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The Lilith Blog

May 29, 2020 Dena Robinson

We are Dying Because of the Fears of White People

“I’m not Black, I’m Jamaican.” Following in the tradition of many immigrants and first-generation Black immigrants, that was the tune I sang for most of my adolescent life.  I ran from my Blackness. My mother came to the United States seeking a better life. Until she stepped onto U.S. soil, my mother had never known a country where you could be shot and killed just for existing. 

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The Lilith Blog

May 29, 2020 Andrea Kott

I Told Our Son He Can’t Come Home

He asked to borrow the car. 

Just two weeks earlier, he’d been sheltering with us in our Hudson River town, where he’d stayed for the first two months of lockdown. Despite our pleas, he returned to Manhattan. On a whim before leaving, he took the antibody test and learned that, like 30% of people infected with the coronavirus, he’d had it asymptomatically. Considering himself safe, he asked if he could stay overnight before taking the Honda. I reminded him that no antibody test is highly reliable and that nobody knows yet whether a true positive test means a person is immune. I had to say no. 

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The Lilith Blog

May 28, 2020 Andrea Hodos

When Will the Counting End?

The Jewish holiday of Shavuot starts tonight. My husband, Aryeh, and I have been counting many things over the past several months: 1) the days of quarantine. 2) the omer. 3) the days that Darwin Ramos will remain with us in our home. Like everything else this year, Shavuot will be different. Not only because of the quarantine, but also because we will be spending this holiday in quarantine with Darwin.

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The Lilith Blog

May 28, 2020 by

“Hello, Can You Hear Me?”: Therapy on Zoom

“Hello, can you hear me?” 

Teletherapy with each of my patients in my psychology practice begins with this hourly ritualistic greeting. But I have come to hear this seemingly innocuous question as a Mayday signal for the stranded desertion many of us are feeling right now. It’s a plea to be heard in the eerie silence of our homes, streets, playgrounds and schools, akin to “Hello, is there anyone out there?”

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The Lilith Blog

May 26, 2020 by

Making a Feast of Mezze

by Susan Barocas

As a writer, cook, filmmaker and travel enthusiast, I have loved traveling to many places and, of course, eating my way through cuisines. I’ve done this enough to know my favorite way to eat. Many of my favorite dishes have been part of mezze, an abundance of cold and hot plates full of flavor and a wide variety of ingredients.

The mezze of the Mediterranean and Mid East, called salatim in Israel and tapas in Spain, are traditionally a prelude to stimulate the appetite for the main meal to follow. But for me, mezze is a wonderfully social, leisurely way to eat the meal itself. Whether dishes are brought out one by one–cold first and then hot, as is traditional–or served all at once, mezze encourages tasting, talking and slowing down.

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The Lilith Blog

May 21, 2020 by

Original Pictures from the Real Events of “Mrs. America.”

Imagine America today, if only one women’s movement had arisen, instead of two…What the full power of womanhood might have wrought. 

 In July 1977, Harriet Lyons, then-editor at Ms. Magazine, and I attended the New York State women’s meeting in Albany, New York, in order to cast our vote for delegates to the first ever National Women’s Convention, funded by the federal government, that was to be held the following November at the University of Houston, in Texas.  It was during this awesome moment that Bella was having one of her major fits, another friend recalls. Something triggered it–perhaps the selection of delegates. 

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The Lilith Blog

May 20, 2020 by

Embracing “Quasi-Motherhood” With Humor and Empathy

Dani Alpert is one funny lady, and like many comics, she uses her life as a prime source for her material.  After falling for a divorced dad of two, she struggles to find a way to embrace the offspring she claims never to have wanted.  Fast forward to the break-up with said boyfriend, which comes with an unseen punch—by this time, she loves the kids and wants to keep them in her life. 

Alpert talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about her new memoir, The Girlfriend Mom, in which she gives us the skinny on how she does just that—and what she learns along the way. 

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The Lilith Blog

May 13, 2020 by

On Unorthodox: The Hasidim Are Not An Anomaly

Not long ago, I saw a young woman in Hasidic garb on the plaza outside Lincoln Center. She was sitting at the top of the steps with a cup and a cardboard sign, her long skirt spread around her. She wore a look of abject shame, her eyes trained on the ground.  

