Lilith FeatureOut and Ordained
New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary graduates its first openly lesbian rabbi.
Desire lurking behind a grandmother's frailty.
Harvey Milk, Kate Bornstein, and Lesléa Newman are the first three subjects in the LGBT Jewish Heroes poster series from Keshet, and organization which works for full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jews in Jewish life. In 1978, in San Francisco, Harvey Milk became the first openly gay man elected to a major... Read more »
Toward the beginning of Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial (Yale University Press, $25), Janet Malcolm writes, “We go through life mishearing and mis-seeing and misunderstanding so that the stories we tell ourselves will add up. Trial lawyers push this human tendency to a higher level. They are playing for higher stakes... Read more »
Given the thriving motherhood industry — with books and mommy blogs featuring rigid philosophies of childcare and manuals on feeding, sleeping, and calming fussy babies — I wonder what the experts and bloggers would say about Orly Castel-Bloom’s novel Dolly City (Dalkey Archive, $13.95) and its bad mother. Armed with dubious credentials from the University... Read more »
Two new books succeed in describing the complex roles of Jewish women in the time of Betty Friedan and the rise of the second wave feminist movement in America. In Jewish Feminists: Complex Identities and Activist Lives (University of Illinois Press, $20.00), Dina Pinsky seeks to build a complex understanding of who these foot-soldiers —... Read more »
Boundaries of Jewish Identity, edited by Susan A. Glenn and Naomi B. Sokoloff (University of Washington Press, $30.00), is an outstanding collection of essays that makes clear that the question “Who is a Jew?” has many answers. The essays engage this question not only across time and space but in matters as diverse as Israeli... Read more »
Old loves die hard and have lasting consequences; so we learn from Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26.00). Speaking of old loves, much has been made of Ozick’s early and ongoing literary love affair with Henry James. Foreign Bodies, an homage to her master, will have bookish readers puzzling out correspondences to James’... Read more »
Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt by Robert Gottlieb (Yale University Press, $25.00) is a breezy, somewhat irreverent look at the life of the famous French stage and early film actress. Bernhardt, who debuted in the theaters Paris in the 1870s, invented herself as both an actress and as one of the first world-renowned media... Read more »
In her memoir Half In Love (Counter Point, 25.00), Linda Gray Sexton, daughter of poet Anne Sexton, grapples with two of her mother’s legacies: a literary life and a death wish. In this insightful and moving memoir, Sexton explores and navigates the evolution of these legacies that translate into two primal forces: creativity and destruction.... Read more »
In Ugly Beauty: Helena Rubinstein, L’Oreal and the Blemished History of Looking Good (Harper, $26.99), Ruth Brandon masterfully blends her expertise as a cultural historian and biographer with her talent for writing detective stories and literary novels to produce a page-turning, insightful sprawl of a book. The mys- tery is this: how is Jewish entrepreneur... Read more »
In the gripping title story of the collection Hold On to the Sun by Michal Govrin (The Feminist Press, $16.95), a scholar of liturgy is haunted by the notion that the Jerusalem streets he traverses are only the fleeting product of his passage, nonexistent before he walks through them and afterwards erased. In the course... Read more »
For too long women have been expected to be passive. Two recent books — No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think about Power (Seal Press, $24.95) by Gloria Feldt and Push Comes to Shove (MIT Press, 27.95) by Maud Lavin — champion and advocate driven and aggressive women. Push Comes to Shove... Read more »
I have a friend who is a Superwoman. She has four kids under the age of six, multiple degrees, has launched a successful nonprofit, and is in the process of launching another. In addition, she wears a serene smile on her face and dresses beautifully. I asked her how she does it. She sparkled. “I... Read more »
Winner of Lilith’s 2011 Charlotte A. Newberger Poetry Prize
