The Lilith Blog

June 11, 2019 Yona Zeldis McDonough

Conversation with a Curator: Avery Exhibit Features Works by Artist Wife and Daughter

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“Summer with the Averys [Milton/Sally/March],” a remarkable show at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, presents the work of american painter Milton Avery alongside that of his wife Sally and their daughter March, who were both artists in their own right.

A Jewish girl born in 1902, Sally Avery (née Michel) studied painting at the Arts Students League and met Milton in 1924; she was 22 and he was 39. They married in 1926 and embarked upon an unusual artistic life together.

Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough talks to Stephanie Guyet (who assisted Professor Kenneth E. Silver in mounting the show) about the special role Sally played in her husband’s life and career. 

Sally Michel.Swimming Lesson, 1987, Watercolor on paper

Sally Michel Swimming Lesson, 1987

 

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The Lilith Blog

June 7, 2019 Yona Zeldis McDonough

“Jade Lily” Imagines Jewish Refugees Who Found Home in Shanghai

Song of Jade LilyVienna, 1938.  It’s clear to the Bernfelds that they are no longer welcome in their city and they have to flee.  But where? No one wants or will accept the refugees…no one except the Chinese that is, and so the family, or what remains of it, heads for Shanghai.   Novelist Kirsty Manning talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about how she accidentally stumbled upon this bit of Jewish history and what she did to bring it to life in The Song of the Jade Lily.

 

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The Lilith Blog

June 6, 2019 by

Moments My Bubbe Would Hate, Part 3: I Never Wanted Kids

In the third part of this comic strip series about my grandmother, my mom and I wrestle with the consequences of Bubbe’s parenting on our relationship (see part I and II here.)

Bubbe Series 3 p.1 (updated)

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June 3, 2019 by

It’s Time to Be a Single-Issue Voter for the Climate

Climate Change 3Voting for a political candidate solely on the basis of their stance on a single issue is not always the smartest thing to do. Bluntly put, it’s often a decision motivated by myopic selfishness, as well. Part of this is because single-issue voting is, in my mind, too often associated with people who vote for candidates with draconian policy positions. Consider guardians of gun “rights”, so-called Israel “supporters” who ignore domestic policy both here and there, opponents of gay marriage, and anti-abortion advocates. At this moment in time, with extreme, oppressive positions on so many of these issues, single-issue voting can feel dangerous.

But then there are the other kind of single-minded voters… people who have worthy causes they care, but who will vote for candidates with no chance of winning for the sake of “purity.” I get it: voting is an extremely personal statement of values, but it can be frustrating when this happens during a high-stakes election. Remember all those people who voted for JIll Stein and Gary Johnson during the 2016 election? Yeah… I’m still mad about that. 

So, it’s safe to say that I usually think single-issue voting isn’t the best thing to do.  Except in the 2020 presidential election. As a Black Jewish feminist I am committed to many issues that are life and death–from police violence to abortion–but for the first time, I find myself zeroing in on a singular issue: climate catastrophe.

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May 29, 2019 by

Restorative Justice in the Classroom: An Interview with Cassie Schwerner

It’s been six months since Dr. Cassie Schwerner became the Executive Director of the 37-year-old Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility in New York City and she has many items on her organizational to-do list. The group’s mission – to promote equity in public schools through reliance on restorative justice over suspension for rules infractions; increase social and emotional learning in the classroom; and inspire honest, well-facilitated discussions about the impact of race on everyday interactions — is enormous, but Schwerner says she’s up to the challenge. 

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May 28, 2019 by

Female Rebellion Challenges Patriarchy in Two New Novels

two books“Revolutions don’t come from a place of happiness,” writes Etaf Rum, in her debut novel, A Woman is No Man. The narrative flips between two, sometimes more, perspectives—Isra, a Palestinian woman who leaves her home in the early 1990s to marry Adam, a man she has met only once, and move to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, navigating through her senior year of high school in 2008, while trying to convince her grandparents that she should be able to go to college instead of getting married. It’s a story of insularity, brutality—and the redemption that can come from women’s quiet revolutions.

