Lilith FeatureTransgender Jews
Try this one yourself! Rhoda Asch has figured out how to re-invite, annually, all who have ever come and eaten at her Seder.
COMING SOON The invention of the sewing machine in 1848 and the demand for ready made clothing were both a blessing and a curse for the Levines, Jewish immigrants from Poland in the early 1890s who ran a garment shop out of their front room. Their reconstructed home, a new permanent exhibit, reflects the New York... Read more »
What is it like to know you are “slow,” that you will forever be cut off from taking advantage of what society offers its productive—and even not so productive—adults? And what is it like to be the parent of such a person? These are the experiences that Karen Bender reveals in her exquisitely perceived domestic drama, Like... Read more »
Ranging in scope from the first female Jewish settlers to New Amsterdam in1654 to the emergence of the contemporary Jewish feminist movement. Her Worlds Praise Her: A History of Jewish Women in America from the Colonial Times to the Present (Hasia Diner and Beryl Lieff Benderly, Basic Books, $35) is an ambitious, comprehensive chronicle of Jewish-American womens history.... Read more »
The Yiddish stage was one of last century’s most amazing and diverse worldwide theatrical phenomena, encompassing every genre from operettas and literary dramas to marionette theater and political plays. While histories are beginning to appear about the American Yiddish experience, little has been written on the Yiddish theater overseas. A new work focusing on the Soviet... Read more »
In Elizabeth Berg’s Never Change (Pocket Books, $23.95), looks loom large for protagonist Myra Lipinsky. Myrais a 51 year-old visiting nurse whose own affliction, as she fatalistically sees it, is a terminal plainness which disqualifies her from the world of romantic attachment. A child of Polish Jews “who had accents,” Myra gains acceptance into the post-1950s world... Read more »
In Fox: Poems 1998-2000 (WW. Norton & Co., $21) Adrienne Rich can no longer be accused of favoring a feminist polemic over the art of poetry. As she writes in “Terza Rima,” a poem from this newest volume: “How I’ve hated speaking’ as a woman”/ for mere continuation/ when the broken is what I saw.”... Read more »
Long Time No See by Susan Isaacs (Harper Collins, $39.95) is a murder mystery, told in the first person. The “detective,” Judith (not Judy) Singer, is a middle-aged history professor at a small Long Island university. Recently widowed, this Jewish heroine still dreams of the non-Jewish policeman with whom she’d had an affair some twenty years... Read more »
In simple yet sophisticated language, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso retells the story of Cain and Abel in Finding the Fruits of Peace: Cain and Abel (Jewish Lights,$16.95). Sasso invites the reader into a colorful world so pleased with diversity and co-existence that mixed-up fruits like or apples, plumelons and banagerines can ripen on a single tree. This is the... Read more »
“Zaftig, in Yiddish, means juicy. It also means voluptuous, plump, and round in a deliciously sensuous way. Used to refer to people’s bodies, it suggests opulence and abundance, a sort of unconventional beauty built on heft and curves and softness. Zaftig is also, often, a euphemism for saying that someone is fat.” So begins Hanne Blank’s introduction... Read more »
Game Face, hy Jane Gottesman. Random House. $35 It’s miraculous to see an athlete at her peak performance. But as a swimmer, I have also loved the drama of the pre-race as the competitors mount their blocks, stretching and loosening their muscles, bodies contoured to the sport, faces of concentration fierce as warriors. I can almost... Read more »
Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered by Ruth Kluger, The Feminist Press, $24.95 Ruth Kluger, the author of Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered, is a Jewish woman born in 1931 Vienna (“a city that hated children—Jewish children, to be precise”). The very title of her book raises a challenge to the field of Holocaust studies—the credibility... Read more »
Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women by Jill Hammer, Jewish Publication Society, $24.95 I was once asked to reflect on which sacred text influenced me the most. After some thought, I realized that the most powerful influence was the absence of text. Where were women’s words, their names, their thoughts and their soul’s journeys?... Read more »
Necessary Targets: A Story of Women and War by Eve Ensler, Villard Books, $12.95The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, Villard Books, $19.95 “When we think of war, we think of the moment of violence—the blast, the explosion,” playwright Eve Ensler reflects in the introduction to Necessary Targets: A Story of Women and War. “But after the bombing, after the... Read more »
No Room of Their Own: Gender and Nation in Israeli Women’s Fiction by Yael S. Feldman, Golumbia University Press, $17.50 This study examines how nationalism, the threat of war, and male dominance have limited women’s voices not only in Israeli society, but in literature as well. Beginning in the 1980s, women entered mainstream Israeli fiction in increasing... Read more »
The First Day and Other Stories by Dvora Baron, translated and edited by Naomi Seidman with Chana Kronfeld, University of California Press, $16.95 The mysterious tragedy of Dvora Baron’s life (1887-1956)resonates in the powerful stories of this newly re-discovered writer. Baron, raised in the traditional shtetls of Lithuania, was given a Hebrew education by her... Read more »
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.
