Lilith FeatureWho Are We?
Each of us has a name
It turns out that Woody Allen didn’t invent anhedonia. For Jewish immigrants in America, happiness was just not seen as a legitimate goal in life. Lilith's back page on women’s history—"The Way We Were"—asks what happened when the American ideal of romantic love and matinee idols clashed with the realities of sour tenement lives.
ON CAMPUS A National Conference on Judaism and Feminism for college and university students of all religious backgrounds will be held March 27-30 at Yale University. Biblical scholar Aviva Zornberg will be the keynote speaker in a program of seminars, lectures and interactive workshops on issues facing a new generation of Jewish women. How does our... Read more »
A QUESTION OF BALANCE: ARTISTS AND WRITERS ON MOTHERHOODby Judith Pierce RosenbergPapier Mache Press, Wotsonville, CA, $19.95 When her kids were small, Alicia Ostriker wrote everywhere: sitting on a bus, on the living room sofa, in bed; even, she says, while she was driving. Mary Morris makes outer order before creatively approaching her inner disorder,... Read more »
FRUITFUL: A REAL MOTHER IN THE MODERN WORLDby Anne RoipheHoughton Mifflin, $22.95 In her new book, Anne Roiphe, author of Up the Sandbox, Lovingkindness and A Season for Healing: Reflections on the Holocaust, makes a passionate case for feminists to wrest the championship of motherhood away from the Christian Coalition. In this thoughtful account, Roiphe... Read more »
WRITING MOTHERS, WRITING DAUGHTERS: TRACING THE MATERNAL IN STORIES BY AMERICAN JEWISH WOMENby Janet Handler BursteinUniversity of Illinois Press, $34.95, cloth, $14.95, paper Under a cloak of academic analysis, Janet Handler Burstein has worked out a complex understanding of the relationships between Jewish American mothers and daughters. On one level, this is a discussion of... Read more »
GHOST STORIESby E.M. BronerGlobal City Press, New York, $12, paper Ghost Stories is the most recent book by noted Jewish feminist author E.M. Broner, and it is as satisfying as we have come to expect from her. This collection of short stories delves into the relationship between a woman and her dying mother. But this... Read more »
LOVE INVENTS USby Amy BloomRandom House, $21 At last, a truly Jewish writer who has found her way out of the ghetto. Amy Bloom’s coming-of-age novel echoes the cadences and concerns of an older Jewish immigrant population but speaks in a voice that is overtly modern. Like Carson McCullers’ Member of the Wedding, it explodes... Read more »
THE FAMILY MARKOWITZby Allegra GoodmanFarrar, Straus, Giroux, $22 Imagine your favorite, comfy chair. Then cover it in a clear, protective plastic. That is the image of family nurturance that Allegra Goodman describes in her new work of fiction, and it is the illustration that graces the book’s cover. It is a collection of stories about... Read more »
TAKING JUDAISM PERSONALLYby Judy PetsonkThe Free Press, $25 In this anecdotal and intimate history of the last 30 years of the Jewish renewal movement in the United States, Judy Petsonk describes the ways many previously disconnected Jews have refuelled their spiritual lives. The Havurah, where Jews associate together informally in small groups to daven, study... Read more »
IN MEMORY’S KITCHEN: A LEGACY FROM THE WOMEN OF TEREZINedited by Cara De Silva translated by Bianca Steiner Brown foreword by Michael BerenbaumJason Aronson Inc., Northvale, N.J., $25 Reading “In Memory’s Kitchen,” you almost feel crumbling in your hands the pages of the original manuscript—a makeshift cookbook scribbled on scraps of paper by women incarcerated... Read more »
BITTER SCENT: THE CASE OF L’OREAL, NAZIS, AND THE ARAB BOYCOTTby Michael Bar-ZoharDutton, $23.95 Once Jean Frydman, a Jew, held a high-ranking position on the board of the multi-million dollar cosmetics company L’Oreal. Then the Arab Boycott Bureau—adamant that merchandisers doing business in Arab lands sever all ties with Israel—pressured L’Oreal to oust him. Asked... Read more »
NICE JEWISH GIRLS: GROWING UP IN AMERICAedited by Marlene AdIer MarksPenguin Books, $12.95 Marlene Adler Marks may have intended irony in the title of her new anthology of fiction, poetry and memoirs about the Jewish-American-female experience, but the disappointing truth is that the girls described in these pages really are “nice.” They’re not nice in... Read more »
THE NOVICE INSOMNIACby Emily Warn CopperCanyon Press, Port Townsend, WA, $12 Emily Warn’s second volume of poetry, The Novice Insomniac, integrates Jewish themes, personal memories and a formidable engagement with the natural world. Her poems’ rich textures stem from images of vegetation, roots and flowers, which reflect the multi-colored emotions of characters as they travel on... Read more »