Women Talking is the latest novel from Canadian author Miriam Toews (an actual Canadian informed me that it’s pronounced TAYVZ), about a group of women discussing what action to take after coming to the realization that they, as well as their daughters, have been raped by men living alongside them in Molotschna, their isolated Mennonite community somewhere in South America. August Epp, a young man who has recently re-entered the community after his parents were excommunicated, is the notetaker for the women, who can neither read nor write. The novel chronicles the decision-making process (the options are Do Nothing, Stay and Fight, or Leave), and the conversation grows steadily tenser when the women learn that one of the rapists is returning to the community.

It’s easy to draw lines between these novels and the current state of affairs in the world—there’s even a “not all men” moment in Women Talking. These are books about patriarchy, religious and cultural, and how women suffer while the boot is on their throats. Naturally, both these books are attracting major attention in 2019—especially from female readers and critics—as abortion bans and #MeToo stories sweep the country. It’s important to acknowledge how frankly the writers address patriarchy:

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May 21, 2019 by

Mel Gibson’s ‘Rothchild’ Film Ditches the ‘S’ But Keeps the Anti-Semitism

As the endless reboots, remakes, and superhero movies show, no Hollywood exec is seriously asking if we need another movie about a given topic. Movies aren’t about need. They are about want. Desire. Wish fulfillment and fantasy. Movies are where we go to imagine other worlds, and be transported from ours.

So what does it say about our world that Hollywood has greenlit a major film that uses an almost identical name to Rothschild, a name almost synonymous with anti-Semitic tropes? Whose subject is a wealthy and corrupt family who will stop at nothing in pursuit of the almighty dollar? What does it say that the film stars one of the most notoriously anti-Semitic actors of our time—you know, who I mean? If you’re not aware, google Mel Gibson and his vile comments.

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May 15, 2019 Steph Herold

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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May 14, 2019 by

The Meaning and Value of Humor: An Interview with Marilyn Simon Rothstein

In Lift and Separate and Husbands and Other Sharp Objects (both from Lake Union Publishing) humor is the lens through all of life’s mishegas is viewed.  Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough asks author Marilyn Simon Rothstein what it means to be funny, and why it’s more essential now than ever.

B16HB-gTUAS._SY600_YZM: Have you always been considered funny?

MSR: When I was growing up in Flushing, New York, a terrible name for a wonderful community where there were two ethnic groups—Orthodox Jews and Conservative Jews—my family sat around a wrought iron kitchen table and discussed one important topic—other people. Being funny was the way to get everyone’s attention. 

YZM: Do you think that Jewish humor, and in particular Jewish women’s humor, is its own category?

MSR: All humor is based on observation. So, Jewish humor is based on what a member of the Jewish community observes.  I feel that my first book, Lift And Separate, is very Jewish.

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May 13, 2019 by

Why I Started—and Then Stopped—Wearing My Tallit

Seven years after beginning to wear a tallit during prayer, I decided to stop. It was not easy to begin to take on the mitzvah wearing a tallit. Neither has it been easy in the nearly two years since I stopped.

When I wore a tallit, it was an outward manifestation of my inner conviction that women and men are made in God’s image, equal, and equally obligated to the mitzvot. As I selected and wore each of my beautiful tallitot, I felt nestled in these powerful convictions. I also felt nimble as I’d twist and braid the tzitziot on my own tallit as I had my grandfathers’ and my dad’s as a child.  Hoping that my son and daughters would someday feel connected to Judaism and mitzvot, too. I first began wearing tallit the year of my eldest children’s b’nai mitzvah.

When I chose to refrain from wearing the tallit, it was the result of the creeping realization of my own naivete: My personal convictions notwithstanding, men and women are not treated equally, are not equally safe in synagogues or the world-at-large. Wearing tallitot conspicuously marked me, exposing the vulnerability of my most deeply held beliefs while living through reactionary times where minority beliefs are so readily misconstrued, denigrated, and marginalized.

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