The Lilith Blog

The Lilith Blog

August 30, 2018 by

The Confederate Statue That Haunted My Campus Is Gone. I’m Glad.

400px-MJK49377_Silent_SamLast week, Silent Sam–one of the most visible Confederate monuments in the South–came off its pedestal. It was yanked into the dirt by protestors, finally at the mercy of the community that had suffered under Sam’s gaze for a little over a hundred years. The last video clips and photos of the evening showed a crew hauling the statue into a dump truck and driving off under the cover of darkness, leaving behind the ropes used to tear the metal loose.

I can’t remember the first time I saw Sam. It must have been on a campus tour, though I was almost certainly distracted at the time by my overwhelming fear of graduating from high school and becoming a college student. But I do remember that on my first day at Carolina, up bright and early for a lecture in a course I would later drop, I passed by the statue, the base sprayed with vomit from drunken revelers celebrating the beginning of the semester. Tourists were posing in front of it anyway.

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The Lilith Blog

August 30, 2018 by

A Treasure Trove of Fiery Jewish Labor Activists You May Not Have Heard Of

Rose Schneiderman

Rose Schneiderman

The directory of Jewish female labor activists is endless, from the better-known to the nearly invisible.

Many of these women are unknown outside of academic circles, their letters and speeches languishing in dusty academic archives. Ahead of this Labor Day, here is a list of Jewish female labor activists you never knew, or never knew were Jewish, or never knew said that, or never knew did that.

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The Lilith Blog

August 29, 2018 by

Four Labor Reforms Feminists Should Be Fighting For This Year

In the US, Labor Day is generally just seen as a day off work (for the lucky ones!) reserved for cookouts and to say goodbye to summer.

But for women and caregivers of all genders, our labor is never-ending, and rarely appreciated. Outside of the home, women make less than men—for the same work— while women of color make even less than white women. Inside the home and even at work, our work is invisible, unpaid, and often thankless.

nevertheless she persisted ShiraThat’s why this Labor Day we’re going to highlight four ideas and policies that would improve the lives of working women across the country. All of these are completely doable, by the way–if we just have the imagination and courage to fight for them.

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The Lilith Blog

August 28, 2018 by

The Ultra-Nationalist Polish Trolls—and Me

twitter“Grab attention on social media,” authors are constantly advised – especially if, like me, they are relative unknowns whose books have been published by small presses and they are expected to do pretty much all the marketing themselves.

Become a go-to part of the conversation on specific topics related to your book.Get in the conversation. Say something provocative. Get reTweeted.

After my debut novel “The Heirs” was published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press this spring, I dutifully put aside writing my next Great American Novel in order to jump full-throttle into PR outreach. Because “The Heirs” is about two Polish-American families in New Jersey – one Jewish, one Catholic – coming to terms with their post-Holocaust relationship, I particularly tried to Tweet on topics involving Poland, Judaism, and World War Two.

Thus, when I went to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City, to see an exhibit of photos from the Lodz ghetto in Poland, I Tweeted: … It’s like seeing what my great-grandmother saw when she was walled in there. (Oops is it now illegal in Poland to say that?) 

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The Lilith Blog

August 28, 2018 by

The Radical Potential of Fresh Food — and Why It Can Be So Hard to Come By

FB0409E5-5CE9-4680-8777-D5E3FEB95A1AAsk Julia Koprak, Senior Associate at The Food Trust, an organization dedicated to ensuring that US residents have access to affordable, nutritious food, about the most surprising aspect of her work, and her answer is immediate. “People assume that folks need to take personal responsibility and eat healthy meals,” she says. Missing, she continues, is recognition of the fact that many US residents live in areas where grocery stores are few-and-far-between and farmer’s markets are either non-existent or unreachable, sometimes referred to as “food deserts.” “These areas exist in virtually every city and state in the country,” Koprak continues. “There are lots of places where people have to take three buses or drive 30 miles for food, places where the only nearby place to buy groceries is the gas station.”