WOMEN OF THE BEAT GENERATION: THE WITERS, ARTISTS, AND MUSES AT THE HEART OF THE REVOLUTION edited by Brenda Knight Conari Press, Berkeley, CA, $19.95 This refreshing book revives the women who were at the center of the Beat movement but were concealed in the long shadows of their male counterparts. This is a collection... Read more »
GENDER EQUALITY AND AMERICAN JEWS by Moshe Hartman and Harriet Hartman State University of New York Press, $24.95, paper When the Council of Jewish Federations released its National Jewish Population Survey in 1990, the number seized upon by the press and the pulpit was the high percentage of Jews who marry non-Jews. Now social scientists... Read more »
BUDAPEST DIARY: IN SEARCH OF THE MOTHERBOOK by Susan Rubin Suleiman University of Nebraska Press, $25 In Hungarian, the word “motherbook,” anyakonyv, is anything but poetic in its meaning. It is the official book of records—birth certificates, marriage licenses, death certificates. But when Susan Rubin Suleiman, a professor of French at Harvard University known for both her literary... Read more »
Genesis is in. Eve, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and yes, even Lilith, are popping up in every new book. Everyone and her mother wants to reexamine the compelling story of Genesis. PBS has even launched a series of televised group discussions entitled “Genesis: A Living Conversation.” But’ these new hooks are not only appropriate for the solitary... Read more »
Who are the pillars of present-day Jewish feminist scholarship? And what do these women-and the "pioneer scholars" of the 1970s and 1980s say about Jewish women’s studies )and about each other) as we approach the year 2000. A LILITH 20th anniversary review.
Healing : A survivor' s guilt becomes peace
Judith Helfand lost her reproductive system at 25 thanks to the "wonder drug" her mother took while pregnant. As "A Healthy Baby Girl"—Helfand’s startling film about being a DES daughter—heads to the Sundance Festival, Helfand talks about her mom, her politics and the community of filmmakers who’ve helped her heal.
Eldercare: A granddaughter moves from hostility to love.
"Everywhere I read that we are created in God’s image. What about me? Does God also walk with crutches, have difficulty breathing? Why did God do such a lousy job with my body?" One professor asks the questions; Rachel Naomi Remen and Rabbi Shoni Labovitz offer partial answers.
AVERTING DEATH When I was 15 years old, my mother died. She was 46. At that time, my aunt told me, “your grandmother and great grandmother also died at age 46, so you’d better watch out when you’re 46.” I always lived in fear of being 46. My panic started when I turned 45. It... Read more »
Each of us has a name,given to us by God,and given to us by our fatherand mother.Each of us has a name,given to us by our statureand our way of smiling,and given to us by our clothes.Each of us has a name,given to us by the mountains,and given to us by our walls.Each of us... Read more »
When my partner and I decided to have our commitment ceremony, we were thinking of how to create a family unit. Traditionally in Judaism, when a couple marries they choose a new name. We wanted to find something that reflected something intrinsic about our relationship. One of the words that really meant a lot to... Read more »
My name is SEENA CANDY SWEET No, really, seriously, that’s my name. It’s on my birth certificate. It’s not made up. No, I’m not a stripper, either. It” not Tina, Deena, Sheena, or Zeena. It’s Seena. S-E-E-N-A. My parents saw a film back in the 40s with an actress by the name of Seena King... Read more »
Karen Hillary Rosenstein. A child writes out her name when she first begins to label her work in school and examines that name for what it is: a newly formed public identity. My name was foreign to me. In the first place it was not the name I should have been given. It was not... Read more »
“Your name is Phyllis,” Miss K greeted me that September morning, my first day at school. Mama had reassured me that this was the public school’s kindergarten, so as far as I could make out, I was in the right place, but Miss K was awfully wrong. I am Lifsa, darling Lifseleh, named for Bubba... Read more »
My legal first name is Esther, but the actual name on my birth certificate was Estera. An anonymous immigration officer Anglicized my name when I arrived in the United States at the age of five months. I was born in Stuttgart, Germany on October 27, 1946, to Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors. My mother chose to... Read more »
When my son told me that he wanted to take on his bride’s last name, I heard myself say, “No!” How, I asked, could he simply renounce who he was, who he had been for the past 26 years? He responded by asking why Becky should. “It is not the same thing,” I said, understanding... Read more »