I pictured her as I watched the recent series Unorthodox. Television is aspirational, director Maria Schrader said in an accompanying documentary. Aspirational stories have a simple shape—the heroine escapes a monster and finds her way to freedom. At the end of Unorthodox, Esty fingers a compass given to her as a gift and smiles.

When my memoir about leaving Hasidic life first came out, it was held up as a banner in a number of secret online groups of Hasidic rebels. I am a Texan who joined the Hasidim as an idealistic teen and a lesbian, but no matter—some among them saw in my book something of themselves. Most of them had grown up in schools that denied them secular knowledge yet claimed to be accredited and drew government funds. They could be barely literate, and as culturally ignorant as a new immigrant. The group is sadly marked with addiction, depression, suicide. They share information, hold successes up and cheer one another—who learned to read, who got into college, who got to see their children. 

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The Lilith Blog

May 12, 2020 Lesléa Newman

Poetry: Thirteen Ways of Looking at Life Before The Virus

I.

I remember shaking hands:

damp sweaty hands and dry scratchy hands,

bone-crushing handshakes and dead-fish handshakes,

two-handed handshakes, my hand sandwiched 

between a pair of big beefy palms.

I remember hairy hands and freckled hands,

young smooth hands and old wrinkled hands,

red-polished fingernails and bitten-jagged fingernails,

stained hands of hairdressers who had spent all day dyeing,

dirty hands of gardeners who dug down deep into the good earth.

 

II.

Thousands of years ago, a man stuck out his right hand

to show a stranger he had no weapon.

The stranger took his hand and shook it

to make sure he had nothing up his sleeve.

And that is how it began.

 

III

I remember sharing a bucket

of greasy popcorn with a boy

at the movies

(though I no longer remember

the boy or the movie)

the thrill of our hands

accidentally on purpose

brushing each other in the dark.

 

IV

I remember my best girlfriend 

and me facing each other to play

a hand-clapping game, shrieking

“Miss Mar…Mack! Mack! Mack!”

and the loud satisfying smack!

as our four palms slapped. 

 

V.

I remember high fives

and how we’d laugh when we missed

and then do a do-over.

 

VI.

I remember the elegant turn

of shiny brass doorknobs

cool to the touch.

 

VII.

I remember my mother’s hands

tied to the railings of her hospital bed

and how I untied them

when the nurse wasn’t looking

and held them in my lap.

 

VIII.

I remember holding my father’s hand

how the big college ring he wore

rubbed against my birthstone ring

and irritated my fourth finger

but I never pulled away.

 

IX.

I remember the joy of offering

my index finger to a new baby

who wrapped it in her fist

as we gazed at each other in wonder. 

 

X.

I remember tapping a stranger

on the shoulder and saying,

“Your tag is showing.

Do you mind if I tuck it in?”

She didn’t mind. I tucked it in.

 

XI.

I remember salad bars and hot bars.

I remember saying, “Want a bite?”

and offering a forkful

of food from my plate.

I remember asking, “Can I have a sip?”

and placing my lips

on the edge of your cold frosty glass.

 

XII. 

I remember passing around the kiddush cup,

each of us taking a small sip of wine.

I remember passing around the challah,

each of us ripping off a big yeasty hunk.

I remember picking up a serving spoon

someone had just put down

without giving it a second thought.

XIII.

I remember sitting with a mourner

at a funeral, not saying a word,

simply taking her hand.

 

–Lesléa Newman

Copyright © 2020 by Lesléa Newman. First appeared in New Verse News. Used by permission of the author.

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The Lilith Blog

May 11, 2020 Elana Rabinowitz

When the Clapping Stops

I may no longer know what day it is, but I can set my clock to the nightly applause that rumble in my neighborhood at 7:00 PM sharp.  A time reserved for New York City residents to step outside (if they can) and bang on pots, whoop, or clap wildly to show their appreciation for the healthcare workers who are tirelessly on the frontlines combatting the deadly Coronavirus.  What will happen when the clapping stops?

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