Summer 2012

Is it shameful to be Jewish and poor?  A new marriage ritual pushes for domestic equality. Seeing a child through transgender surgery. Why I gave a kidney to a stranger.

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In This Issue

Lilith Feature


Including Old (and New) Wedding Rings, a Feminist Wedding Vow That Makes Housework Equitable, and a Vintage Marriage Agreement

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Why I Gave a Kidney to a Stranger


Last month, I was wheeled into an operating room in Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva, an anesthesiologist said laila tov, and a surgeon removed my left kidney, which was brought to an adjoining operating room and put into the abdomen of a 23-year-old Israeli dental student from Georgia, FSU, whom I met for the first... Read more »



Becca slips out of the library with her blue bag hidden under her arm. She’s not having an affair or embezzling the overdue fines. She’s on her scheduled lunch hour. And it was Sister Marie Claire herself who showed her the secret room off the stairwell, and gave her the key. And yet, Becca’s heart... Read more »



It had begun innocently enough, over a jar of Baco-Bits in among the canned soup and vermicelli collected in a box that the synagogue had placed in the church lobby it rented for a food drive during the high holidays. She had been dropping off macaroni and cheese made from organic semolina and Vermont cheddar,... Read more »

Face Me


Lori follows Sharon down the sunlit hall and into the bathroom, dim as a cave. She wants the makeover Sharon promised, even though it’s Shabbes and they’re not supposed to touch makeup. Sharon’s family doesn’t snap electric switches on Shabbes, and using cosmetics, as far as Lori can tell, might potentially be even more forbidden... Read more »

Gender and Generosity in Israel


An activist starts a women’s fund in Modi’in and discovers that kindness and cooking are the coin of the realm for women. How’s that gonna drive systemic change in women’s lives?

Sabbath Service


This Sabbath eve you struggle as you enter rest. Morphine slides shut the doorsand opens them; we glimpse another room, inside this one, in which you try to give your name back to the Nameless. Your parched body closes, you spiral inward, speaking in consonants without the breath of vowels. The rabbi sweeps his hand... Read more »

How my Daughter Became my Son


Her daughter becomes her son, but Sennesh remains constant; “too calm,” her kid says. And parents of LGBTQ children get an instruction manual in “Casual Coming-Out Comments” by Catherine Tuerk — wise advice on how to let the world know your child is gay or lesbian.

My Welfare Mom, Our Food Stamps, and Why I’m a Marginal Jew


Class, caste, and cleaning the toilets at Brandeis. Feeling always illegitimate as a Jew, and now a parent herself, Kott approaches Judaism tentatively, suspiciously, and yearningly.

Postmodern House Rings


Ken Goldman, 52, is one of the most whimsical Judaica artists out there [check out]. A communitarian — he’s lived on Kibbutz Shluchot for 27 years, but is a New Jersey boy — he was first drawn to house rings because they “belonged to the community, then became personal property for a short while, then reverted to the... Read more »

“A Marriage Agreement”— 1970


As parents, we believe we must share all responsibility for taking care of our children and home — not only the work, but the responsibility.

Try a New Wedding Vow (This Time the Man Gets the Ring)


My grandfather and three of his seven siblings immigrated to America from Zawada, Poland, and ever after talked about one subject perseveratively: the hard life of their mother Rose. “She never had a day that was really living,” was what my great-uncle told his granddaughter, Shelley Roth, when she interviewed him: To get the family’s... Read more »

The “House Rings” Miracle


Last spring when my partner and i got married, we didn’t use just two wedding rings. We used four. And that wasn’t because we were trying to upset convention any more than we already had — with two brides of two faiths under a huppah. To the contrary, we were following a venerable Jewish tradition, in use... Read more »

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