The Lilith Blog

November 19, 2018 by

A Final “Shoah” Installment Tells Women’s Stories

What’s left for filmmaker Claude Lanzmann to tell us about the Shoah? At his death at 92 this past July, with rare honors at Les Invalides in Paris, he had gone from teenage fighter in the French resistance to the tireless creator of “Shoah,” its 9-plus hours of interviews followed by feature-length spinoffs.

Much of Lanzmann’s work concentrates on men’s stories. Now women are getting the last words. And the telling is in the details.  Would these stories have the same impact if they were not part of the Lanzmann canon? I think not. But he showed us a different way of looking at the Shoah. As historian Deborah Lipstadt says, Lanzmann was trying to instill modesty of judgment. We don’t know what we’d do in their place.

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The Lilith Blog

November 19, 2018 by

The Modest Fashionista Who Became Cutting Edge

As a fashion maven, I’ve noticed that in New York, many Orthodox Jewish women  favor modest, well-made clothing that just falls short of—or maybe intentionally steps aside from—chic or cutting edge.

Enter Batsheva Hay, nee Rosenberg, a self-styled fashionista who cultivated her penchant for mixing vintage with contemporary pieces to create her own unique look. Recent profiles in the New Yorker and the New York Times reveal a fascinating story: When she was in her twenties, and working as a lawyer in New York City, she met a photographer named Alexi Hay, a well known fashion photographer. Hay had recently become an Orthodox Jew, and he nurtured a growing interest in Orthodox clothing. Batsheva shared his interest and he even began photographing her wearing the covered up styles favored by the frum. 

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The Lilith Blog

November 15, 2018 by

What Happens in the Real World Stays There

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While at summer camp, my campers aren’t allowed to have their phones on them. There are a multitude of reasons for our no-phone policy, but high among them is that we “disconnect to reconnect.” By removing internet access from our campers, we staffers create an immersive environment that can’t easily be affected by the happenings of the outside world. Even though staff members do have access to our phones, we have collectively agreed not to share with our children whatever information we learn.

If a counselor is having a bad day, that information ideally stays among the staff. This way, in the interest of allowing the campers to focus on having a fun and fulfilling summer, we create a world where news from the outside world, from celebrity engagements to mass shootings, does not penetrate.

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The Lilith Blog

November 15, 2018 by

Female Friendship and Competition in a Novel of the 90s

Lilith’s Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough talks with author Catherine Hiller about her sharp, smartly observed period novel that deals with female friendship, office edition.

feud_cover_2-x_smallYZM: Why did you choose to set the novel in the 1990s?

 CH: It was a pivotal time in American life, when email, digital cameras, and cell phones were coming into common use. I wanted to dramatize the impact of these digital technologies. For instance, the book opens with Nikki opening her email at work (she doesn’t have email at home) and seeing a message and an attachment from an unfamiliar address. She idly opens the attachment to find it is a photograph of herself and two men, naked. She’d been drugged and raped on a business trip but hadn’t known she’d been photographed. 

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The Lilith Blog

November 14, 2018 Elana Rebitzer and Lilith Staff

12 New Books About Contemporary Jewish Identity — All by Women!

The cover of the New York Times Book Review this weekend features a review of 5 recent books detailing the American Jewish experience — all of which were written by men. As illuminating as each of those books may be individually, and as deeply as the review engages with them, their aggregation egregiously leaves out the experiences and perspectives of approximately half of American Jews (if not more!).

Critics on Twitter immediately noted how unfortunate it is that the piece didn’t at the very least call attention to the cutting-edge academic scholarship and writing by many Jewish women, including feminists.

But the debate goes beyond academic (specialized) vs. trade (general audience) dichotomies. In 2018, it’s simply not enough to throw up ones hands and say, “There aren’t enough trade books by women!” The critic’s job is, in part, to wrestle with why trends in an industry exist, and to therefore, in this case, ask what truths five books by white Ashkenazi men might all be missing about contemporary Jewish identity.

