Lines of Communication

Dear LILITH:
As Jewish women with a deep commitment to Jewish-Christian dialogue, we read with interest your articles in Issue #7 by Judith Plaskow and Annette Daum. As Jews, we should be particularly aware of the insiduous nature of defamation of groups and individuals. Yet, the two articles and the interview that followed tended to lump together a group of diverse individuals i.e., Christians writing about women and Judaism, in a damaging way. The authors do make a distinction between “Christian feminist scholars doing exciting research” and “the conservative group who used this ‘Jesus is a feminist’ argument.” The latter group is then branded by LILITH’S interviewer as a “bunch of anti-Semites.” Since the “Jesus was a feminist” argument had been correctly identified earlier in the article with the name of Leonard Swidler, this discussion leads to an implicit, yet preposterous allegation. Dr. Swidler is the editor of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, the veteran of decades of pioneering work in Jewish-Christian relations, and (most recently) the moving force in changing anti-semitic aspects of the Oberammergau Passion Play. Clearly, he does not belong in the “bunch,” using any common understanding of the term “antisemite.” While at the beginning of the article Plaskow distinguished between lay popularization which is anti-semitic and “women scholars,” this distinction does not—alas!—help Leonard Swidler. In fact, it only perpetuates this unfortunate and confused treatment of the work of a scholar of impeccable motivation.

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