jewish people I grew up having very little idea of Jewish history, religion, or habits, but with a very strong sense that being Jewish is something shameful... Read more »

Andrea King

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Andrea King is a Hollywood screenwriter. I still have the 35-cent Pocketbook paperback. I’m sure it was my mother’s. On the cover is a photo of an exquisitely beautiful, doe-eyed Millie Perkins. Turned up nose. Beautiful lips. I’m not sure when I realized that she wasn’t Anne Frank, that she was the WASPy, idealized Hollywood version from... Read more »

Rachel Kadish

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Rachel Kadish is the author of the novel From a Sealed Room (Putnam, 1998). Last spring I taught a course, “Writing About Place,” at Boston College. The students read the sections of Anne’s diary where she describes the physical setup of her home. I had them read an essay by Caryl Phillips, a British West Indian writer, about how... Read more »

Leslie Hollis Margulies

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Leslie Hollis Margulies is Lilith’s advertising manager and a cabaret singer. Her first CD will be released in November. I read the Diary of A Young Girl: Anne Frank when I was ‘ turning 12. It was not a happy year for me. We had just moved out of the suburban house I loved to a small apartment. I... Read more »

Susan Goldman Rubin

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Susan Goldman Rubin is the author of more than 35 books for children and adults. Her most recent title is Searching for Anne Frank: Letters From Amsterdam to Iowa (Abrams, 2003). My older brother and his wife took me to see the play “The Diary of Anne Frank” on Broadway when it opened in 1955. I was about Anne’s age,... Read more »

Dara Horn

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Dara Horn is 26 and lives in New York City. Her novel In the Image (W.W. Norton) was published last fall. [See page 29] I read Anne Frank’s diary when I was 12, ravenously, because I was a journal-keeper myself. But in the end I didn’t love the book the way every other 12-year-old did. I felt guilty about... Read more »

Dr. Ruth Westheimer

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Dr. Ruth Westheimer is the psychosexual therapist who pioneered the field of media therapy. Anne Frank’s diaries have had a tremendous impact on how I’ve tried to live my life. This year I turned 75, the same age Anne would have been. Like me, Anne was born in Frankfurt am Main. Had the Nazis not come to power,... Read more »

The Dancer

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Her husband has lost his ability to reason, but not his car keys.  What happens next?

Reading The Diary

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Where were you when you first read Anne Frank’s diary? Naomi Danis asks 23 readers—Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Dara Horn, Susan Goldman Rubin, Leslie Hollis Margulies, Rachel Kadish, Andrea King, Lara Vapnyar, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Yona Zeldis McDonough, Joan Abelove, Beverley Naidoo, Aidan Chambers, Carolyn Mackler, Jane Gottesman, Lynne Reid Banks, Rita J. Kaplan, Nava Semel, Alice Shalvi, Ilana Kurshan, Daisy Maryles, Elka Brandt, Laura Simms—-to tell us how Anne touched their lives.

Writing Minds

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What does it take to write a novel? Three first time novelists—Amy Koppleman, Dara Horn and Nina Solomon—dissect the craft.

Rituals

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When no one is home, I open the box and take one out, one of the five white linen sheets my father brings down from the attic to hang on the walls of the sukkah. It is still white, and the fabric still strong. At the bottom are geometric patterns and the initials RK embroidered... Read more »

We Have Trespassed: Song of the Slim Girls, Starved

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We have trespassed; we have dealt treacherouslywith our desire, coercing a rebirth from bone; we have acted perversely; we have done wrongin our bodies, wishing them hollow as folly; we have robbed; we have spoken slanderagainst the grown, women full of the mind; we have been presumptuous; we have done violenceto ourselves, to our own... Read more »

The Song at the Sea

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I think I throw up into the darkness, and I push because I can’t help it. My tichel, the sweaty black headscarf, slips over my eyes and I leave it so I won’t have to see. I want to cross my legs, sew my cervix shut and wait for sepsis to set in. Hardly anyone dies... Read more »

Tallit for a Late Bat Mitzvah

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A hundred generations after Tamar, in the year of her own jubilee, a woman still hungers for Torah. She will be cold on the bimah alone. Gone are the arms of family. Only a longing for the threads of their blessing remains. She has never worn a tallit, never even thought of it. But she is older... Read more »

Wearing the Pants in Shul

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Married to a non-Jew, she’s the expert on ritual, law, and Hebrew pronunciation.

Half-Jew

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She says that she isn’t missing a thing, and that her ability to live in two worlds is shared by more and more of her peers.

Jewish…with a Problem

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What’s a twentysomething newly religious woman to do when she find out that her own mother’s conversion wasn’t kosher enough?

Miniskirts and the Messiah

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What Hasidic girls are really like: to find out, the author lived for a year with Brooklyn’s Lubavitch Jews. Meet student "Malkie Belfer": who offers strength, spunk—and more backtalk than you’d expect.

Jewish Women and Reproductive Rights in the 21st Century

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Rabbi Balfour Brickner, outraged by American government policies that trammel women’s reproductive rights, tells us why these fly in the face of Jewish law and good sense.

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