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The Lilith Blog

May 15, 2019 by

How You Can Support Abortion Rights Today

Yesterday, Alabama’s legislature voted to criminalize abortion, making it a felony punishable by up to 99 years in jail. Last week, Georgia’s governor signed a bill to ban abortions before most people know that they’re pregnant. Ohio signed a similarly stringent ban into law last month and legislators are now trying to force people to implant ectopic pregnancies into the uterus, which is medically impossible.

And this is just what’s making headlines—Louisiana legislators are trying to adding additional onerous administrative requirements for abortion facilities while also trying to pass an abortion ban, Michigan politicians are attempting to curtail the safest methods of second trimester abortion, and in Tennessee, the governor signed a law that would make abortion a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, in the event that Roe is overturned.

Feeling dizzy yet?

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The Lilith Blog

April 30, 2019 by

In the Shadow of Notre Dame

Back in the 1970s when I was a graduate student in Paris, I started a couple of traditions for myself. Now, each time I’m in the city I spend some alone time just sitting in the left-bank’s Square René-Viviani just across from Notre Dame Cathedral, and each time I leave Paris I stand on the Petit Pont, toss a coin into the Seine, and promise to return. And return I do, time and again, for short periods and long to the city that has become my second home.

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The Lilith Blog

April 12, 2019 by

A Film About Faith… Starring Jewish Men, Men and More Men

Comparing practices across religions can provide insights into customs and beliefs, and highlight our shared humanity. I approached the film “Sacred,” recently shown on PBS, expecting to be enlightened. A feature length documentary, it’s been shown at more than 75 film festivals around the world, had a week-long run at the Rubin Museum in NYC and numerous screenings at congregations, theaters and universities.

In many ways, “Sacred” does not disappoint. A travelogue of religious practices in over 25 countries, the film is a visually rich mosaic. The diverse and pluralistic material is treated with respect and even reverence, and the overall message is solid: there are a variety of ways to approach the spiritual, that there’s no one answer and no monopoly on truth. 

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The Lilith Blog

April 11, 2019 by

Can Leviticus’ Purity Laws Help Us Understand #MeToo?

The poet Galit Hasan-Rokem wrote the following poem entitled “This Child Inside Me”: 

This child inside me
Sorts my existence into elements:
Blood and urine
Calcium and iron.
In my sleep I am a quarry
Where rare treasures are suddenly found.        

Blood and urine, calcium and iron. The fluid and elements that, in part, make up the physical constitution of a human body. This is, in part, the focus of our Torah portion earlier this month, called Parashat Tazria—which is always a confounding one for the bar or bat mitzvah student. The particular section of the Torah that we read at this time of year addresses issues of ritual purity. Some of those considerations include menstruation and childbirth. This part of the Torah is, indeed, a bar or bat mitzvah student’s worst nightmare. Every year, one or two innocent and unknowing soon-to-be 13 year old finds themselves forced to find relevant meaning in rules concerning nocturnal seminal emissions and afterbirth. Meanwhile their more fortunate classmates with simchas that land in the fall are assigned Noah’s ark and the Garden of Eden.

Leviticus builds character. 

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The Lilith Blog

March 5, 2019 by

Honoring Monica Lewinsky

We are proud to host Monica Lewinsky as the featured speaker at the annual benefit of Project Kesher, an organization founded to bring Jewish and feminist connections to women in the Former Soviet Union and beyond. On April 9 in New York City, Project Kesher will celebrate 30 years of sisterhood and honor former board chair and global women’s health activist Barbara Glickstein. Monica Lewinsky will receive Project Kesher’s Kol Isha award for her activism against cyberbullying, and we think we are the first Jewish women’s organization to honor her powerful work.

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The Lilith Blog

February 5, 2019 by

A Decalogue for Women

commandments-49012_960_720I have had a deep connection to last week’s Torah portion (Yitro, Exodus 18:1–20:23) for the past 14 years because it’s my older son’s bar mitzvah portion. Well, it is the Ten Commandments, so that connection truly began a lot longer ago. 
 
