Summer 1996

Creating sacred space at summer camp, in a closet, or in a basement. Finding out you’re Jewish. Sex, or scholarship? Medieval Christianity allowed celibate women to use their minds like men.

Cover art is an excerpt from Anna Ruth Henrique's illustrated manuscript, The Book of Mechtilde.

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In This Issue

Lilith Feature

The Mysteries of Sacred Space

Architects have always known the place can affect our feelings of holiness. Now we have clues about how women’s experiences can create a holy space in the cellar of a shul, under a tree, behind a file cabinet, even (despite the objections of men) at the Western Wall.

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The World According to Women


Never mind Charles-and-Di mugs. LILITH finds a ceramist--Sandy Goldberg--who commemorates what really matters in life, with plates for your sideboard making the grand occasions of getting a grant or finding a comfortable bra.

Trade-Off: Sex or Scholarship?


Unlike Judaism, medieval Christianity had a loophole that allowed some women to use their minds as if they were men. The loophole? Celibacy.

Louise Kehoe Converts: Why?


Before Mary Gordon found out that her father was Jewish, Louise Kehoe had penetrated her dead father’s final legacy—-he was no lapsed Romanoff living in rural England, but a tortured shtetl Jew, in disguise. After suffering both his denial and his cruelties, she emerges as a Jew too.

Wayward Hearts


Slowly, slowly, a young, pregnant and faithful Buffalo wife in the 1950’s falls into a sexual trance over the unbidden attention of a newly widowed man. Then her sister takes over

The Persistence of Memory


Secrets leak out of the fissures in a crumbling family system when the nice Jewish doctor son comes out as a homosexual. Trying to repair the damage, an aunt blows the cover on his mother’s Holocaust past.

Dudu in Heaven


Dudu left for the Six Day War without saying goodbye. Years later, his sister (with a son who looks just like him) meets up with Dudu again. Bring your hanky.

Case #4 Sacred Wall?


In 1988, women came to the Kotel [Jerusalem’s Western Wall] with a Torah and were greeted with curses and thrown chairs. Israel’s Supreme Court, in deference to halacha, told them that “the voice of the woman is lewd.” Three years ago, the Israeli government called a truce: If women held off on praying aloud or... Read more »

Case #3 Sacred Fuse Box Closet


When my father died, I decided I was going to continue saying Kaddish once a day for the traditional eleven months and one day. By chance, a “Minha map” appeared in the mail at work from Agudat Yisrael, an Orthodox organization, showing offices all over Manhattan where a davener could find a lunch-time minyan. I’m... Read more »

Case #2 Sacred Tree


In the summer of 1961 my mother drove me to Camp Ramah in the Poconos. While I unpacked in my new bunk, she explored the grounds—the beautiful lake, several leafy groves, rustic clapboard bungalows. In the 1920’s my mother had briefly gone to a sleep-away camp that she’d loved—Camp Tabor. But a polio epidemic had... Read more »

Case #1 Sacred Basement


I am searching for that primordial Torah, the one the mystics speak of, the one written with black fire on white fire that rested on God’s knee. I imagine God consulting it, just before Creation, as a woman might consult a cookbook, her index finger moving along from line to line, adding in stars and trees... Read more »



SPEAKING OF WOMEN Re your piece on the Lions of Judah (Winter ’95-’96): I think you missed a golden opportunity to comment on the fact that the UJA and Federation Women’s Division events (including the Women’s Institute at the annual General Assembly) invariably have men as their keynote speakers at major meetings such as the one you... Read more »

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