Lilith FeatureWhat Was a Nice Jewish Girl Like Me Doing in a Man’s Body?
A transgender woman remembers a painful search.
A transgender woman remembers a painful search.
When an infant dies at a Chinese orphanage, an American volunteer manages to commemorate the little life Jewishly
Your indispensable guideYour indispensable guide
Joining the growing roster of historical fiction that aspires to give voice to Jewish women of eras past, The Fruit of Her Hands: The Story of Shira of Ashkenaz a debut novel by Michelle Cameron (Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster, $25), narrates the life of the imagined spouse of renowned 13th century authority Rabbi Meir ben... Read more »
In Still Jewish: A History of Women and Intermarriage in America (New York University Press, $39), Keren McGinity argues that while for the most part American Jewish women married to non- Jewish men have always maintained some connections to the Jewish community, since the 1960s intermarried women have remained actively Jewish at ever-increasing levels. In... Read more »
Ayala Fader’s Mitzvah Girls: Bringing Up the Next Generation of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn (Princeton University Press, $22.95) reveals how through everyday talk Hasidic women teach their daughters to discipline their bodies and their minds to serve God. Hasidic girls want to be “with it” but not “modern.” This unique formulation allows them to be... Read more »
In 1965, I took my teen-aged daughter on a special train to Montgomery, Alabama to meet the civil rights workers who were marching from Selma. We and the other passengers (mostly women) lustily sang “We Shall Overcome,” and union songs: “Which Side are You On,” and “Joe Hill.” The train trip home to D.C. was... Read more »
Good For The Jews (University of Michigan Press, $24) by Debra Spark affords a rare, if fictional, glimpse into the lives of Jews in the non-metropolitan Midwest during the era of George W. Bush’s presidency. Ellen Hirschorn, a beautiful and radiant woman in her twenties, is allegedly the protagonist of the story. In fact, the... Read more »
Rebecca Wolff, a Jewish-American poet and editor of Fence Magazine, is at the top of her game in her third book of poems, The King (W.W. Norton, $24.95), an engrossing glimpse into the mind of a new mother faced with postpartum depression. Wolff ’s poems are spare, often packed into short, jagged lines in which... Read more »
Traditional Judaism regards a menstruating woman as ritually impure and therefore sexually impermissible to her husband. By immersing in the purifying waters of the mikveh (ritual bath) seven days after her menstrual flow ceases, she returns to a state of ritual purity. Classic rabbinic thought views menstruation, niddah, as representing the fallen state of human... Read more »
Humans have been concealing parts of their bodies ever since they realized they were naked. What is concealed and what revealed varies, however, and in The Veil (University of California, $21.95), Jennifer Heath collects feminist writing about coverings across cultures. The veil has become a symbol of Islam in our century, and is both reviled... Read more »
How did American Jews help their persecuted coreligionists in Europe during the Holocaust? Cecilia Razovsky and the American-Jewish Women’s Rescue Operations in the Second World War by Bat-Ami Zucker (Vallentine Mitchell, $79.95), challenges the conventional scholarly opinion that they did nothing, or too little. Zucker describes in detail the substantial efforts to rescue European Jews... Read more »
For hundreds of years, Jews in all parts of the world have made their living through the clothing trades, from toiling in little shmata businesses to owning huge department stores such as Macy’s and Abraham & Strauss. Two recent books explore this history, each from a very different angle. Broken Threads: The Destruction of the... Read more »
Romantic upheaval and family drama attain richer focus when seen through the eyes of newfound religious piety. Gone to the Dogs by Mary Guterson (St. Martin’s Press, $13.99) and You or Someone Like You by Chandler Burr (Ecco/HarperCollins, $25.99) depict heroines struggling to make sense of their love and family lives, while newly observant relatives... Read more »
The author’s unconventional wedding plans get less conventional as she lets her mother, fighting breast cancer, take over the planning.
