Lilith FeatureOur [Meaning Women’s] Book-of-Esther Problem
A 12-Page Lilith Feature By Rabbi Susan Schnur
The Way We Are
HEALTH AND HEALING Women and Disabilities, a women’s studies conference, will be held at Southern Connecticut State University October 2-3. Send your proposals for sessions by 6/1/98 to Vara Neverow, Women ‘v Studies Program, EN 27J. 501 Crescent St.. New Haven. CT 065J5-1355; (203)392-6133; fax (203)392-6723: email@example.com; http://scsu.ctsateu.edu/womenstudies/wmst.html How to talk to a child when you... Read more »
Talking Back: Images of Jewish Women in American Popular Cultureedited by Joyce AntlerBrandeis University Press, $21.95 Yiddishe Momma. JAP. Jewish Big Mouth. Long Suffering Mother. These are just some of the images of Jewish women that have pervaded American popular culture. The essays in Talking Back, written mainly by professors in women’s studies, history, literature, and Jewish... Read more »
The Red Tentby Anita DiamantSt. Martin’s Press, $23.95 As Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent opens, Dinah, daughter of Jacob and Leah, tempts the reader to hear her story. “We have been lost to each other for so long,” she entices us. “I became a footnote, my story a brief detour between the well-known history of... Read more »
Where She Came From: A Daughter’s Search for Her Mother’s Historyby Helen EpsteinLittle, Brown, $24.95 Everything about Helen Epstein’s new book. Where She Came From, is incredible—in the literal sense of the word. How can a Jewish woman in late 20th-century America reconstruct her own matrilineal history, across two centuries and an extinct civilization, with only... Read more »
A Heart of Wisdom: Making the Jewish Journey from Midlife Through the Elder Yearsedited by Susan BerrinJewish Lights Publishing, $24.95 A Heart of Wisdom, a new anthology edited by Susan Berrin, is an upbeat book that makes one look forward to the later years. Jewish tradition, with its respect for the wisdom and experience of its elders,... Read more »
Celebrating the Lives of Jewish Women: Patterns in a Feminist Sampleredited by Rachel Josefowitz Siegel and Ellen ColeThe Harrington Park Press, $19.95 “Thou Shalt Not Lessen the Humanity of Women,” writer Cynthia Ozick demanded in 1983. As an unwritten 11th commandment, Ozick’s injunction has led women to battle the sexism that confronts them. Celebrating the Lives... Read more »
Under My Hatby Sally BerkovicJoseph’s Bookstore, London (fax 44-181-731-7575) Part memoir, part scathing social commentary, part rallying cry for Orthodox feminism, this first book by self-described “unorthodox Orthodox” author Sally Berkovic traces the struggles of modern Orthodox Jewish women and reveals the paradoxes of living a traditional Jewish yet modern life in a “post feminist”... Read more »
To Do & To Be: Portraits of Four Women Activists, 1893-1986: Gertrude Barnum, Mary Dreier, Pauline Newman, Rose Pesotta by Ann Schofield Northeastern University Press, $15.95 The 1911 Triangle Fire was never far from Pauline Newman’s mind. By the time of the tragedy she’d become a union organizer, socialist and suffragist. But Newman had spent eight years at Triangle—... Read more »
The Curse of Cainby Regina Schwartz, University of Chicago Press, $22.95 Lifecycles: Jewish Women on Biblical Themes in Contemporary Lifeedited by Debra Orenstein and Jane LitmanJewish Lights, $24.95 Like Bread on a Seder Plateby Rebecca Aipert, Columbia University Press, $24.50 The Harlot by the Side of the Roadby Jonathan Kirsch, Ballantine, $27 Is it possible to... Read more »
“Excuse me, doctor, you have a call.” My secretary, Janis, pokes her head into the room where I am trying to console a couple whose 14-year-old cocker spaniel has just died. The woman, Mrs. Arnold, is sobbing uncontrollably; her husband, a bald man with a wispy gray mustache, glares at me. “I don’t understand,” he... Read more »
Published in English for the first time, two novels of pre-war Germany reflect their author’s tormented life of anti-Semitism, troubled motherhood, and a brooding sexuality.
