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Spring 2015

Walking Zionism

A cut-and-color becomes subversive at a Bedouin hair salon. Tracing the history of the “Israeli sandal.” Why Persian Jews are having an identity crisis in L.A. Is the “slut” the JAP in new clothing? An ode to plastic bags.

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Lilith Feature

Victorious Jewish Moments

Five signal moments wrested from struggle...

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About Those Canaanite Shoes That Have Been In Your Closet For 2,000 Years

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In the 2nd century C.E., a widow named Bavta bat Simon, fleeing Roman persecution, hid in a cave in the Judean Desert. She brought a lot of stuff with her to this cave — letters, real estate documents, cosmetics — and when the trove was discovered, after almost 2000 years, by the renowned Israeli archeologist Yigael Yadin in 1960,... Read more »

in owning an abusive biblical text

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Every year in synagogue, we hear the story of Hannah, a childless woman who was taunted by her husband’s other wife, Peninah, for being infertile. Like most of the stories in Hebrew Scriptures, the narrative is extravagantly spare, and the spareness allows the readers to connect the dots, to align circumstances in one’s own life to... Read more »

down the crooked path to a daughter’s bat mitzvah

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My daughter’s body is enveloped by the tallis — woven silk threads of pale pink and white and green that we had commissioned for her to wear on this day. Underneath, she wears a cropped cardigan over a wisp of a dress — peach-dotted fabric that drops to her knees over a crinoline skirt. “It’s perfect, Mom!” she said... Read more »

in a congregation’s response to attempted murder

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More than a decade ago, I was harassed and stalked for three months by my estranged husband. We had been in and out of court, with the judge issuing injunctions for protection. During those months — as if by some divine miracle — my eldest daughter celebrated her bat mitzvah. Shortly after the simcha, my husband (and the father... Read more »

in a corner of the Hebrew school classroom

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“Pick a corner,” the substitute said. Not a single student moved. “Which label best describes you?” The pitch of her voice and the hem of her dress were considerably higher than those of our regular Hebrew school teacher. The substitute had hung a hand-lettered sign in each corner of this rarely used classroom, where the... Read more »

An Ode to Plastic Bags

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Here I am, across the world, in Siem Reap, Cambodia, sitting on the floor, stapler in hand, sharing smiles with women from a local shelter, entranced by the 100,000 hand-cut sheets of recycled plastic bags fluttering all around us. We are assembling a giant 255-meter naga (a mythical water serpent), which will rise in the... Read more »

Why “I Am Not a Slut” Sounds Familiar

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Why “I Am Not a Slut” Sounds Familiar Girls and young women do a delicate dance between feeling sexual in a positive way and being shamed/blamed for expressing any part of that sexuality, even for giving the appearance of acting on it. There’s the good slut and the bad slut, according to Leora Tanenbaum. In between,... Read more »

Letting Our Hair Down

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Nadia’s hair salon is on the ground floor of her house, a five-minute drive from my house in the Jewish town of Kiryat Tivon. Nadia Zubidat, 38 years old, lives in the Bedouin village of Zubidat, 15 kilometers southeast of Haifa, in Israel’s Galilee. We have known each other for 10 years, and in that... Read more »

at a hard-won seder

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I was picking out grapes at the market on a last-minute errand before Passover when I heard someone say in a lilting, foreign accent: “It’s hard work to harvest grapes.” I looked up. The voice came from a gnarled, elderly woman with sunken eyes and a gaunt face. She wore a gray dress and a... Read more »

Probabilities

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Ryan proposed on Valentine’s Day, 2009, arriving home with his lunch pail and one red rose, the twins jumping and giggling and clapping. Did the girls attach some significance to one red rose? Had he been watching reality TV with them on those nights when Jane was at the high school trying to teach color... Read more »

Excuse Me: How To Make Small Talk

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Liana Finck’s graphic novel is A Bintel Brief. She writes and draws a monthly column for The Forward and her cartoons appear irregularly in The New Yorker. Her graphic blog — “Excuse Me” — appears regularly at Lilith.org/blog.

I Was Reborn

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I did not appear from sea-foam like Venus.I was born in a hot cauldronin the pine woodsnear Vilnius. Lithuanian witcheshad been mixing the potionmix of sweat, blood, tubercular phlegmfrom the lungs of young poets and artists,coal dust from chimneysin medieval cobblestoned streets,pigeon feathers and cat fur. Also, morning dewfrom the fields of linen and buckwheat,fragrant... Read more »

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