Lizzie noticed her shoes first. Dr. Karen Brown, fiftyish, wiry gray hair cut into a pageboy, no-nonsense dark shirt and trousers, greeted her at the door of her tiny office, offering a hand and a seat. Her open-toed heels were surprisingly stylish, a bright canary yellow peeking out beneath those sensible trousers. Lizzie immediately fell... Read more »
I lost my brother decades ago. I don’t mean that in any conventional sense; he’s alive, if not well, inhabiting the same 350-square-foot studio apartment he has called home for the past 30 years. But he’s been lost to me for a long time, as lost as if he disappeared into a deep forest, one... Read more »
A few weeks ago I went to Wesleyan University’s graduation and reunion weekend. A man visiting for his 60th reunion (class of 1951) said to me, “You know, I don’t really remember my own graduation.” “Good grief, of course not,” I thought, doing the math in my head. Then he continued, “I remember every detail... Read more »
1953. America is in a boom economy — people buying everything, discovering shopping as a hobby. My mother, my two brothers and I move into public housing. There is no car, the closets have no doors, we buy our clothes at John’s Bargain Basement. My mother works two jobs: by day she’s a comptometer operator,... Read more »
My brother doesn’t age. He stares back at me from a stamp-sized photo on the poster I have spent the last 10 years avoiding. To his right is a teenage girl lost to an explosion on a seafront promenade, to his left an army reservist whose jeep took a deadly wrong turn. The sixth victim... Read more »
Feisty modern girls who, in the 1930s, broke the boundaries, broke the records, and broke free.
Moshav B’nei Gilad, February 1966 It was common knowledge among the Jews of Sadjan that Mazal, the youngest daughter of the Zandani Silversmiths, had sharp eyes. Not sharp like old Shama’s, which could discern fortunes by squinting into coffee grounds splayed across the sides of her chipped cups, but eyes that could look at a... Read more »
Sexy while pregnant. Do those hot new maternity clothes really empower women?
“My dear beloved,” Iris began the letter to her husband, who would tomorrow be a year deceased. “Today in shul I sat between my parents. I lay the blame at your feet. The feet I would entangle with my smaller, colder ones, when you were considerate enough to be yet living. I sat between them,... Read more »
Rachel Isaacs knew by the age of 13 she wanted to be a rabbi. Awareness of her sexuality came later.
Self-proclaimed “Jewish lite” and new to town, a woman fights her bimah anxiety.
When Sheri Sandler (L) took her daughter, Eva (R) to Ukraine 14 years ago on a mother-daughter trip organized by Project Kesher, they were part of a discussion on what makes a home Jewish when there is a total absence of Jewish objects. “No candlesticks, kiddush cups, mezuzahs, dancing rabbis and the like,” comments Sandler.... Read more »
When veteran singer Darlene Love was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year, feminist music fans raised a collective cheer. Long known to cognoscenti as a powerful and indelible voice of the girl group era — that’s Love singing backup on the Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron” and the Ronettes’... Read more »
The Cone Collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art, with Gauguin’s “Woman of the Mango,” Picasso’s “Woman with Bangs,” and Matisse’s “Interior, Flowers and Parakeets,” is unusual both for its magnitude and for its intimacy — so many female figures, lush interiors, coves; so many bowls of anemones. The collectors were Dr. Claribel Cone (1864–1929)... Read more »
The first half of 2011 has been rough for reproductive rights in the United States. In the past few months alone, the Ohio legislature allowed a fetus to “testify” in support of an anti-choice bill, Minnesota and Indiana have joined Nebraska in outlawing abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy, South Dakota politicians have decreed... Read more »
Yael Hedaya is the Israeli novelist who wrote the seductive female patient segments of “B’Tipul,” the original Israeli TV series that became HBO’s “In Treatment.” She appeared this spring in New York at a screening of an episode from the Hebrew series’ first season, and revealed some of her challenges. Among them: creating a script... Read more »
In the touristy areas of the French Quarter, which was relatively unscathed by Katrina, New Orleans streets are full of buskers. By the dozens, these street performers enact all kinds of feats: lumber balancing, group singing, break dancing, rapping; at least this was the assortment I took in when I was there a couple of... Read more »