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The Lilith Blog

August 24, 2018 by

Women Are Speaking Up About Healthcare Inequality

Maybe you’ve heard the Bella Abzug story about how, as a US Congresswoman in the 1970s, she applied for an American Express card—and was told she could only have one if her husband signed for it.

She fought back. (So did her husband). Not just for her. But for all American women. This is hardly the achievement for which the Jewish Congresswoman — firebrand, feminist, activist, lawyer, (not to mention Zionist and member of Hadassah, where I hang my professional hat) — is best known, although it’s a popular one. But it’s a solid reminder that we can, together, cross some issues off our checklist for women’s equality. 

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The Lilith Blog

August 23, 2018 by

Bloody Waters at the Mikveh

The tablecloths in this palatial Newton synagogue are all Tiffany blue, as are the event programs and the lanyards for our nametags, which have High Holiday-style fundraiser cards on the back.  My nametag is as expected. My companion S’s, however, lists the name and title of a Baptist preacher, a woman who runs an abortion outreach group funded by Planned Parenthood. This woman had invited me to be her date to this shindig weeks before—presumably as she didn’t want to be the lone Christian clergyperson at a mikveh fundraising gala without a Jewish wingwoman—but had succumbed to a late-spring cold at the eleventh hour.  S., magnanimously, agreed to come with me instead. 

“Come on,” I’d said to my friend S, “It’s a mikveh gala with circus arts. It cannot possibly be boring.” 

“Alright,” she’d said, grimly, “but I am not changing and I am not putting on heels. It’s 6PM on Thursday; that’s a time for people with nannies.

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The Lilith Blog

August 23, 2018 by

Googling Won’t Solve My Abandonment Issues—But I Can’t Stop

internet-search-engine

When it comes to healthy relationships, sometimes I think my parents screwed me out of any chance I may have had at one.

My parents and I stopped speaking when I was 20. It had been a slow-build up, a growing rift, and then suddenly one day… I just didn’t have parents anymore. This isn’t an exaggeration: my mom called the police on me when I showed up to my childhood home. Today, she still forbids me and my grandparents –with whom I remain close—from seeing my siblings. As for my father, he once told me I deserved to be abused by her.

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The Lilith Blog

August 22, 2018 by

Why Deporting an (Actual) Nazi Feels Hollow in the Age of Charlottesville

Under the heading of “better late than never!” the last known Nazi war criminal, the 95 year old Jakiw Palij, has been arrested at his Queens home by ICE and deported to Germany.  It’s justice done, yet in this summer of fear and anger, it feels hollow to focus on the past without looking at the present.

According to a press release from the State Department, Palij served as an armed guard at the Trawniki slave-labor camp for Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland during the second World War. He concealed his Nazi service when he immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1949. A federal court stripped Palij of his citizenship in 2003 and a U.S. immigration judge ordered him removed from the United States in 2004 based on his wartime activities and postwar immigration fraud. A careful reader will notice that that was 14 years ago. So, nu?

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The Lilith Blog

August 22, 2018 by

When a Queer Feminist Professor is Accused of Harassment

canada-ontario-toronto-front-campusWe defend our friends. It’s natural. It’s powerful. It’s what friendship is all about. Certainly Avital Ronell’s friends— the most powerful philosophers in academe, for what it’s worth—wanted to defend her from the recently revealed allegations that she’d sexually harassed one of her male graduate students. The Title IX complaint by Nimrod Reitman  resulted in her year-long suspension from NYU.

But she had high-profile defenders in the feminist world. Judith Butler. Slavoj Žižek. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Shoshana Felman. These are just a few of the famous progressive scholars who lept to her defense in a widely circulated letter excerpted in the New York Times. Presumably without all the facts, they chose to attack the survivor. That’s certainly not a surprise, human behavior being what it is.

But to be honest, as an academic, I expected more. From the most revered names in the humanities, people who would be expected to make conclusions based on evidence in the name of social justice, I expected more. 

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