Author Archives: Eleanor J. Bader

The Lilith Blog

December 23, 2020 by

Art and Aid: an Interview with Margot Spindelman

A sample box from the BoX Project

When crises hit — whether fire, flood, or global pandemic — righteous people mobilize by bringing food, water, clothing, medical care and emotional support to those in need. These mutual aid networks often do what governments do not: offer concrete help to communities long ignored by public agencies.

Not surprisingly, COVID has led to a surge in such networks, with individuals in every part of the country phoning isolated seniors, feeding the hungry, tutoring kids and helping society’s most vulnerable populations with everyday chores.

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The Lilith Blog

September 25, 2020 by

Collage Artist Sally Edelstein: “My Politics is My Art.”


Collage-maker Sally Edelstein calls herself a “visual archeologist,” digging deep into American mythology. But she does more than this. Alongside the creation of innumerable pieces of wall art that juxtapose the collision between past and present, her blog, envisioningtheamericandream.com, probes the ways that advertising and media steer our perceptions of race, class, and gender and how they can either expand or limit what we imagine for ourselves and our lives. Humor is abundant. So are pointed critiques of the Trump administration. There is also a focus on environmental calamity: Edelstein’s work chronicles the transition from World War II shortages, when “Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, Or do without” segued into rampant consumerism at the end of the war and sent Rosie and her riveting sisters back to the roost. She spoke to Lilith’s Eleanor J. Bader about her art, writing, and political rage from her Long Island home in mid-September.

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The Lilith Blog

September 2, 2020 by

“For Me, Art Has Always Been a Protest”

IMG_0140The block-long mural is called the Wall of Justice and it began to take shape on Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue in Gowanus within days of the police shooting of George Floyd. (more…)

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The Lilith Blog

August 13, 2020 by

A History Professor and her Homeschool Co-Op

Four months ago, history professor Karen Miller thought she’d be spending her sabbatical living and working in Manila as a Fulbright scholar. That, of course, was before the coronavirus became an international pandemic and upended her plans, forcing her to make several major decisions, including whether to leave the Philippines and return to her home in Brooklyn, New York.

Miller ultimately did return—on March 14th. Since then, she and a group of friends have created Homeschoolcoop2020.com, a free, online educational program for children and their caretakers. As of mid-August, the Coop has offered hundreds of diverse classes, some of them single sessions and others ongoing. To date, the range has included yoga, basic sewing, beginning Latin for high school students, intro to chess, human sexuality for middle schoolers, the history of the Panama Canal, drawing, French, and poetry—both writing and appreciating.

Miller recently spoke to Lilith’s Eleanor J. Bader about the Coop’s formation and exponential growth.  

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The Lilith Blog

March 26, 2020 by

Feeding People in Virus-Stricken New York

It’s Monday morning, the start of the second week of New York City’s attempt to contain the coronavirus, and Alexander Rapaport, founder and Executive Director of MASBIA, (MASBIA.org) New York City’s only kosher food pantry and feeding program, is gearing up for an exceptionally busy week.

“Shortly after Hurricane Sandy, City Councilmember Brad Lander said—and I’m paraphrasing—that in times of crisis some people will fall apart while others will be brave and help out,” Rapaport begins. “We are trying to be the helpers in this time of COVID-19. In the face of all odds, we are plowing ahead. But it’s not easy.”

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The Lilith Blog

March 15, 2020 by

A Jewish Journey to Montgomery

Between 1877 and 1950, approximately 4400 African American women and men were lynched in the United States. Billie Holiday sang of them, “strange fruit hanging from the sycamore tree,” in Abel Meeropol’s iconic 1939 song, but it was not until 2018 that civil rights activist and attorney Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative raised enough money to open the commemorative Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. 

Both sites are intended to acknowledge the racism at the heart of America’s story and address the many ways that the heritage of bigotry continues to fester and poison the body politic.

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The Lilith Blog

March 4, 2020 by

The New Organization Uniting Allies to Combat Racism

When the National Anti-Racism Alliance (NARA) began to come together in Spring 2019, its purpose was explicit: “a nonviolent community of people who think racism is out of control in this country and who are publicly willing to identify themselves as anti-racist fighters.”