My father’s name is Kantrowitz. He changed it to Kaye in 1942. At the dyke bar in Portland I tell my best Jewish friend that I’m thinking about taking back my mother’s maiden name. “Kaye is a made up name,” I say, “It has no history.” Amy, historian, tells me, “Just because a history isn’t... Read more »
I am living in Rabat, Morocco, a place where I allow myself to be Rachelle instead of Rachel. It has a musical ring to it when my boyfriend and his friends speak of me: “Rachelle, the American.” This name enables me to be another person: one who spends days at the Prince’s swim club and... Read more »
I was the seventh child in my family. My parents were all out of names. Everyone who needed someone named after them had been appeased. The story goes that it was my great uncle Bill who solved the problem by suggesting that my Hebrew name be Batsheva (meaning seventh daughter) and that I be called... Read more »
My whole life—as a poet, and even before I knew that I would be a poet—I have been fascinated with names. I grew up in a small Missouri town and knew no one else with the name Maxine except a friend of my mother’s who had a nervous tic and a chiropractor who owned a... Read more »
My name usually evokes comment. “Mara? How is that spelled?” often I am asked what my name means or what language it is. “In Tibetan Buddhism, ‘Mara’ is an evil Goddess. In Arabic it means ‘women’ and is a derogatory term used by Berbers. In Hebrew it comes from the root for bitter and means... Read more »
My name is Troim, a Yiddish word that means a dream of hope, an ideal. The word is often used in Yiddish poetry. My father frequently introduced me this way: “This is my daughter Troim; she never changed her name.” He thought I would. I have never met another Troim. My father, Menke Katz, was... Read more »
I was named Sureh Henya for my mother’s sister who died of cancer just before I was born, but was called Sureh Henya only when teased. Henya rhymes with zshmmya (hand) and there were many nasty little jingles that could be made of the two. The worst was, ”Sureh Henya macht in di zshmenya” (Sureh... Read more »
As I studied Judaism in preparation for conversion, the name I’d always loved began to itch and not fit very well. Kristin, you see, is sometimes pronounced “Christian.” Even when pronounced correctly, it no longer felt right. I combed Hebrew name books in vain for the right name. At last, it came to me while... Read more »
When I married, neither my spouse to be nor I wanted to take the other person’s last name as our own, nor did we want to hyphenate, and yet we wanted a shared name. So we decided to take a new last name, and proceeded with the surprisingly difficult task of choosing our name. Eventually... Read more »
RACISM OBSCURED I felt your article on children of black and Jewish parents was very important, and that is why I was grateful to be interviewed by you for this work (“Are You Black or Are You Jewish?” Fall 1996). You raise many issues of personal, cultural and political identity I believe we must all... Read more »
Sara Duker died on Feb. 25, 1996, victim of a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem. An energetic and dedicated Jew, feminist, and environmentalist, Sara will always be remembered for her mischievous eyes, her sense of adventure, and her dedication to egalitarian, halachic Judaism. At Barnard College, where Sara and I were roommates, Sara maintained a heavy... Read more »
Just outside Mbale, Uganda’s third-largest city, a Jewish community called the Abayudaya lives secretly, hiding its traditional Jewish practice from its neighbors. Contact with other Jews is difficult, as is marrying within the faith. As Kenny Schultz, who twice visited the Abayudaya, reported for Kulanu, the women of the community’ tend to marry “out” more... Read more »
Twenty-five years ago, a Cape Town speech therapist named Helen Lieberman paid an illegal visit to the South African black township of Langa to check up on a little girl whom she had treated. Concerned for the child’s welfare, Lieberman violated the segregationist laws of apartheid to make the visit. What she found was much... Read more »
Women’s World Organization for Rights, Literature and Development—Women’s WORLD—is a small organization with an enormous goal. “In far too many countries, women who try to have a public voice are met with hatred, contempt, suppression, exile or death. Whether the agency of suppression is the state, the publishing industry, religious authority, or the family, all... Read more »
Okay. The pear. Joining us for the first time with this issue are readers who ordered the magazine because our new pear logo caught their eye in our first-ever ad in The New York Times Magazine, so we figured we ought to be explicit about its meaning. Please don’t tell me you couldn’t figure it out.... Read more »