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
Behind the mask of mythology, poet Geffen exposes the extraordinary, smoldering losses of Israel’s pioneer women, including his suicidal mother.
Rabbi Laurie Rice, pregnant, confronts the rotten maternity benefits most Jewish institutions offer.
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.
The large, glossy 2002 wall calendar that arrived in the LILITH office in January, courtesy of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, contains” 12 distinctive images of the healing arts from a variety of periods, places, and peoples.” Each month features a reproduction of a painting by such artists as Norman Rockwell and Thomas Eakin, all showing doctors... Read more »
Violence against women has long been a problem in Israel: according to the women’s labor-Zionist organization Na’amat, one out of seven Israeli women has suffered from some form of partner abuse. Statistics show a significant rise. In reported violence in the past five years. But the good news is that professionals attribute this increase to the... Read more »
Jewish feminist scholarship is flourishing, now more than ever before. Here’s a sampling of the innovative work being done right now by early-career academics: • Deborah Grenn, founder of The Lilith Institute and adjunct faculty member at the Women’s Spirituality masters program at New College of California, is completing “For She Is A Tree of Life: Locating... Read more »
Graduations take place in the spring, and for students and their families who have recently lost a parent, sibling or grandparent, these ceremonies can be bitter sweet. At Yale University, the chaplains’ office has devised a commencement-weekend opportunity to recognize such losses. “Service of Remembrance,” which is part of the graduation schedule, provides a quiet... Read more »
Attorney Rochelle Shoretz, 29, mother of two, an Orthodox Jew and former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. While undergoing chemotherapy in November 2001 she founded Sharsheret—the word means chain In Hebrew—an organization specifically for young Jewish women who, like her, are fighting the disease and confronting issues like... Read more »
Soccer Maydels: Two Tales 1. This winter saw the debut of The Yeshiva Girls’ Indoor Soccer League, with teams in New York and New Jersey. “My friends and I love soccer,” says Estee Sce, 17, captain of the Ma’aya not team in New Jersey. “You need so much endurance to keep running up and down the field.... Read more »
After Lori Leibovich, a staff writer at Teen People, searched bridal magazines in vain for “one thought-provoking article, one provocative essay that poked fun at the 70 billion dollar wedding industry, “she started the webzine Indie bride,” for women who have never for a second believed in Prince Charming.” The offerings include a “Get Real” section, which... Read more »
When a pastel map of the tribalized “New York istan” appeared on The New Yorker magazine cover in December, the city’s neighborhoods were renamed in ironic recognition of September 11. The West Village was now “Artsifarsis,” and the former World Trade Center “Lowrentistan.” New Yorkers ate it up, and the cartoon’s creators, Maira Kalman and Rick Meyerowitz, illustrators and... Read more »
To NBC, for airing an episode In the drama series “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” on January 6, in which the murderer of an abortion provider turns out to be tied to a large anti-abortion network that employs terrorist tactics. According to the women’s groups NOW and The Feminist Majority, NBC has since then been... Read more »
Deborah Drattell’s intriguing and much-publicized opera Lilith is really about Eve. It is with Eve’s struggles in the work’s premier at the New York City Opera this winter that we empathize. Lilith is a decidedly secondary character. The opera’s setting suggests an Eastern European shtetl. A congregation of black-clad men and shawled women mourn the death of Adam. His widow, Eve, is... Read more »
Mentoring I’ve been thinking a lot about its meanings lately. For 25 years LILITH has had the pleasure of I nurturing more than 90 young women—high schoolers, college students, graduates, and some who have finished graduate school. They’ve been sending us their reminiscences recently, in response to a first-time-ever questionnaire we sent out, and we’re discovering... Read more »