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Spring 2014

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."

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In This Issue

Lilith Feature

A Little Girl’s First Haircut

Coming into Feminist Toddlerhood

Lilith Feature

The Young Suffragist’s Diagnosis

Lilith Feature

The Refusal of Time: Visiting the Old Old

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Written on Matzoh

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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 »

In the Desert

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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 »

Jewish Filmmaking—Curse or Calling?

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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.

Wordless Tea

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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 »

Same Page, Seven Years Later

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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.”

Ayelet Waldman on chance, and obsession

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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.

Born Out of Wedlock

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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.

Disability Oppression

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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.

Reading “Dear Abby” in Massachusetts

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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 »

The Gingham Dresses

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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 »

“Go check on Gramma,” my father said.

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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 »

Haircutting Ritual for Your Daughter

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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 »

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