The Lilith Blog

The Lilith Blog

October 29, 2018 by

To My Friend, Whose Celebration Was the Day of a Massacre

We were at the mikveh on Friday, nine of us, seven celebrants and two attendants who witnessed our joy as you marked your birthday and a moment of pause in your high profile, high impact job. It was a soul-filled morning, saturated with reflections on some relationships that spanned decades, and some that were bright and new but still profound. 

You had never been to the mikveh, the ritual bath that cleanses and prepares Jews for many roles – that of sexual preparedness and procreation, that of convert, that of celebrant. Preparing for immersion strips you down to your barest place, with not a spot that can come between you and the waters. The waters which are rain waters, waters that have been a part of this earth for millennia, touching your skin, soothing your heart, marking your passage.

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The Lilith Blog

October 25, 2018 by

On the Road With Susan Wild in Pennsylvania

L1550398Lilith photographer Joan Roth and her granddaughter, Lilith writer Shira Gorelick, visited the congressional campaign of Susan Wild in Pennsylvania’s 7th district and documented what they found. Shira’s account is accompanied by Joan’s photos below.

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The Lilith Blog

October 24, 2018 by

Why I Left My Sorority

Of all phases I went through in college, I speak the least of my time in a sorority. It wasn’t just any sorority, but the one that does that precarious arm pose, like a sun visor with your hand, but your hand is upside down and backwards and maybe on the verge of breaking. When I do talk about it, I’m guilty of one of the main critiques I level at sorority women: I judge. I give the finger to the classist, racist, sexist nature of Greek life, which, in retrospect, formed the most impactful phase of my college years. My short few months in a sorority taught me that I have the agency to choose my communities, and my values. 

But before coming to that realization and quickly leaving Greek life, I was a sorority girl. Like 85% of Supreme Court Justices that have served between 1910-2014, I was member of the exclusive system that is Greek life. 

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October 23, 2018 by

A Romantic Novel That Acknowledges the Limits of Romance

shortestAt the end of the summer, I was happy to curl up with a book that takes place in a beautiful winery, with two handsome male characters vying for the protagonists hand. It sounds fun and escapist–and it is! But Miriam Parker’s The Shortest Way Home goes deeper than its bubbly, clear surface, subtly questioning conventional definitions of success for its heroine, Hannah, who begins the novel with a lucrative job and a rich boyfriend.

She ends it in a far different place. Lilith spoke to Parker about undercutting rom-coms, learning about wine, and her favorite Jewish feminists. 

What inspired you to set the book in wine country?

The germ of it began a long time ago. In around 2010, I was out in California for work, and by myself, I got a little hotel room in downtown Sonoma, walked around, and fell in love with the place. I even found a winery and ended up signing up for the wine club so every few months these wines would show up and remind me. 

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October 22, 2018 by

On the Trail With Nevada Senate Hopeful Jacky Rosen

Nevada’s Senate race is one of the most hotly contested in the country—pitting former Synagogue president and current Democratic congresswoman Jacky Rosen against incumbent Dean Heller. It’s such an important race, and in such a dead heat, that President Trump himself is coming to town to stump for Rosen’s opponent.

Lilith’s photographer Joan Roth went out to Nevada to document Jacky Rosen’s campaign, watching up close as she met voters, shook hands, talked issues— and of course posed for selfies. Rosen, who has been her district’s House representative, has been making an effort to connect with Nevada voters from all walks of life.

A selection of images follow below.


*L1470019 (more…)

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October 18, 2018 by

“And I Am Two and Twenty.”

It is one of those summer evenings I wish could go on forever, the kind that I dream about all winter: the day’s heat giving way to a cooler evening;  the air still with an occasional soft breeze setting off the tinkling of the wind chimes; the scent of deep red and yellow roses wafting through the yard. I am in love. Barefoot, I race across the downy grass with J, who in a month will be my husband, and my brother, who is thirteen. Although we’ve only met the last September and were engaged by December, I am sure that J is the person I am supposed to marry. All summer I have been shopping for my trousseau with my mother. I have starred at bridal showers, and, along with my parents, marveled that a shy, awkward teenager had metamorphosed into a slender, smiling woman — a great catch. How could there be anything wrong?

