Lilith FeatureA Little Girl’s First Haircut
Coming into Feminist Toddlerhood
New feminist ritual: a little girl’s first haircut. Visiting the old old. Targeting “disability oppression.” Ayelet Waldman on psychoanalysis, Hungarian suffragists and Zionism. Liana Finck graphically envisions the family sagas behind the Yiddish advice column "A Bintel Brief."Table of contents Get the issue
a slave breathing limestone dust, carries a heavy stone for a backpack. Waiting to set it down for generations, waiting to rest it by the foot of a quilted bed. During the last year of suffering fists let go and blossom. We have no time to think, only time to get through, searching for straw... Read more »
By the time Ilana arrived in the Berns’ lobby for their Passover seder, she had at least three blisters and counting. The bouquet of daffodils she’d picked up looked as thirsty as she felt; she failed to plump the droopy leaves with her fingers. Another night of remembering the Jews’ escape from slavery, another Passover... Read more »
Hungarian filmmaker Diana Groó sees herself as part of a “traumatized third generation” of Jews who refused to speak about their past. She’s breaking that mold with her bold new films.
dh: When I was a child I had a fantasy of recording everything, of writing everything down so that nothing could ever be lost. I still keep journals and notebooks. But in recent years, social media has made my childhood dream come true — and turned it into a nightmare. Watching everyone archiving their lunch online for... Read more »
She smells like sour milk and she looks like loneliness. I am tasked with meeting her and coming up with a written plan. She is all of 80 pounds sitting on a faded-pink wingback chair and wearing only a tattered top. No underwear, no pants, just a camisole. I hold her 90-year-old wrinkled hand and look... Read more »
According to midwife-turned-memoirist Ellen Cohen, when people hear the word midwife they typically assume that it refers to someone who assists women giving birth at home. But while this is certainly true for some in the profession, Cohen’s engaging account of the three decades she spent delivering babies, providing general gynecological care, and educating patients about... Read more »
Though a relatively small community, Anglo-Jewry has lately produced a spate of highly successful fiction. These include two recent offerings that address female Jewish protagonists and their struggles with community. Eve Harris’s The Marrying of Chani Kaufman, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, is set primarily in a contemporary ultra-Orthodox community in Northwest London. Told... Read more »
Ever since reading her sweet and mischievous picture book Tell Me A Mitzi to my kids, decades ago, I have loved the writing of Lore Segal. In one of these stories, little Mitzi gets up very early one morning, changes her baby brother, helps him out of his crib, out of their apartment and into... Read more »
In The Scent of Pine, a new novel by the celebrated writer Lara Vapnyar, a struggling college lecturer away from her husband and children at an academic conference falls into an uncharacteristic affair with a charismatic and successful professor. Already long alienated from her floundering marriage, Lena finds surprising intimacy in the affair and begins... Read more »
Jewish tradition and communities have apparent dichotomies regarding conflict: Traditionally, Jews tend toward disagreement and disputation, but have an equal passion for peace. And while Jews are idealistic about their role in the redemption of the world — by exemplifying civility and the harmonious rule of law — they can also be deeply at odds with each other in... Read more »
Juggling three children under age three and her publishing job, she breaks her arm. Kurshan reflects: “In order to heal, bones have to set, and so I find myself wondering what has set in my life in the time between my two encounters with the Talmud tractate Yoma.”
Waldman talks about the drama folded into her new novel: corset-shedding early European feminists, tender Freud-era psychoanalysis, looted art, the complex schemes of post-Holocaust Zionism, and the family life of Syrian Jews.