NARA’s founder, Mark Naison—an African American Studies and History professor at Fordham University—welcomed any-and-all but emphasized that “the NARA label is particularly important for anti-racist whites to display, as it lets our friends of color know that they can count on us in a crisis to stand with them.”

Rhode Island activist Nomi Hurwitz is one of NARA’s moderators, facilitating a largely-online discussion—on Facebook—between members who share information, debate strategy and tactics, and address the many ways that racial bias poisons our lives.

She and Eleanor J. Bader spoke by phone in mid-February.

Eleanor J. Bader: What drew you to NARA?

Nomi Hurwitz: I have known Mark Naison for a number of years. I met him through friends on Facebook and have benefited from reading his work. When I heard that he had started NARA, I wanted to join.

I’ve been fighting against racism for a long time. I started at 18. Now, more than 30 years later, I want to learn more about how to undo it, how to confront it when I see someone being harmed or hear a derogatory comment.

In Providence, where I live, I’ve heard white people say things that are disrespectful to African American or Latinx people, things like ‘They only have their positions because of affirmative action.’ I’ve heard white people blame their lack of success—that they can’t get published, for example—on the fact that they’re white. These comments are racist. And they can be lethal. Twenty years ago, Providence off-duty police officer, Cornell Young, Jr., an African American, was shot and killed by two white officers who did not recognize him in plainclothes when he attempted to intervene and stop a crime that was then in progress.

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The Lilith Blog

January 30, 2020 by

The Compulsive Photographer of The Unnoticed: An Interview with Lori Azim

Azim

When Lori Azim (Instagram: @Cheeseburger_earmuffs) was growing up in Kansas, her father–a professional photographer who took portraits of people like jazz great Duke Ellington and President Harry Truman—made it clear that he did not want his daughter to make camera work her profession.

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The Lilith Blog

January 7, 2020 by

How Women Can Get Over Our Fear of Asking for Money

“People will go to jail for things they believe in, but they’re often afraid to ask someone for money,” Marjorie Fine says. This is why she travels the country, teaching grassroots, social justice activists the ins-and-outs of raising money from both foundations and individual donors. For women in particular, asking for money and raising it can provide unique challenges, making Fine’s expertise particularly useful.

Fine learned her craft as a development staffer at a host of organizations: The National Council of Jewish Women, The North Star Fund, the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, The Center for Community Change, and the now-defunct Reproductive Rights National Network.

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The Lilith Blog

December 27, 2019 by

After Loss, a Devotion to Those Afflicted by AIDS

Not long after nurse and public health activist Elena Schwolsky’s husband, Clarence Fitch, died of AIDS in 1990, she left her job at a Newark, New Jersey, pediatric AIDS clinic, enrolled in graduate school, and went to Cuba to study the island’s AIDS treatment protocols and meet people living with the virus. The result of her six-month stay is the recently released Waking in Havana: A Memoir of AIDS and Healing in Cuba (She Writes Press).

Both deeply personal and deeply political, the book is a reflection on the challenges of living with HIV/AIDS and what it means to deliver humane medical care. The impact of the US embargo on Cuba and the collapse of the Soviet Union are part of the story, but Schwolsky’s focus never wavers from the individuals who are working to eradicate the disease. Likewise, people living with the virus are front-and-center in her moving, and often surprising, account.

Schwolsky sat down with Eleanor J. Bader in mid-December to discuss Waking in Havana, her ongoing AIDS work in Cuba, and the pervasive and persistent misconceptions about the island that continue to be promulgated.

Eleanor J. Bader: After working in a pediatric AIDS clinic and losing your husband to the virus, what made you want to do a deep dive into Cuba’s AIDS crisis?  

Elena Schwolsky: I did ask myself if I really wanted to put myself in a Cuban sanitorium, where every resident had the virus and would likely get sicker and sicker. But Clarence had been on the frontlines and it somehow felt comforting to share in this work. It seemed like an important battle. I also think that I had survivor’s guilt.  The universe had given me a pass and I felt committed to using my life in a way that had meaning.  It gave me an identity, and the camaraderie in the AIDS service community had an urgency that bound us together. Plus, I was curious and wanted to see how the epidemic was handled in a different place.

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