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... Read more »
"The figures of Vashti and Esther, clearly in origin full-moon prespring relatives of the ancient mythological life cycle goddesses, come down to us, in the Book of Esther and in rabbinic midrash, so disfigured and devalued that it is hard to know how to begin resurrecting them.
But let's start with Harvard psychologist Carol Gilligan, whose research shows us that females' self-esteem is highest before puberty, but then we turn into women, males enter our consciousness, and it all goes to hell."
Tracing the hamantasch her story
Deftly she scraped the silver scales and forcedone fish into the other; the soft feetof the calf she boiled into jelly; she stuffed riceinto the plump hen and boundits wings and legs; she poured hot fatover the leg of the lamb. Spicessizzled and baked as she stirredthe bones bubbling in the pot. They sat round... Read more »
ISAAC They put my first born in my arms. His eyesopened milky as any other lamb’s, and Iremembered my father watching my face I prayed he would believe I was asleep. I tell you it was not the knifethat was unforgivable, as he raised itabove me, it was what he said: He loved me. So... Read more »
He preached the lessons of unconditional love, and his music was adored world-wide. But what was his legacy to women?
Orthodoxy’s Open Door I am a modern Orthodox Jewish woman of American Indian and African-American descent. As an active member of New York’s Orthodox community, I am incredulous that “a Jewish mother who is raising the son she conceived with a black man to be a traditionally observant Jew” (“Are You Black or Are You... Read more »
A major new study released in February reports that women make up only 25% of the boards of American Jewish organizations and still face obstacles as board members. The study, commissioned by Ma’yan: The Jewish Women’s Project, is entitled “Power & Parity: The Roles of Women and Men on the Boards of Major American Jewish... Read more »
In a major victory for Orthodox feminism,” writes Jonathan Mark in The Jewish Week (“Women Take Giant Step in Orthodox Community,” Dec. 19, 1997), a prominent New York Orthodox synagogue “has hired a woman to serve as pastor, teacher and counselor, essentially an assistant rabbinic position usually given to a newly ordained male.” Just one... Read more »
Folksy puppets perch on makeshift bookshelves, overwhelming the kitchenette of Svetlana Smelansky’s tiny San Francisco apartment. Orange-haired, gray-bearded, kerchiefed, potbellied, cross-eyed, pop-eyed, or slump-shouldered, they represent only a fraction of the 500 kuklas—hand puppets and tiny dolls—that Svetlana designed for her performance and puppet therapy company, the Theater of Miracles. Though puppet psychotherapy is not... Read more »
Who among us made it through childhood without hearing about The Starving Children? “There are children starving in India,” our parents—often our mothers —would intone, casting a cold eye on whatever remained on our plates. It seemed a universal American ritual. But for therapist Catherine Steiner-Adair, Ed.D., the mantra in American-Jewish households had another, hidden... Read more »
“Thank you God for making me a woman who is an artist.” This statement appears in the center panel of a gold-painted tryptich. embellished with beads, minors, safety pins, and lace. It is Carol Hamoy’s reinterpretation of the traditional morning prayer intoned by Orthodox men, thanking God for not making them women. Hamoy’s sentiment is... Read more »
You don’t have to be a victim or a survivor to be part of the problem or the solution,” urged Shelley Herman, co-chair of the conference on “Family Violence: Healing Through Creative Techniques,” when she greeted about 200 volunteers, organizers, social workers, advocates, rabbinical students and others—mostly women—who gathered in New York City in November. The... Read more »
Purim is a holiday some of us may recall from childhood only because of the Queen Esther dresses we wore. (I still have the photo of myself, circa age 6, in a long organdy skirt of my mother’s, with a long and fancy sash—my mother’s—and a tiara—also from Mum, whose closets and drawers were always... Read more »