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Winter 2013-2014

The politics of paradox—finding Jewish meaning in unexpected places: a white, middle-class mom turned civil rights pioneer, a bacon sandwich, and a dirndl dress.

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In This Issue

Lilith Feature


Lilith Feature

The Politics of Paradox

Lilith Feature

Should a Jewish Girl Wear a Dirndl? (And Other Questions About Jews And Tracht)

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The Idioms of Jewish Dress: Buttons, Wigs & Gartels


In the 17th century, European authorities initiated the slow repeal of mandatory Jewish dress codes. Vienna annulled its regulations in 1624, followed by Mannheim (1691), Austria (1781), Rome (1798), Prussia (1812), and elsewhere. For the first time in five centuries, Jews could legally dress like everybody else. Especially after the French Revolution, ideals such as... Read more »

Even in Dreams, She Leaves Me Every Time


I thought I’d found a clever way around this ending, and yet we’re barreling toward the moment that always leaves me smeared and choking on my pillow. 

Wednesdays in Mississippi


Polly Cowan worked to bring interracial teams of glove- and hat-wearing middle-class Northern women to Mississippi every Wednesday during Freedom Summer. Polly’s daughter figures out what drove her mother’s work.

How Not to Trust


A resilient girl foils assault, thanks to the awkward lessons learned in her own unreliable family.

Four Photographs of Rukhl


The author would never have been born if the woman in these pictures had survived. Read Isaacs’s homage to her father’s first wife. 

BLT Judaism


Bacon? One woman creates her own Jewish tradition out of the most untraditional food of all.

Mrs. Akiva Speaks


The life of Rabbi Akiva’s wife, told in her own words, topped the fiction charts in Israel. Find out why.

The Woman Who Brought Smut Up from the Gutter


Pioneering anti-obscenity lawyer Harriet Pilpel (Columbia Law ’36) understood
that both birth control and Ulysses were banned for offending “gentlemen of the upper middle class.”

My Grandfather Changes His Last Name


At the Grand Canyon Red Rock Motel he signs the register. The shiny Buick out front my grandmother holding the picnic basket boiled chicken, she glances at the paper, the familiar handwriting, the blue ink. “Mr. and Mrs. Taylor! Am I some floozie? You have to write a different name? Taylor?” She tells the clerk,... Read more »



Not the aspirate in achoo, transliterated CH like a faux ami tricks the American eye. Worn fingernail-sized for luck where a neighbor dangles the cross, this letter coughs up the Fiddler cliché with a sound of choking on life, chai, and my great-grandfather’s name. Renamed Hyman by some Port of Baltimore official with a sense... Read more »

Always a Desert


Wherever I go, it’s always a desert. I’m always thirsty. I don’t know if I have enough in my hump. It’s satiation that I long for. It’s the possibility to stop that I long for. It’s the urge to go somewhere that I’d give up. I walk on not knowing if I can stop, even... Read more »

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