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The Lilith Blog

November 12, 2018 by

#MeToo and the Women of the Bible

Esther Denouncing Haman, by Ernest Normand (1888)

Esther Denouncing Haman, by Ernest Normand (1888)

Women telling intimate truths in the public sphere. Women raising their voices to demand they be treated fairly. Women challenging the leaders of the land to listen compassionately to their stories. We think of this as a contemporary phenomenon: the #metoo movement culminating most recently in allegations of sexual misconduct against our new Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh.

But in truth, women have been speaking up for a long time. Millennia, at least. We need to look no further than the stories of the Hebrew Bible.

Granted, this all-time bestseller reflects the values of its time; you can hardly turn a page without tripping over what we now call sexism, among other isms. However, the Bible also contains a number of stories of women speaking up for themselves and each other.

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The Lilith Blog

November 8, 2018 by

When Election Night Isn’t A Victory

While women broke many a glass ceiling this week, not every story had a happy ending. We were on the scene with Florida candidate Lauren Baer who ran a tough race in Florida, as the disappointing results came in.

“My campaign started with a sense of duty to defend the rights of my very sick mother and with a dream that I could help create a better world for my very young daughter,” she said in her concession speech. “But from the very start this campaign was about more than my mother and my daughter. It’s been about a dream that we all share…that children can be born into this world safe and wanted, that they can learn in good public schools and play in clean water and live free from senseless gun violence… Although our campaign must end tonight, our movement to restore faith in democracy will live on ….”

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November 6, 2018 by

Gloria Steinem’s Life, Onstage

 (L-R)  Joanna  Glushak,  Fedna  Jacquet,  Francesca  Fernandez  McKenzie,  Christine  Lahti,  Patrena  Murray,  DeLanna  Studi,  and  Liz  Wisan  in  GLORIA:  A  Life  by  Emily  Mann,  directed  by  Diane  Paulus,  at  the  Daryl  Roth  Theatre.  Photo  ©  Joan  Marcus.

(L-R) Joanna Glushak, Fedna Jacquet, Francesca Fernandez McKenzie, Christine Lahti, Patrena Murray, DeLanna Studi, and Liz Wisan in GLORIA: A Life by Emily Mann, directed by Diane Paulus, at the Daryl Roth Theatre. Photo © Joan Marcus.

As I entered a Midtown Manhattan building a couple of years ago, I spotted a slim familiar-looking woman with blond hair rushing out. Wide-eyed, I asked the two thirty-something security guards–one male, one female–”Was that Gloria Steinem?”

They replied, “Who’s Gloria Steinem?”

A few days later, I related my astonishment about the guards’ reaction to two other thirty-somethings–one male, one female–whom I know to be college-educated, media savvy and squarely in favor of equality for women.

They, too, asked, “Who’s Gloria Steinem?”

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The Lilith Blog

November 6, 2018 by

A Jeffersonville Rally with Congress Hopeful Liz Watson

At the Jeffersonville neighborhood rally, the atmosphere was infused with enthusiasm, not only for Liz Watson, Democratic candidate for Indiana congresswoman, but with candidates running for local and state offices. The rally was a home-grown Indiana Democratic event, hosted by the party for volunteers willing to take time out of their own schedules to hit door after door after door in North Jeffersonville.

A motivator, discussing the stakes in this election, quotes Martin Luther King: “An individual cannot start living until he/she rises above the narrow confines of individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

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The Lilith Blog

November 1, 2018 by

A Road Trip With Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson

Comedian and Broad City star Abbi Jacobson’s second book, I Might Regret This is a series of “essays, drawings, vulnerabilities, and other stuff” that describe a solo summer cross-country road trip after a devastating break-up.

Jacobson contemplates self and solitude, life stages and sleep stages, her queerness and creativity with the Broad City-style humor is designed to have its readers  you smiling from ear to ear on the subway—if not lol’ing. I actually recommend reading this book in transit, so you can transpose your quirky travel-related anxieties into Abbi’s. Her neuroses range from how to plan bathroom rest stops to how to fall asleep in motel beds to how to deal with a list of “adult concerns” (“duvet covers and how often to wash them,” “figuring out how to learn how to meditate,” “overall health,” “Should I be smoking more weed?”) right up to what to do when the apocalypse comes; you know, those relatable worries of an East Coast Jewish millennial. 

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