Winter 2008-2009

Daughters on mothers: the story that never goes away. The Sh’ma, Judaism's most famous prayer, radically rewritten for women. When a man you love is losing his mind. Italy’s only female rabbi.

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Lilith Feature

Daughters on Mothers

The Story That Never Goes Away

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Peace is the blithe distraction


Peace is the dream you sleep for.Peace is a lily shared by two people with knives.Peace is prettier, but war has more to say. Peace may not be possible with everybody.Peace is the death of history.Peace is what the war dead don’t get to enjoy. Peace is what happens when you ask a plain girl... Read more »

The plague is the “to do” list


Just for once, I am all caught up. And this should be the mantra,The brucha, the Haggadah; Freedom from our slavery isThe tearing up of lists. Let those errands go.The list is the affliction My foremothers brought out of Egypt;Busy Jewish women, tikkun olam their schedule; Even before Moses there were tablets chiseled, headedWhat to... Read more »

Fanny in Ottoman Palestine


In 1914, she ran away from her Jewish home in Palestine with the Turkish governor, a Muslim. Turns out this forgotten foremother, a distant cousin, now fits beautifully into Alexiou’s own complex family mosaic.

Mother, I’ll Always Take Care of You


Properly, I ought to begin this account by telling when I was born. But — I am ashamed to admit it — I do not know. You see, I was only a Jewish girl, and in my day and time, in the place when I was born, female births were not recorded. With a boy,... Read more »

Left Behind


I was about to have my hair trimmed. A new young woman replaced my usual hairdresser. It would be the first time I’d had a black hairdresser. “You needn’t worry,” the young woman said. “At hairdressing school there was no black hair to learn on. Only hair like yours.” Only hair like yours. I left... Read more »



I submerged. the warm water surrounded me in a velvety- smooth embrace and penetrated my skin, softening my clenched muscles. I had been braced for the icy cold swimming pool of my childhood, the one that made me shiver and cough and choke, chlorine burning in my nostrils. But, happily, this was more like a... Read more »

“If Hitler Didn’t Kill Me, You Will”


I was aware, from a very early age, that my parents were survivors of the holocaust. My mother survived labor camps and Auschwitz, while my father miraculously lived through 14 concentration camps. Most of the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were teens, and when the war ended, they were placed in deportation camps where they... Read more »

Only One of Us Can Wear This Dress, Ma


The year was 1956. My family lived in a public housing project in Astoria, Queens, a working-class melting pot fifteen minutes and a thousand miles from Manhattan. It took all week to get ready for the Purim celebration at our shul, an event that loomed large in my seven-year-old life. That year, Purim loomed large... Read more »

Fated To Be Ahead of Her Time


My mother’s tallit rested heavy and lopsided around my shoulders, pink fringes tickling my knees. I was standing before the congregation, reading from the Torah for the first time in 14 years. It was the 10th anniversary of Mom’s yahrtzeit; she had died from cancer at 61, when I was 26. I was ill-at-ease in... Read more »

What Beauty Does


When her husband suffers a debilitating brain injury, Shulman’s world, and her love, have to bend.

The Shekhinah Sh’ma: Six Little Words to Shake the World


The Sh’ma, Judaism’s most famous prayer, radically rewritten for women.

Sima’s Undergarments for Women


Sima would say, afterwards, that she didn’t come to the bra business — it came to her. “You need to keep yourself busy,” Connie told her. They’d run into each other outside the green grocer, where Sima had responded to her suggestion that they get a manicure together with an indifferent shrug. “I’ve been thinking... Read more »

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