Lilith FeatureDeaf Jewish Women
Make Themselves Heard
Meditating on the past, future and eternal present, women open the door.
Meditating on the past, future and eternal present, women open the door.
Ten years ago, Elana Maryles Sztokman made history in the Orthodox Jewish world by leading the first service of congregation Shira Hadasha (New Song) in Jerusalem, the world’s first “partnership” minyan (prayer community). Since then, this “Ortho-egalitarian” model has spread to almost two dozen communities worldwide. In this type of prayer service, women participate within... Read more »
Why were there no female Jewish mystics in the Middle Ages? The striking absence of women visionaries in the historical record — rendered even more conspicuous by the prominence of female mystics in both medieval Christianity and medieval Islam — inspired Forsaken: The Menstruant in Medieval Jewish Mysticism (Brandeis University Press, $35.00), by Sharon Faye Koren, a professor of... Read more »
Israeli Cinema: Identities in Motion, edited by Miri Talmon and Yaron Peleg (University of Texas Press Austin, $55.00), is an intellectually rigorous and thought-provoking collection of 24 essays on this burgeoning industry and locus for cultural investigation in contemporary Israel. The quality and quantity of Israeli cinema has exploded in the last 11 years, since... Read more »
The question is not why we keep writing about the Holocaust, but how to keep writing about the Holocaust so that others will pay attention. In Displaced Persons (William Morrow, $25.99), a profoundly moving novel about a group of tightly intertwined survivors in New York and Israel, Ghita Schwarz approaches the unfathomable and unspeakable horror obliquely,... Read more »
Against the chaotic backdrop of the late Victorian era, two chutzpahdik Jewish women on opposite sides of the Atlantic were taking on the world. Both did as they liked, ignoring the myriad restraints that Victorian society imposed on members of their sex. These two women, each the subject of a recent biography, could not have... Read more »
Straight: the Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality (Beacon, $27.95) by Hanne Blank is breezy, passionate, informative and, yes, quite short. This may seem a bit mysterious: sexual activity between our male and female ancestors long predates men and women; heterosexual romance is celebrated in some of our oldest texts — see the Song of Songs; and the... Read more »
I remember very vividly the day I learned about sex. I was eight years old, an early reader, and I found my mother’s copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves on the shelf. Horrified and fascinated by what I learned, I ran to tell my classmates on the playground. “Grownups do whaaat?” was the response. As a... Read more »
I spy on Goering as he lifts Bruegel’s “Hay Harvest” to an easel; under a blue horizon, peasants in miniature walk over wheatturning to gold. On a wooden rack, Leger’s “Woman in Red and Green;” the woman’s head, a helmet, her body armor striped in red. My camera records the theft: Cezanne, Gauguin, Lautrec,Matisse, Renoir. Names of the owners — Kann,... Read more »
In the Bedouin tents, villages and towns of Israel’s northern Negev, the phrase “my sister” sets the gold standard of relationships. On a sizzling day last June, in an open-air tent in the Bedouin town of Rahat, a most unlikely pair of “sisters”— Amal Elsana Alh’jooj and Vivian Silver — were awarded the Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize... Read more »
It has been over 50 years since American women have had birth control pills to help manage fertility and family planning, yet it seems that the battle for women’s body autonomy is still not over. The latest trend is to make not only abortion illegal but even contraception. There are people out there who would... Read more »
The recent contretemps in Beit Shemesh riveted the Israeli public and brought worldwide attention to the misogynistic treatment accorded women in the public square by certain sectors of ultra-Orthodox Israeli society. As is by now well-known, some ultra-Orthodox Jews there hurled insults and engaged in bullying an eight-year-old Orthodox girl named Naama Margolese for dressing... Read more »
If you’ve heard klezmer music, been drawn to Yiddish, or thought about women’s engagement with social causes in Eastern Europe, you’ve likely been affected by the work of Adrienne Cooper, the influential singer and Yiddishist who died in December. Cooper said of interest in Yiddish music, language and culture among younger generations: “This culture belongs... Read more »
As I write this I’m listening to a CD sent to me last year by the late, great singer Adrienne Cooper. After that I’m going to turn on pianist Simone Dinnerstein playing Bach. While I listen, I am writing about deafness. The assigning and editing of the pieces here on deaf Jewish women have educated... Read more »
Breaking Ground To coincide with the 90th anniversary of the first bat mitzvah ceremony in America, a small exhibit will travel from the JCC of Manhattan to synagogues and other JCCs. It will conclude with a large-scale exhibit in Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History which collaborated with Moving Traditions, an organization devoted to... Read more »
In her immigrant family, a 30-something daughter learned to love saving, salvage and celebration.
