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Fall 2016

Four Decades and Counting

Readers choose 40 Jewish feminist objects. Jewish teens giving gun control sermons. Body policing. Lilith landmark articles—coming out in the Orthodox world, the JAP stereotype, female holiness, and more.
 

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Blame

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Life lessons from the mythological Lilith. Betty Friedan on her feminine mystique & being Jewish. Those thorny Jewish women's organizations.

Fall 2016: Teens and Guns

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A few years ago, at a workshop at my suburban East Coast temple, parents were asked to list some of the ways in which they were keeping their older children safe. Many spoke about the need to keep drugs and alcohol out of reach. But one mother had a very different item on her list:... Read more »

40 Feminist Objects

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To celebrate Lilith’s 40th anniversary, we asked readers to suggest Jewish feminist items that carry special meaning. Check out the results. And tell us online: What Jewish feminist object would you nominate? 

Fall 2016: First Week of College

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Ardent Pro-Israel Jew? Radical Anti-Zionist Jew? Politically and Culturally Apathetic Jew? Welcome to the identity fair. 

Fall 2016: Miriam

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Miriam When my aunt remembers Odessa she remembers her mother’s Odessa fortress city with steps down to the Black Seanear the woodswhere the Jews would run from the soldiersduring pogromsAnd now I rememberher rememberingher mother’s memoryof OdessaBlack Seafortress citysteps downrun    

Fall 2016: I Hate the Label “Jew by Choice”

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One convert’s reflections on “choosing” to be part of the “chosen” people. 

from “Analyze THIS”

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Not long ago at a packed synagogue service, the rabbi happened to ask the congregation, “How many of you are psychotherapists?” A stunning number of hands shot up and the congregation burst into laughter. “How many of you are in therapy?” he then joked, since the spirit had suddenly become intimate. Even more hands, followed... Read more »

from “Feminist Funerals”

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One of Jewish feminism’s great strengths has been doing the serious scholarly digging needed to bring new life into old rituals and develop new ones. Back in 1971, Arlene Agus brought to light the ancient women’s holiday of Rosh Chodesh, the monthly new moon celebration. Now in the final months of saying kaddish for her mother,... Read more »

from “The Once and Future Womantasch”

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What is a hamantasch? A sacred vulva filled with black seeds. A food, source of nourishment, which we make with our hands reflecting our (women’s) felt sense of self-containment, of creativity and generativity. Ancient images of goddesses reveal that certain parts of the body—breasts, vulva, belly, buttocks—were believed to be holy, combining biological functions with processes of spiritual... Read more »

from “Torah as the Matrix for Feminism”

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What is feminism? Betty Friedan encapsulates it in a word—the “personhood,” she puts it, of women. On that everyone can agree, and it may be that we ought to stop at the definition that promotes agreement. But definitions that may promote disagreement are not without their importance. The revelation implicit in the study of Talmudic method... Read more »

from “How Do Women Define the Sacred?”

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Several issues ago, Lilith put out a call asking women who wore tallesim [plural of tallis; tallit in modern Hebrew]—traditionally men’s prayer shawls—to tell us about them, and the response was overwhelming. Though women have become increasingly enfranchised over the past several decades in many areas of Jewish life, our gains in the world of liturgy and... Read more »

from “Maybe I Could Be Like Barbra—GAWJUS!”

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When Barbra Streisand sang, with a meaningful nod, “We grew up together” in the opening number of her HBO recorded concert, my partner turned to me and said, “Everyone in the audience thinks she’s singing directly to them.” “Well, they’re wrong,” I said. “She’s singing directly to me.” I felt this with as much certainty in... Read more »

from “Jewish Girls and African-American Nannies”

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“Thank you for triggering my memories of Mercedes,” wrote Joanne Drapkin of Bandon, Oregon. “I haven’t thought about her for literally decades. I shared a bedroom with her for two years when I was five to seven, yet I don’t even know her last name. I know I loved her. I wish my family had valued her... Read more »

from “Deaf Jewish Women Make Themselves Heard”