But one night, the year before his special day, we started to really delve into what these Big Ten were — and couldn’t. We were out to dinner and could rattle off five, maybe six rules, off the tops of our heads. That’s all. 
 
Since we couldn’t resort to the internet to fill in the gaps, our attention turned to other realms appealing to three guys — two of whom were preteen — that might require a set of rules, like… the Planet of the Apes. And so, the Monkey Commandments were born.
 
And, no, I don’t remember any of them…I just remember that, for a time, they were a symbolic stand-in suited to a particular group. So I thought that I would do the same for women.

The Lilith Blog

January 24, 2019 by

Why Anti-Semitism on the Left Hurts Me More

Someone asked me incredulously if the anti-semitism on the left really upset me more/made me feel the need for a Jewish state more than the Pittsburgh. (And then went on to describe the evils of Israel.) Oh yes, yes, the anti-semitism on the left does hurt and scare me more. Not that it’s worse. Just in terms of how I feel able to function in the world, it is much more impactful.

Trump-types’ hatred of me means there are people I do not identify with who don’t want me. But when the people who are my refuge, who I want to make a home with me (meaning a home in the world), who I long to celebrate for and with when they succeed–when these people see me, Israel, Jews (except their approved Jews, maybe, relishing this potential division from each other?) as uniquely evil and worthy of being pointed out as so, Haman-style—whether we are relevant or not to the issue at hand—I fear that I have no home in the world at large. 

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The Lilith Blog

January 4, 2019 by

It’s Not Prom Queen. It’s President.

 It is not about running for prom queen, it is about running for president,” political strategist Jess McIntosh recently had to say on CNN. Why? A Politico article published a couple days ago−just as the first woman presidential candidate of 2019 was announcing her exploratory committee−asking the question: but is she likeable?! The piece likened Elizabeth Warren’s potential “likeability” challenges as a woman seeking power in public to the one Hillary Clinton supposedly faced that allegedly caused her defeat.

(But, oops, and oh-by-the-way, Clinton wasn’t defeated. She won almost three million more votes than President Trump did. Tens of millions of American men and women liked her quite well enough.)

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The Lilith Blog

December 20, 2018 by

An (Almost) Christmas Carol

 Christmas was not an important day for me. As a Jewish child, growing up in a small Screen Shot 2018-12-19 at 5.49.58 PMConnecticut town, I was certainly aware of the holiday and of its significance, but early on I knew that it was not my holiday and that my role in this season was that of onlooker. To say that I didn’t envy my friends’ excitement and anticipation every December, or that I didn’t wake up on Dec. 25 feeling somewhat empty and isolated would be untrue. But, like every other Jewish child from that era, I became something of a philosopher at an early age. That was theirs, not mine. It was a bit sad but not tragic. I would enjoy this holiday vicariously, admiring my friends’ trees and lights, and helping them play with their new toys.

At the same time, Hanukkah was not widely celebrated. Where today many parents treat Hanukkah as a Jewish substitute for Christmas, in those days, in  poor rural towns, it wasn’t directly compared to its Christian counterpart. It is a minor Jewish celebration, important in its affirmation of freedom of thought and religion, but not the occasion for massive gift-giving modern American parents have made it today.

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The Lilith Blog

December 19, 2018 by

A Teen Learns to Look Deeper at “Perfect Girls”

 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.

I have come across many girls in my life who seem to be blessed with every gift imaginable. They are kind and honest. They are beautiful and funny. They are somehow talented at anything they try their hand at and they are clever. They shine so bright, no one can hold a candle to them.

I know that these girls are just girls. I know they are struggling with a lot of the same stuff I struggle with, but even if their outer personalities are just façades, these people are the sorts of girls that society would deem “perfect.”

The one attribute I have consistently noticed in “perfect girls” is that they must be humble and quiet. Every “perfect girl” I have ever met has been so humble, that they turn a compliment into self-deprecation.

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