Lilith FeatureFood for Thought
7 pages on sensuality, humor, guilt, love, shame, power, memory, gluttony and delight
Where I come from, women don’t go to college. I was raised as an ultra-Orthodox Jew. So I was expected to marry as young as possible, to have as many children as possible. To spend my life caring for my husband and children. There’s no room in that life for college or a career. Shakespeare... Read more »
Ruth Weisberg Unfurled looks back through 30 years of paintings and drawings by the Los Angeles artist, with its centerpiece her 94-foot long “Scroll.” Her works synthesize personal experiences, lifecycle events, biblical motifs, Jewish history and rabbinic legends. “Scroll” includes portraits of a female rabbi and a girl’s bat mitzvah ceremony. Through July 29, at... Read more »
If You Awaken Love (translated from Hebrew by David Hazony, Toby Press, $14.95) is a stunning debut by Emuna Elon, the author of several children’s books and short stories, and the wife of Knesset Member Benny Elon. The protagonist and narrator, Shlomtzion Drore, takes the reader along with her as she muses on the strange... Read more »
The Border of Truth, an ambitious new novel by Victoria Redel, is an intricately woven tale of truth and deception and the ever-shifting border between them. The book tells the story of Sara Leader and her father, Richard (once known as Itzak). Sara’s narrative is set in Manhattan in 2003, while her father’s account is... Read more »
Lore Segal’s Shakespeare’s Kitchen (New Press, $22.95) revisits many themes from the author’s previous novels. The immigrant experience, the joys of language and the difficulties of communication all find new and powerful expression in the 13 interrelated stories in Segal’s longawaited third work of adult fiction (she is also the author of the popular children’s... Read more »
A Day of Small Beginnings (Little, Brown, $24.99) by Lisa Pearl Rosenbaum is an intergenerational saga which takes the reader back and forth from Poland to America to Poland again, on the wings of a lost soul. The story begins in Poland in 1906, when a young Jewish boy, Itzik Leiber, defends a group of... Read more »
Hélène Cixous, French writer, philosopher, feminist and activist, is best-known in the United States for The Laugh of the Medusa (1976), a feminist manifesto about feminine writing (“écriture feminine”), where she lays out the foundations for a form of writing liberated from the constraints of masculine logic. In France, however, she is a more controversial... Read more »
About What Was Lost (Plume, $15.00) collects responses to miscarriage that were generally left unsaid by earlier generations of women. The introduction by editor and contributor Jessica Berger Gross traces the genesis of this volume to her search for other voices with which she could identify in the aftermath of her own miscarriage in her... Read more »
There is a rich and varied tradition of Holocaust literature for young adults. Two recent additions to this genre, Tamar (Candlewick, $17.99) and The Book Thief (Knopf, $16.95), should be recognized for bringing less-known narratives of World War II — the stories, respectively, of the Dutch resistance and of a young girl in the German... Read more »
Even the very title of the book, My Holocaust by Tova Reich (Harper Collins, $24.95) is intentionally provocative. In truth, the same warnings posted above the gates of particularly nauseating roller-coasters ought to be printed in big letters on the front cover of this novel: This Is Not for The Faint of Heart. Stay Seated,... Read more »
Shira Nayman’s debut fiction collection, Awake in the Dark (Scribner, $24.00), took me back to an icy November day in 1996 in a Lithuanian village where some 65,000 Jews had been murdered during WWII. It was a day of memorial and reconciliation. Jewish children and adults joined with those in the village, walking the long... Read more »
A rabbi counsels a congregant. A daughter mulls whether she should get tested for the BrCa gene. An ultra-Orthodox mother now has nothing to hide under her wig. Here, a medical student dramatizes the feelings that follow diagnosis.
Anthropologist Ruth Behar explains.
Another in the Lilith series on rituals Judaism forgot to provide for us, so we're doing it ourselves. Matlaw remembers-and honors-her late mother by doing what her mom did best: dressing others so they looked terrific. How mom's taste lives on after her.
This year's winner of the Charlotte Newberger Poetry Prize
A strange, knobby thing, this new fruit. Leathery crimson skin bruised in spots, and a place like a rupture leading in deep, past the armor. Your knife severs it cleanly in two, slicing through red skin, thick white pith, and seeds that nestle in luminous rows like the most flamboyant Indian corn. You force your... Read more »
Susan Remson cooks with the women in her life, past and present. It’s not quite magical realism, but the conjuring capabilities of our recipe boxes come pretty close.
Melissa Orshan Spann confesses that despite her professional smarts — she counsels women with eating disorders — she was almost a victim of Perfect Day pre-wedding starvationrituals herself.
Elise Wiener draws together next-generation Syrian Jews with the help of Aunt Ray’s magical recipe, straight fromthe Fry-o-Lator. (Bonus: recipe included.)
Susan Weidman Schneider interviews Lacey Schwartz
It started as something entirely underground — a YouTube video teenagers sent around to one another. The allure, for those musically inclined to Jewish hip hop, was obvious: Miri Ben Ari, the Israeli performer known as the hip-hop violinist and whose recent work with stars like Kanye West and Alicia Keyes catapulted her into the... Read more »
Aswat (Arabic for “Voices”), the organization that recently celebrated its fifth anniversary of activism on behalf of lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex Palestinians, is finally getting some recognition — although not all of it welcoming. Their recent conference was openly criticized by the Islamic Movement inside Israel, which condemned the group and called for the... Read more »
There is a stained glass window in the entryway of Congregation Tifereth Yakov with the words, “To Life From Ashes.” Tifereth Yakov was founded by Holocaust survivors. The shul is part of The Four Seasons Lodge, a cooperatively run summer bungalow colony in Ellenville, New York. Congregants — almost all from Austria, Germany, Hungary and... Read more »
No one can deny that Jews and their rabbis have had a contentious relationship throughout the ages. Sometimes revered, sometimes condescended to, frequently illpaid — it hasn’t always been easy for rabbis. Now, however, they’re getting their due. Well — sort of. Newsweek published a list this past April naming “The Top 50 Rabbis in... Read more »
Lilith sent London-based writer Sally Berkovic and Melanie Weiss, Lilith’s assistant editor, to cover the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance’s 10th annual conference in New York. Given their contrast generationally, geographically (Sally flew in from the U .K.; Mel took the train from Brooklyn), denominationally (Sally identifies as Orthodox and Mel as Conservative — usually), and... Read more »
Honesty is always the best policy — unless, of course, you’re talking about sex. The Orthodox Union (OU) has recently launched Negiah. org [negiah is Hebrew for touch], “the first abstinence website for Jewish teens.” Its aim is to teach Jewish youth that “it’s okay to say no.” This may be a good thing in... Read more »
My father’s parents were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, executed in 1953 for stealing the secret of the atomic bomb and giving it to the Soviets. My grandparents were union activists and communists while the Red Scare had reached a fever pitch; it was an intensely political trial. My grandmother was arrested on flimsy evidence in... Read more »
On April 18, 2007, the United States Supreme Court handed down a five-to-four vote on a case known officially as Gonzalez v. Carhart. Among the dissenting Justices was Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In a highly unusual move, Justice Ginsburg read her dissent aloud. Here is some of what she said: “Despite our unambiguous ruling [in Stenberg v.... Read more »
I’ve just come from a family reunion with kin whose ages range from 8 months to 98 years. While the connections were pure pleasure, still I’m left uneasy — forced to revise some longstanding assumptions. A small but telling example: In one of those interstitial conversations that work their way into reunions, I learned that... Read more »