Lilith FeatureHow To Braid Challah
1st Place Winner of the Charlotte A. Newberger Poetry Contest
Gringa Guilt and Housework
Grace Paley: Collected Shorts A firebrand for decades, short-story writer Grace Paley opposed war and nuclear proliferation and fought for women’s rights and the preservation of the environment. Though her steadfast activism often landed her in jail, she demonstrated how one person can make a difference. Lilly Rivlin’s new film about Paley, now in its... Read more »
Childhood traumas cast a long shadow in Laundry by Suzane Adam, translated from the Hebrew by Becka Mara McKay (Autumn Hill Books, $16.95). The protagonists of the novel, Ephraim and his wife Ildiko, also called by her Hebrew name, Chavatzelet, are a young couple building lives in Israel in the shadow of their families’ experiences in Transylvania —... Read more »
Adam Anker, the narrator of the novel Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson (Penguin, $15.00), begins his tale by describing the blank that is the canvas of his life, then slowly filling in the picture plane. The initial strokes limn a day in which Adam, a musician and professor, visits the Holocaust Gallery of a New Zealand museum and... Read more »
In Fault Lines (Grove, $14.00), Nancy Huston tells the story of four generations of a family fractured by its collision with Nazi Germany. In reverse chronological order Huston introduces us to a series of three six-year-old, first-person narrators, each one an only child who is the sole vessel for the previous generations’ grief. In the novel’s last section we... Read more »
This debut book of poems by Idra Novey — The Next Country (Alice James Books, $14.95) — opens with the surreal “Aubade for Vinã del Mar,” where a violin suddenly and magically grows in the pocket of the speaker’s coat. An aubade is traditionally a poem about lovers separating at dawn, and Vinã del Mar — the love-subject of... Read more »
“I don’t think I would be a writer today had I not, at some point, decided I had the right,” writes poet Kristen Prevallet. Many of the poets in Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts and Affections (University of Iowa Press, $24.95) describe such moments, when the decision to write took on a sudden necessity and significance. Editors Arielle... Read more »
Psalms of the Jewish Liturgy (Aviv Press, $17.95) by Miriyam Glazer is designed to bring readers greater access to the many psalms that appear in weekday, Shabbat and holiday services. The subtitle, “A Guide to Their Beauty, Power and Meaning,” aptly describes Glazer’s approach. The book’s down-toearth language and examples from daily life help the psalms feel relevant... Read more »
The Scenic Route by Binnie Kirshenbaum (Harper Perennial, $13.99) is a road trip through Europe and through Sylvia Landsman’s life. It is testament to Kirshenbaum’s skills and insights that an avid traveler finds the latter more interesting. Landsman, on the surface, fits a type: Jewish, middle-aged, divorced and recently unemployed. Beneath the surface, she is a cacophony of... Read more »
Poets on the Edge: An Anthology of Contemporary Hebrew Poetry selected and translated by Tsipi Keller (SUNY Press, $24.95) takes its readers on a journey to a far away land, an Israel that is at once familiar and foreign. As a whole, the poems presented in this anthology reveal their 27 writers’ aspirations, conflicts and nightmares: from Holocaust... Read more »
The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious by Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg (Schocken Books, $27.95) presents 12 Bible stories and rabbinic elaborations of those stories from a psychoanalytic perspective. Zornberg’s method resembles collagemaking more closely than conventional critical argumentation: She juxtaposes texts from medieval midrash, Hasidic commentaries from centuries later, contemporary philosophy, and poetry — typically beautiful and... Read more »
Traveling today to Rosh Pina, a city in northern Israel with a world-class spa, an art colony, and winding picturesque roads, it is hard to imagine the terrain when Fania Mandelstam, 16, arrives at the end of the nineteenth century. Shulamit Lapid, in Valley of Strength (Toby Press, $24.95), vividly portrays the hardships and political struggles of the... Read more »
“What does it mean to love someone who isn’t there?” So asks Noa Weber, narrator of The Confessions of Noa Weber by Gail Hareven (Melville House, $16.95), in her novel’s sober recounting of unrequited love. Noa is 47 and living in modern-day Jerusalem when she tells the story of her one-sided love affair with the Russian journalist Alek. “Me... Read more »
Some of the very best writing can be about writing itself. Take, for example, the new anthology Hebrew Writers on Writing (Trinity University Press, $24.95), edited by Peter Cole, noted poet, translator, and MacArthur Foundation Fellow. The pieces assembled here, translated by Cole and several others, enable the English-reading audience to make the acquaintance of... Read more »
Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace, by Ayelet Waldman (Doubleday, $24.95) is an honest and humorous memoir of the author’s motherhood journey. When asked in an interview why she wrote her new book, Ayelet Waldman responds with a question: “Do you want the snarky answer or the real one?”... Read more »
Anyone who has lost a loved one through suicide undoubtedly knows the excruciating pain and bafflement of trying to understand “Why?” But when, in August 1969, Johanna Reiss, author of A Hidden Life (Melville House, $24.95), learned that her husband of 11 years had killed himself, her shock was exacerbated by the fact that she had believed, until... Read more »
In A Fortunate Age, the debut novel from Joanna Smith Rakoff (Scribner, $26.00), six Oberlin graduates discover for themselves what twentysomethings have known for generations: life in New York can be filled with possibilities, adventures, hardships and heartbreak. An homage to Mary McCarthy’s classic 1930s novel, The Group, Smith Rakoff ’s entertaining comic account tumbles through the lives of... Read more »
Incommunicado for decades, her writer dad surfaces in a death notice. What fleeing his first family did to the daughter he left behind.