The diamond ring shines brilliantly on my finger, the wedding plans are moving along at an unstoppable pace, and we’ve already rented an apartment, which I have been decorating in blue and green. Even better, my fiancé—I love that word–is a Nice Jewish Boy who works in his father’s business, which will someday be his.

There are warning signs, but I don’t see them. 

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October 17, 2018 by

Finding Feminist Defiance Through Reading Torah

LilyGrowing up in a strictly Modern-Orthodox school as a passionate and outspoken feminist, I’ve always felt somewhat trapped. Whether it was lethargically watching the men, and only the men, read Torah in my school’s minyan, or being taught in Tanach class that Vashti, Ahasuerus wife, was a rebellious and evil woman, I always seemed to find myself pondering the lack of gender equality within Judaism. How could I identify as both a feminist, and a Modern Orthodox Jew? The two labels always seemed to contradict one another. It wasn’t until October 20, 2012—my Bat Mitzvah date—that I would truly understand how I could be both at the same time.

My family, being more progressive than most in our community, are strong believers in women reading from the Torah. My older sister, Jennie, read Torah at Robinson’s Arch, the egalitarian section of the Western Wall, for her Bat Mitzvah, so it was a given that I would do the same.

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October 15, 2018 by

The Depth of Grandparents’ Love

51NaQ24Gg0L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Lilith’s Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough spoke to memoirist and novelist Kathryn Harrison about her latest foray into family history, On Sunset.

“Blending family history and mythology, anecdotes and photographs, this book is not simply one woman’s open love letter to two magnificently eccentric grandparents; it is also a testament to the enduring power of memory,” writes Kirkus.

YZM: You have written extensively—and well as memorably and beautifully—about your family, including your grandparents, in other essays. Why did you decide to focus exclusively on them now? 

KH: I don’t so much decide to write a book as arrive at it. In the case of On Sunset, it’s only now, in my late fifties, with three adult children, that I am beginning to understand what it means to take on the care of a child—a newborn—at 71 and 62—the magnitude of my grandparents’ love. I never felt myself a burden shouldered for my irresponsible teenage mother. 

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October 11, 2018 by

Nazi-Occupied Normandy and a Family’s Wartime Secrets

news ofFiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough talks to Abigail Dewitt about her lyrical and haunting novel, which tells the multi-generational story of a French family and the way the Nazi occupation—and the Allied invasion—have shaped their lives.

YZM:  You write so beautifully and intimately about France—what is your connection to the country? 

AD: Thank you! I’m a dual citizen of France and the U.S. My mother was a young, French, theoretical physicist when she came to the States in the late 1940s to study at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study. She’d lost half her family in the D-day bombings and intended to go home after two years to re-join her three surviving siblings, but instead, she met my father and married him. Still, she was deeply committed to helping r-build France after the war, so, to make up for marrying an American, she founded the École de Physique des Houches in the French Alps. She and my father taught at the University of North Carolina, but we spent every summer in France so she could run the institute and we could know our relatives.

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October 11, 2018 by

The Chutzpah of Sarah Bernhardt

6xfxanLASarah Bernhardt had chutzpah. This illegitimate daughter of a Dutch Jewish courtesan had already gained wide renown as the best actress of her day when she decided to take on an exceptionally high-profile, high-risk role: She wanted to play Hamlet. Not girlfriend Ophelia or mother Gertrude, but the Danish prince himself, considered by many to be Shakespeare’s most difficult and iconic character. 

It was a glass-ceiling-breaking move, one among several in Bernhardt’s career, and it inspired playwright Theresa Rebeck to build a play, set in 1897, around Bernhardt’s struggles. First Bernhardt had to overcome the dismissive skepticism of some men: “It’s grotesque. If Shakespeare meant for Hamlet to be a woman, he would have named the play ‘Hamlet princess of Denmark,” Rebeck has one critic protest.

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