Including Old (and New) Wedding Rings, a Feminist Wedding Vow That Makes Housework Equitable, and a Vintage Marriage Agreement
When Ellie Schneider, heroine of Francesca Segal’s The Innocents (Hyperion, $25.99), sits in a London synagogue on Yom Kippur eve, heads turn and tongues wag. She is newly returned to London from New York, a figure of scandal, having starred in an ostensibly pornographic movie and gotten kicked out of graduate school. She is also... Read more »
“The Lyons,” Nicky Silver‘s play, now on Broadway at the Cort Theater for an open-ended run, is billed as a comedy. When I saw it recently, the audience around me – mostly Jewish, comfortable and over 65 – seemed to love it, laughing, cheering and applauding (as have the vast majority of the critics). I... Read more »
As people around North America celebrate the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary this year, I find myself reflecting on how Girl Scouting affected my life. Found Juliette Gordon Low’s vision of empowering young women has been fulfilled tremendously, and yet not enough. There are parts of the country where “Jewish Girl Scout” is an oxymoron. Luckily... Read more »
Fifteen-year-old Lilli Leight of Miami, Florida, has just won the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize for a two-part initative that began as a bat mitzvah project: a “giving library” that has provided thousands of books for children in a local homeless shelter, and a teen book club aptly named “iRead” to get others... Read more »
This spring, Toby Mower, a substance abuse treatment counselor, gave a significant grand to Ben Gurion University of the Negev to create Israel’s first-ever curriculum teaching practitioners ways to treat – and even prevent – addiction. Mower, 73, told Lilith that the spur for this innovative education venture came out of her own experience. She... Read more »
The number 40 appears several times in the Bible. Most memorably, the Hebrews spent 40 years wandering in the desert before reaching the Promised Land. The number 40 took on another significance in June with a program to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ordination of Rabbi Sally Preisand, the first female rabbi in modern... Read more »
“The themes are universal, the same themes people explore today: going off to war, unrequited love, crushes, death, family dynamics. The music has crossed geographic boundaries and political ones, and the songs are often very celebratory of women – and very sexy. Too often, Ladino singers sing without really understanding the lyrics. They sing the... Read more »
Now, how shall I speak of a love that only has whatever one feels, and before which the word “love” is a dusty object? The hell I had gone through — how can I explain it to you? — had been the hell that comes from love. Ah, people put the idea of sin in... Read more »
In one of her incisive short poems, the English poet Stevie Smith assumes the voice of a dead man: “I was much further out than you thought,” he moans, “I was much too far out all my life / And not waving but drowning.” Luckily for the heroine of this quietly powerful novel, Saving Ruth... Read more »
Shadows in Winter by Eitan Fishbane (Syracuse University Press, 2011) is a compelling, lyrical and honest look into what happens when the worst occurs. In 2007, Fishbane’s wife, Leah — graduate student in Jewish history, mother to their four-year-old girl, Aderet, and two months pregnant — discovered a previously undiagnosed brain tumor and died two days later. Fishbane, a... Read more »
The students in the course I am teaching on “Jewish Women Writers and the Search for Religion” have difficulty with the portrait of Orthodoxy often found in contemporary fiction. They ask: Is it really this bad? Aren’t there any women with more positive perspectives on the Orthodox experience? (They wonder, too: are these the same... Read more »
Several years ago, when my daughter was in middle school and Israel was very much in the news, I was struck by the dearth of young adult fiction that might help her understand its complexities. Thankfully the Israeli author Nava Semel has made solid contributions in this category with Flying Lessons, Becoming Gershona, and And... Read more »
In the Israeli society of which I am a part, there is an entire lexicon devoted to those whose religious practice is different from that of their parents and upbringing: from baalei teshuva (masters of repentance) who grew up secular and “returned” to Jewish tradition, to hozrim b’she’eila (returning with questions) and datlashim (datiim l’she-avar,... Read more »
Bagels, Blueberry Buns, Baby BeefAre you a chef or nutritionist? Consider yourself kind of kosher? Would you not eat meat if you had to kill and prepare it yourself? Grow your own vegetables? Say a blessing before eating? Your grandparents were farmers? You might find others like yourself at Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs, the Jewish... Read more »
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 »
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 »
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?
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 »
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.
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.
Ken Goldman, 52, is one of the most whimsical Judaica artists out there [check out kengoldmanart.com]. 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 »
As parents, we believe we must share all responsibility for taking care of our children and home — not only the work, but the responsibility.
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 »
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 »
Changing how you think about wedding vows. Changing what you feel about being Jewish if you’re poor. Changing social structures with the money you give away. Even changing your gender. Making change can upend our expectations. And yet some things resist change. The ways women prefer to communicate is one of them. Even in a... Read more »