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The Lilith Blog

The Lilith Blog

March 27, 2020 by

Between Purim and Passover, a Plague

Where anxiety and fear keep us unsettled, it is important to try to keep our emotional and spiritual equanimity.

It has not escaped my attention that the pandemic is happening between Purim and Passover. Purim, like Yom Kippur, is when we read a story about chance. The tables get turned for the better —that the Jews are saved not destroyed
We acknowledge that fate can change at any given moment and we pray for it turns in our favor… 

We are also headed into Passover where it took ten plagues to get us out of Egypt. Yes, people died with each plague and we learn that we don’t sing Hallel because the Egyptians drowned in the Red sea and their lives also belong to the Holy One. Yet that story of liberation has fueled many a tradition and given many hope.

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The Lilith Blog

March 27, 2020 by

In Italy, Our Lockdown Continues

thumb_IMG_3392_1024MILAN, March 2020—Today the news announced that the Carabinieri, the Italian military police, would be patrolling the streets and giving fines to anyone who didn’t have an essential reason to be out.

They also announced that grocery stores, the only businesses still open besides pharmacies, would be limiting their hours, so I decided that I should go out and get more food while I still could. Since we don’t have a car, I asked my teenage daughter to come so that she could help me carry everything back. She gladly accepted, since the three weeks of lockdown in a 390 square-foot apartment have proven to be quite a strain on our family dynamics. With our masks in hand, we left our apartment and walked onto the eerily empty street. It was a glorious spring day in Milan, trees full of colorful blossoms, a gentle breeze, birds chirping, and – just for a moment – everything felt normal.

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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 26, 2020 by

Warmth from an Afghan Blanket

Coronavirus has suddenly changed our lives, so quickly and in ways so profound that we are just beginning to grasp how. The thousands of mundane acts that we do every day—grabbing the overhead bar on the subway, pushing a button in an elevator, sitting down at a conference table with work colleagues—are now possible sources of contagion. So are the human connections our souls need and crave. Kissing our grandchildren or hugging a friend are acts now fraught with danger. We must keep our distance from everyone and everything, we are now told. Otherwise, we may catch the illness, and get horribly sick. Or die. Yes, die.  

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The Lilith Blog

March 24, 2020 by

Real Life Mysteries: A Lost Voice and Communication With the Dead

Everyone loves a great mystery on the page, but what about in real life? Victoria Zackheim decided to ask a group of writers exactly that question and she collects their answers in the new volume, Private Investigations: Mystery Writers on the Secrets, Wonders and Riddles in Their Lives (Seal Press). Caroline Leavitt’s mystery began with her losing her voice, and the endless medical quest she embarked on to find out why. Hallie Ephron was prompted to write about a friend’s belief that she could communicate with her dead brother. Both of these writers talk to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about how their essays were informed by their experience as Jewish women.

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The Lilith Blog

March 23, 2020 by

Even in Isolation, Don’t Forget to Say Goodnight

On my morning commute to my psychotherapy practice, I overhear two young women on the F train. ”What if I get sick, will you help me with the kids?” The other says, “We’re all on our own with this.” The first drops her head, “Right, yes. We are on our own.” 

Medical containment of COVID-19, defined by social distancing and voluntary quarantines, is isolation from others who may be a threat to your existence.  

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The Lilith Blog

March 16, 2020 by

Notes from a Pandemic: On Chains of Isolation, and Transmission

I’m alone in my apartment, trying to understand what a city is. The internet assures me only that there is no clear answer—even the United Nations has three definitions for what constitutes a city. I’m fixating on population size, but even that’s slippery. An “urban area” can apparently be distinguished from a “metropolitan area,” but somehow the largest “urban area” in the United States is called the “New York metropolitan area” (wait, what?) which has recently been more broadly identified as a “metropolitan statistical area,” throughout which one large urban center spreads its web but the whole of which is not legally incorporated as a city. I look at the satellite image of a bright core and then yellow sparks clustered along the Atlantic Ocean, spreading. My head aches; all I see is a never-ending chain.

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The Lilith Blog

March 16, 2020 by

The Fraught and Frayed Bonds of Sisterhood

The fraught, frayed bonds of sisterhood is a subject beautifully explored by Lynda Cohen Loigman in The Wartime Sisters (St. Martin’s Press) a WWII-era novel that probes the connection between Millie—beautiful, impractical—and Ruth, pragmatic yet desperate to protect the life she’s carved out for herself.

Loigman talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about how she found her way to their story and where it took her.  

Yona Zeldis McDonough: What attracted you to the subject of the Springfield Armory and how did you go about doing your research?

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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 14, 2020 by

Rachel Cowan’s Last Year– ‘Dying Doesn’t Feel Like What I’m Doing’

None of us has died. No matter how close we’ve been to those who have died, it wasn’t us. Death is still a second-hand experience until you’re the one.  

So when a loving friend and filmmaker recorded the last 15 months in the life of mindfulness teacher and rabbi Rachel Cowan, I wanted to learn what wisdom came to her with a diagnosis of brain cancer. 

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