Award-winning playwright Catherine Filloux credits her grandmother and her high school with kick-starting her interest in human rights and feminism. And the duality has led her to write more than 20 internationally produced plays and libretti. Filloux recalls that when she was very young her paternal grandmother, living in France, would read aloud to her... Read more »
It was deeply moving to hear President Barack Obama tell victims of campus sexual assaults, “I’ve got your back.” Survivors of sexual violence often encounter disbelief — especially from those authorities meant to protect them, like law enforcement officials and college administrators, according to reports filed by college students. Euphemistic language like “non-consensual sex” replaces “assault,” and... Read more »
It feels like everyone has a Loehmann’s story — or at least they did. Like a hunter who proudly displays a deer head on the living room wall, many women with a Loehmann’s purchase have a story behind the find. By March, 39 Loehmann’s retail clothing locations closed. Loehmann’s, like the grand resorts and bungalow colonies of... Read more »
Shulamit Aloni, the person who virtually single-handedly introduced human rights, civil liberties and respect for diversity into Israeli public life, passed away on January 24, at the age of 85. A patriot, visionary and leader, for close to 50 years she was a formidable presence on the country’s political scene. No other woman has been... Read more »
At the turn of the [last] century, Jewish immigrants wrote for advice to the Yiddish Forward. In A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York, Finck graphically envisions the mini-dramas these letters limn.
Author Susan Nussbaum, paraplegic and a fierce activist for girls in chairs, tells Susan Weidman Schneider why “access” is just another term for disability oppression.
“Oma & Bella” is the indie film Alexa Karolinski (in bottom photo, below) made about her grandmother and her grandmother’s friend —two Holocaust survivors in their 80s —who live together in Berlin. They cook, talk about food, entertain friends and family, play cards and remember their parents, their losses and their coming to life again after... Read more »
In this new folk opera, with its bawdy and edgy alternative story of Creation, you’ll meet Adam’s first wife. Lilith refuses to lie beneath Adam and flees to the Red Sea, creating, then killing, 100 demon babies a day, until the three angels sent by God negotiate a deal with her. “Lilith the Night Demon... Read more »
Rabbi-editors Sue Levi Elwell and Nancy Fuchs Kreimer invited women rabbis, scholars and activists to share the Jewish texts they have found themselves applying in their own lives. The contributors to Chapters of the Heart: Jewish Women Sharing the Torah of Our Lives (Cascade Books, $26) include Julie Greenberg, Judith Plaskow, Blu Greenberg and Wendy... Read more »
Wait for it. There’s a lot in this issue about bringing sex into our conversations. People with disabilities, for example, and why they get portrayed as non-sexual beings — with notable exceptions in Susan Nussbaum’s new novel. The danger of silence around teen sex, for another example (and kudos to the Orthodox rabbi who recently told parents... Read more »
Your resource guide.
Five years ago, when a new Jewish geriatric campus opened in Dedham, Massachusetts, I grabbed a friend and we started a “Dear Abby” group. I don’t remember how we got the idea. Since the beginning, we’ve met with the same 10 frail women, most in their 90s, every other Wednesday, 10:30 to noon. I call... Read more »
In my grandparents’ house, a 1950s rambler in Toronto’s Downsview neighborhood, nearly every surface was decorated with photos: children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren; bar and bat mitzvahs, graduations, weddings. One black-and-white photo, though, stood starkly apart: 10 young women, in two rows like a class picture, all wearing the same gingham dresses. I was always captivated by... Read more »
In 1983, my father sent me to Miami to check on my grandmother, Jean Weinstein, who had just lost her youngest son, my uncle Jerry, and before that her husband of 57 years, my Grampa Sam. I was 32, a widow with a 12-year-old son, living in Buffalo Grove, a suburb of Chicago. “It’ll be... Read more »
Traditional (male) upsherins are generally held near boys’ third birthdays, but historically they were also held on two other days: on Lag b’Omer, 33 days after Passover, when haircuts and festivities are traditionally permitted, and just before Shavuot, when Jews celebrate receiving the Torah — because the upsherin inducts the newly shorn child into its study. Besides... Read more »
I sometimes find talking about sex uncomfortable. There’s so much at stake — power, identity, transcendence, and raw humanity. I wasn’t raised gabbing like Barbara Streisand’s Roz Focker, the sex therapist with an uncontainable comfort with sex. So how did I wind up talking about sex professionally? When I came to feel like the only thing more uncomfortable... Read more »