Spring 2002

Transgender Jews speak up. Jewish women and money. Ruth Messinger on 9/11 obituaries. Confronting skimpy maternity benefits in Jewish institutions. Israel’s founding mothers, some suicidal. Deconstructing the biblical Dena.

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Lilith Feature

Transgender Jews

An introduction

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Four Hundred Guests for Passover


Try this one yourself! Rhoda Asch has figured out how to re-invite, annually, all who have ever come and eaten at her Seder.

Deconstructing Dena: Genesis 34:1-31


The biblical Dena (or Dinah), as most of us know, was portrayed in conflicting ways—harlot, rape survivor, passive sister. But what did this strange story mean in its time?



Rose-petal jam and stolen furs lure a young immigrant mother in 1940s America.

“Today I am a Man” Takes on New Meaning


L.A. native Benjamin Harvey (a pseudonym) transitioned from female to male in 1982, and celebrated his bar three years later. Here he talks about fitting together the Jewish part of the puzzle with his gender identity: I always enjoyed learning about Judaism, but I never had a bat mitzvah. My family was very assimilated—we didn’t... Read more »

Shul Matters


It’s Friday evening and I’m all set—I’ve packed my kippah, a map, and a clean white shirt. The boulevard is an ocean of cars and I am a stealth minnow on my bicycle, getting soaked, searching for the dome of the synagogue. I lock up my bike, enter the lobby and start stripping off my... Read more »

In The Image of God


Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us, describes trying to end her Jewish marriage with a get, a divorce document. She says “I couldn’t give a get. I went to four or five rabbis who said that only a man could give a get to my ex-wife, but I had... Read more »

Bet you didn’t know… what the Talmud says about Gender Ambiguity


    Whatever tendencies we might have to think that “gender studies” is a concept new to the world after feminism, the rabbis of the Talmud have been deeply fascinated by the exceptions and margins of gender for well over 1500 years. The rabbis who created Jewish law lived in a male dominated society, so it... Read more »

Gender in Genesis


And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1.27, JPS translation). So God created the human/humanity (ha-adam) in God’s image. In the image of God, God created him/it: male and female God created them (Genesis 1.27, my translation). Genesis 1:27, for all... Read more »

From Pushke to Power Suit


Feminism, Judaism and women’s new financial resources are—finally—joining forces. A spate of Jewish women’s foundations are making news in nearly 20 cities across the continent, as Jewish women change the way they’re changing the world.

Trading Anna Karenina for Golda Meir


Behind the mask of mythology, poet Geffen exposes the extraordinary, smoldering losses of Israel’s pioneer women, including his suicidal mother.

Why Don’t Jewish Organizations Support Parenthood?


Rabbi Laurie Rice, pregnant, confronts the rotten maternity benefits most Jewish institutions offer.

A Surprising Lesson from Those September 11 Obituaries


Ruth Messinger launches our new opinion section of Lilith with her thoughts on 9/11 obituaries and what they suggest about Jewish men and their children. 

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