No one sees him come in. Shabbat candles flicker on the table. The braid of challah is almost eaten. Remnants of fruit salad lie in plates, and glasses are empty. Conversation also flickers, sporadic, yet comfortable. It is late. Newly divorced, I am wondering whether I can remake myself as an observant Jew. Most of... Read more »
A young woman recounts a painful struggle, through adolescence and young adulthood, which is only relieved through disordered eating and then 103 cuts.
Two kosher-keeping Jews walk into a restaurant… and the true challenges of breaking bread with a partner who has different food rules become painfully apparent.
It wasn’t easy for Yeshiva University to accept that a male professor to whom it had recently given tenure was returning to work as a female professor. Transsexual transition is problematic for most employers, and Yeshiva’s status as Orthodox Judaism’s flagship educational institution made my transition even more difficult. At first, I was placed on... Read more »
The Canadian-born feminist psychologist - who brought sex therapy to Israel - has been transforming things there since 1949.
On a typical hot and muggy October evening, even the mother of all traffic snarls didn’t deter 22 mainly estrogen- depleted, I.Q.-laden Houston women from participating in a Lilith salon focusing on special needs in the Jewish community. Hosted by Julia Wolf Mazow, the salon conversation was led by Sandra Block and Joan Alexander; each... Read more »
This is just one of several verses of a student-composed rap song and video making the rounds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and on the Internet, where by mid-December it had attracted more than 10,000 listeners. It’s a snide hit on out-of-state students from either coast, but in addition to the term’s built-in xenophobia... Read more »
Dissolving a Jewish marriage can be a fraught experience, not only because of the highly charged emotions involved, but also because of the particular strictures a Jewish divorce entails. Now there are women qualified to see you through the process. Rabbi Chana Thompson Shor and Rabbi Karen Reiss Medwed are the first two women ever... Read more »
This was the headline of a JTA dispatch on November 18, 2009. “Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the Western Wall rabbi, called the group’s actions Wednesday ‘an act of provocation that seeks to turn the Western Wall into disputed territory’,” the article reported. A medical student from Beersheba was arrested in what is apparently the very first... Read more »
Five years ago Challah for Hunger started as a student service in Claremont Colleges in California. Students Eli Winkelman and Melinda Koster combined their respective interests in baking and Darfur activism to provide a service that teaches student to bake challah and buy it fresh on campus, and in turn provides money for American Jewish... Read more »
When she was first teaching, Sara Horowitz dodged her students’ questions about gender and the Holocaust. “This isn’t the place to push your women’s studies agendas,” the Director of the Centre for Jewish Studies at York University in Toronto recalls responding. Eventually, her students’ questions inspired her to rethink a deeply embedded notion within Holocaust... Read more »
Twenty-four years after the Jewish Theological Seminary finally ordained a woman Conservative Rabbi, that woman — Amy Eilberg — and 79 other women rabbis from all over the United States were back at the seminary in New York City for “Leadership Presence: Women’s Ways in the Rabbinate.” The November conference, sponsored by the Rabbinical Assembly,... Read more »
The clientele for my culinary tours in the Galilee has, until recently, been exclusively visitors from overseas. Even the most intrepid tourist, I understood, would never be able to find the region’s reclusive goat cheese makers, passionate vintners and edible wild plant gatherers I’ve spent years seeking out. Furthermore, I generally eschew restaurant visits, preferring... Read more »
Following the hit Israeli TV show “In Treatment” (B’Tipul), a new program is garnering avid fans in Israel. In Mehubarot (“Connected”), five women ages 16 though 42 were each given a video camera and agreed to document their personal lives by shooting at least an hour a day. The television series began daily broadcasts of... Read more »
Just as we were concluding this issue of Lilith, I was stunned to see end-of-decade media items bursting upon us with bizarre and constricting images of women, and women’s bodies — some focusing explicitly on Jewish women. What’s driving this? Is it the recession? Does economic anxiety cause people to unleash such thoughts? In its... Read more »