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Three women highlight dynamics experienced by deaf Jews, often marginalized by religious practice and by the inaccessibility of Jewish functions. Tzila Seewald-Russell, 25, says, “I would consider myself deaf (with a lower-case d). Even though I’m main- streamed —which I’m grateful for because it’s allowed me to involved in my synagogue—I still can’t totally follow... Read more »

from “JAP-Baiting on Campus”

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The stereotype of the JAP—the Jewish American Princess —is a relatively new phenomenon, emerging after years of Jewish Mother jokes and slurs. But whereas the Jewish Mother has been lampooned as overanxious, overprotective, and overbearing, her vast capacity for love and self-sacrifice, albeit guilt producing, has given these jokes an inner core of tenderness; the... Read more »

Tracking How We Choose to Form Families

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Looking for Lilith stories on forming families? Check out this compilation. 

from “‘Never Tell Anyone’—A Comedienne Breaks Her Family Taboo”

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I grew up in a picture-postcard-perfect family. My six siblings and I lived in a nice, middle-class, largely Christian neighborhood in Ottawa, Canada. My lovely German mother wore her blue-black hair atop her head in Rita Hayworth-style rolls; my brilliant Viennese father was an eye surgeon with two practices. We went to St. Basil’s Church every... Read more »

from “They Say ‘It’s Not Sex!'”

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When “Sex in the City” features a bat mitzvah party where the precocious 13-year-old girls talk about performing oral sex on the guys “to be popular,” we’re tempted to blow it off, as it were. After all, this is television, not real life. But the episode in question spotlights a practice Lilith has been hear- ing... Read more »

from “Sacred Fuse Box Closet”

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When my father died, I decided I was going to continue saying Kaddish once a day for the traditional eleven months and one day. By chance, a “Minha map” appeared in the mail at work from an Orthodox organization, showing offices all over Manhattan where one could find a lunch-time minyan. I’m a Conservative Jew, not... Read more »

from “Jewish Women’s Philanthropy”

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Jewish women today control more wealth than ever before —as wage- earners, beneficiaries of estates, directors of companies, board members of foundations and women’s funds, and as the ones in charge of running family foundations while their brothers, fathers or husbands manage the family businesses. How do the causes Jewish women give to differ from those... Read more »

from “All Who Are Hungry”

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Judaism teaches us to sanctify the significant moments in our lives with rituals, and thus it seems appropriate to me to mark the beginning of my recovery from anorexia with some sort of rite of passage. Last spring, in preparation for Passover, I was struck by several parallels between the symbols and images of the seder... Read more »

from “Women Sing of Family Violence”

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Picture the stairwell in the poor apartment: the neighbor descends the steps and the woman in the doorway repeats, “Good night, good night,” and then haltingly speaks the words: “He hit me yesterday. I’m black and blue. I was ashamed to tell you. Good night.” I found the song “Good Night, Brayne” in a 1984 anthology... Read more »

from “Children Hidden During the Holocaust”

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The first thing that strikes me is how good-looking everyone is. I wonder, is it because it’s a European crowd (there are over 500 here from Europe), or does it actually have something to do with their survivorship?  Were they especially beautiful children who had, because of their beauty, squeezed through an infinitesimal crack in a... Read more »

from “Coming of Age as Iraqi Jew in California”

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My name is Loolwa Khazzoom. I was born into an Orthodox Jewish family, with an Iraqi father and an American mother. The first priority in my parents’ life was giving my sister and me a solid religious education and Jewish identity. My day school in San Francisco, however, was solidly Ashkenazi. My teachers were virulent about... Read more »

from “Coming Out in the Orthodox World.” And an Update!

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I never could have imagined a commitment ceremony for me and my partner, or dreamt that our parents would willingly and lovingly host a magnificent celebration for 165 relatives and friends. This would have been, sadly, only a fantasy. Six years earlier I’d thought of ending my life because I was in love with a... Read more »

CELEBRATING 40 YEARS

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With 40 years of riches to choose from, selecting classics from Lilith’s archives to t the space constraints of a single issue of the magazine proves a nearly impossible task. Not so much because we love all our “darlings,” as William Faulkner called writers’ favorites—though we do—but because Lilith’s range has been so vast. The... Read more »

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