Understanding the existential power of these ultimate rituals, visionary women are now taking control, engaging with traditional practices while creating new ways to mark this final lifecycle event. Baby namings for girls, egalitarian weddings and divorces — these you know. But what makes a good funeral? And why does it matter how you memorialize a woman? Rabbis, funeral directors and feminist icons weigh in on how to revise this ceremonial passage.
Hannah Sokolov — a young Jewish wife and mother transplanted by her husband from Brooklyn — meets the Watermans, a black couple who labor in the local fish store; she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Samuel and, as a result, to Belle as well.
In the Civil War, Jews — Jewish women in particular— unexpectedly found themselves on both sides of the conflict.
What did you miss when you were glued to the TV watching two seasons of a male shrink and his challenging patients? Showalter gives you a gender lens through which to view this hit HBO series.
The setting: An April fundraising gala at Lincoln Center. Above the stage hangs a sepia headshot of Anne Frank projected on a giant screen. 450 guests look on. The action: An assemblage of black and Jewish teenage singers and musicians form a semicircle below the screen while down stage a young black woman performs a... Read more »
Thirty-two-year-old Efrat Mekonan has never fit into an predictable picture or story; that’s part of why she is so determined to help other Ethiopian-Israelis who are struggling. Born in an isolated Jewish community in the Gondar region of Ethiopia, she lost both her parents before she turned eight, and at nine, walked for six months, her one-year-old... Read more »
Risa Strauss is program director of Toronto’s Kavanah Garden, a Jewish, organic sub/urban community teaching garden. Located just outside the city, it offers hands-on experience using Jewish ecological and agricultural wisdom. Strauss is also involved in an emerging Jewish C.S.A. (community-sponsored agriculture) project (hence the pickles). For more information on the Kavanah Garden, check out www.torathateva.org.
Small of stature, Helena Rubinstein, neé Chaja Rubinstein (4’10”) and Elizabeth Arden, neé Florence Nightingale Graham (5’2”) pressed a long-lasting, red-rouged imprint into the 20th century and beyond. PBS’s recent documentary “The Powder and the Glory” offered an intimate look at their personal and professional lives, and their lifelong rivalry. Rubinstein was a philanthropist, an art collector, and an early... Read more »
Give credit to Jewish Women International of Canada (JWIC) for their polyglot inclusivity, reaching out to Jewish women by publishing two of its major publications in several languages. “Protect Yourself: Stop the Violence Against You,” a pamphlet for women escaping domestic abuse, printed in English, French, Hebrew, Spanish and Russian, has already been widely distributed... Read more »
To help fund the redesign of its website, Lilith threw the non-profit organization’s first-ever silent auction. The event, March 26 at Drisha in Manhattan, was a huge success, thanks to the generosity of donors far and wide. Many Lilith supporters not only attended the event, but — from across the country and the globe — provided... Read more »
What do biblical women’s stories, klezmer-punk with a side order of bluegrass and Central America have in common? Alicia Jo Rabins, whose well-deserved personal tagline is “fiddler extraordinaire.” Rabins, perhaps best known in Jewish circles for her fast fiddling with the band Golem, popular for their unique klezmer-punk fusions, has recently launched a new project: Girls... Read more »
When we’re editing an issue of Lilith, often a single subject takes center stage and stays there; much of the content seems to accrete around one theme, like iron filings toward a magnet. This time was different. First we settled on the fiction. In a year when racial diversity is evident in the White House, in... Read more »