I grew up in San Diego around a lot of evangelical Christians and when I was 10 or so I was going to church a lot with my best friend. I was excited about an essay I had chosen to write for school called, “Why Abortion Is Wrong,” and I was telling my mother all... Read more »
At 19, I started working in the Jewish community in Columbus, Ohio, and it changed my life. I just found that Jewish women were everywhere, they were the majority of the people on committees, they loved to learn, they were doing everything. Okay, maybe not in leadership roles. I come from a Conservative Jewish home... Read more »
My parents kept kosher when they first married, but then they stopped. So I grew up with two sets of dishes [meat and dairy] that were all mixed together, a grandmother who, when she visited, ate cottage cheese from a paper plate, and a certain amount of skepticism about this aspect of Jewish ritual. I... Read more »
Out there on stage, it’s impossible to separate out being a woman and being a Jew. One of my shows starts, “I meet a guy in a bar. ‘You don’t look Jewish.’ He says it in this tone that sounds like he’s complimenting me, and I say…nothing. Should I fiddle on a fuckin’ roof for... Read more »
I’m the V.P. of the Hillel board at the university where my husband and I teach, but besides that, there isn’t much Jewish for us in this Missouri college town. It isn’t New Jersey. And it sure isn’t my two-plus progressive Zionist years in Israel, including one year in an Arab village. We used to... Read more »
I started U.S.Y. (the Conservative movement’s Jewish youth group) in ninth grade, and I loved it. We danced, sang, debated, did social action projects and built a community together. At the same time, I started teaching workshops for gender violence prevention to eighth graders and learned to analyze the world through the lens of gender.... Read more »
My story begins in Washington Heights, New York, in the 1940s, where being Jewish, female and political was the air I breathed; it was what my girlfriends and I aspired to. I knew that our grandmothers (and for some of us, our mothers) had been oppressed, but I also knew that they were powerful Jewish... Read more »
Amy Stone tells the back story of the new museum exhibition featuring Lazarus as a Sephardic woman of letters.
Judith Plaskow, Martha Ackelsberg, Deborah Dash Moore and Rabbi David Ellenson, among others, reflect on the ways this academic and activist introduced gender into scholarship and altered how girls and women practice Judaism today.
The first thing you see when you get to your best friend’s wedding is a bridesmaid in a long lilac gown distributing bottles of water, like you’re about to run a marathon. You take a bottle, even though you’re not thirsty. The label has been custom-designed for the occasion, which is something you’ve never seen... Read more »
A passionate reminder to think at least twice about pornography, arousal and “sex work.”
At work I think it is fairly clear that I am Jewish. A curly-haired 20-something social scientist from the Semitic suburbs of New York working on a conspicuously Jewish dissertation topic, I know I am the Jew in the room — and so do those around me. I pepper my syllabi with showings of “Yentl” and readings... Read more »
I grew up attending an all-girls yeshiva — Shulamith, in Brooklyn — and I didn’t have any experience in speaking to boys, except for my four brothers and my best friend’s brothers. A boy I grew up with told me boys in his camp bunk thought I was very weird. I was very hurt, and I thought that it... Read more »
When Bernice Farr shares her family’s story, her kvelling could rival the jubilation at any book club, mah jongg game or senior center full of bubbies and savtas. Farr lights up with pride as she conveys her family’s rich identity. A third-generation Deaf Jewish woman, she expresses in American Sign Language (A.S.L.), through a video... Read more »
Every expectant mother totes around her own grab-bag of fears about what might go wrong with her newborn. Prospective parents of Ashkenazi descent have the added “Ashkenazi Jewish Genetic Panel” of prenatal screening tests to contend with, and its specter of potential genetic anomalies. Though I had other worries as I entered the labor and... Read more »