The Lilith Blog

August 20, 2018 by

#MeToo, The Supreme Court, and Immigration Cruelty: Connected by Misogyny

At this summer’s ESPY, Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly, awards, the 141 survivors of sexual abuse by Dr. Larry Nassar (one of them was Olympian Aly Raisman) received a standing ovation. These women athletes had suffered for decades in silence, shamed into believing that they were at fault, or that what the doctor was doing was all right. They weren’t, and it wasn’t.

As the future of Roe v. Wade seems to waver, I thought about how, in this day and age, these young women weren’t even sure they had the right to determine when and by whom they could be touched. Only in the months since #MeToo did that change.

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The Lilith Blog

August 17, 2018 by

Edna Ferber and Fannie Hurst: Blockbuster Jewish Novelists of Another Time

In their heyday during the 1920s and 1930s, Edna Ferber and Fannie Hurst enjoyed tremendous popularity but fell into relative obscurity soon after their deaths in 1968. With a decidedly Jewish sensibility, both of these women tell stories to inspire compassion and empathy about social issues–from body image to opioid abuse, from women’s roles to racism and the treatment of immigrants–startlingly relevant today.

Ferber and Hurst were very different kinds of writers, but their lives overlapped in surprising ways. Both were born in 1885 and grew up in assimilated Jewish families in the American Midwest. Both moved to Manhattan in their twenties to pursue their writing careers. Each was one of two daughters; ironically––or oddly, given their other coincidental pairings––Ferber’s older sister was named Fannie and Hurst’s little sister, who died as a child, was named Edna. Ferber didn’t marry and Hurst and her husband famously maintained separate residences throughout their marriage, giving rise to the expression “a Fannie Hurst marriage.” Neither had children. Both published dozens of well-received novels, short stories, memoirs, plays, and magazine articles that brought important social and cultural issues to the attention of their readers. But in light of today’s excellent fiction by American Jewish women that serves a similar purpose, why am I convinced that people will continue to enjoy and identify with their narratives?

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The Lilith Blog

August 15, 2018 by

The Book That Teaches Children About a Jewish Prima Ballerina

An Unlikely Ballerina

Young Lily Marks loves to stand on her tiptoes. When her parents notice there’s weakness in her legs, her doctor suggests dancing lessons to strengthen them, and Lily falls in love with ballet. But can this fragile girl ever become a serious dancer? When the famous ballerina Anna Pavlova comes to town, Lily just has to meet her. Maybe Pavlova—small, delicate, and Jewish like Lily—holds the key to Lily’s future. Fiction Editor (and lifelong balletomane) Yona Zeldis McDonough talks to author Krystyna Poray Goddu about her informative and charming new picture book.

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The Lilith Blog

August 10, 2018 by

Five Quotes That Will Increase Your Chutzpah

From the JAP to zaftig to the belle juive, there are no end of Jewish stereotypes. Chutzpadik is probably one of the least painful, and incidentally one of the most gender-neutral. Here are 5 quotes from Jewish women, words that embody chutzpah in its most inspiring and hopeful forms.

“I’ve been described as a tough and noisy woman, a prize fighter, a man-hater, you name it. They call me Battling Bella, Mother Courage, and a Jewish mother with more complaints than Portnoy. There are those who say I’m impatient, impetuous, uppity, rude, profane, brash, and overbearing. Whether I’m any of those things, or all of them, you can decide for yourself. But whatever I am —and this ought to be made very clear—I am a very serious woman.” – Bella Abzug 

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The Lilith Blog

August 8, 2018 by

Five Things You Can Do Right Now for Abortion Rights

Supreme CourtIn the 45 years since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, feminists have worried that abortion rights are gradually being eroded as some states passed laws limiting aspects of this medical procedure. After the announcement of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, the first thought in the minds of many is the future of hard-won reproductive rights. Now, the right to determine one’s own reproductive future, once guaranteed by Roe, may hang by a thread.

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The Lilith Blog

August 7, 2018 by

When an Accused Sexual Harasser is an Academic Superstar

The news report that Steven M. Cohen, a luminary in Jewish sociology, is an alleged serial sexual harasser sickened me. New York Jewish Week broke this story that brought the #metoo movement to the heart of Jewish Studies. Cohen is currently a professor at Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and has just voluntarily resigned his position as the director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at Stanford University; his work on contemporary Jews is widely known and supported not only by prestigious academic institutions but also by well-regarded Jewish communal networks.

Cohen’s sexual misconduct has apparently been part of his professional modus operandi for decades. He has not denied the multiple charges against him, which include touching women’s breasts in public, propositioning mentees for sex, and using sociological research as a screen for homophobic conduct.

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The Lilith Blog

August 2, 2018 by

What the Lilith Staff is Reading Now

Welcome to another installment of this occasional recurring feature in which Lilith staffers reveal what books are on our nightstands, our e-readers and tucked in our bags for the commute. Share your own summer reads in the comments!

Kira Yates, Intern:

This summer I’ve decided to read two books at once: The Guide for the Perplexed by the Rambam himself, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. Though one was written in 1190 Spain and the other in 1940s Georgia, the theological treatise and the novel explore God and the actions of human kind. In his investigation of Jewish philosophy, ben Maimon seeks to prove that God does not have a body–an assertion that became a scholarly sensation across Europe. McCullers, on the other hand, tells the story of four struggling people in a small Georgia town, a reminder of what it feels like to be forgotten and in search of human connection. Published 750 years apart, these books present parallels about the human need for understanding and unity with something greater than the self. 

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August 1, 2018 by

A Wordless Bar Mitzvah That Was Far From Silent

Dorrit_photo

This article was originally published on Jewish Women, Amplified, the blog of the Jewish Women’s Archive, and was written as part of the Rising Voices Fellowship.

Over the years, I’ve been to countless bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies. While each one has been unique to the specific teen being honored, all of the services have catered to the typical Jewish kid: one who can read English and some Hebrew, memorize prayers, and stand at the bimah and speak about his or her Jewish education and life experiences. In February, I had the honor of being part of a bar mitzvah that was unlike any of the others I had previously attended. My family friend Max became a bar mitzvah without speaking a single word.

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The Lilith Blog

August 1, 2018 by

More Summer Page-Turners and Pleasure Reads

The world is in a pretty dark spot right now, and books–whether heartbreaking or quirky or incandescent—are a rare opportunity to step away from the chaos and enlighten yourself at the same time. So we at Lilith think it’s okay—nay, great—to lose yourself in a summer story that gives you pleasure while you turn its pages. 

So in addition to Chanel Dubofksy’s picks from last week, here are a few more 2018 books, ranging from slight to serious, that should give Jewish feminist readers (and indeed, all readers) something to curl up with as the summer hits its sultry stride.

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The Lilith Blog

July 31, 2018 by

I Couldn’t Divorce My Mother-in-Law

3_elephants_topiaryThe Lilith blog presents original short fiction: “The Elephant in the Bush” by Penny Jackson


 “Look,” my mother-in-law tells me. “There’s an elephant in the bushes.”

I turn to look where she is pointing. We are sitting on white deck chairs in a very suburban backyard in New Jersey.

“Do you see it?” She presses my hand. My mother-in-law, whose name is Ida, starts bobbing her head in the agitated way I know now so well.

“Of course,” I tell her, taking off my sunglasses and peering at the shrubbery.

“How funny.  Not only an elephant. But a baby elephant!”

Ida is in stage five of Alzheimer’s disease. She is either a late five or early six. I’ve read the books her daughter has loaned me. The 36-Hour Day is the most popular book that is passed around from family member to family member. 

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