Lilith Magazine Independent, Jewish & Frankly Feminist Mon, 13 Jul 2020 16:40:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How To Save a Life in the Next 72 Hours Mon, 13 Jul 2020 16:40:17 +0000 Nechama Liss-Levinson These regulations, brought to you by the same people who decided to separate children from their parents, will be particularly loathsome for women and for those who are LGBTQ.

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Just a week ago, as we celebrated the July 4th holiday weekend, the American festival of freedom, one thing I did stood out from the rest. The true celebration of freedom for me was when I sent my comments to the Federal government opposing the new regulations being proposed regarding those seeking asylum. This new proposal, which will become law by executive order if it is not stopped, basically strips asylum seekers of the few rights they have. Judges will be able to dismiss cases without hearings. The definition of ‘persecution’ would be changed, so that fleeing threats of violence or even death may not be sufficient.

]]> 0 Call for Submissions: Black and Jewish Fiction Mon, 13 Jul 2020 15:26:39 +0000 admin Writers of color: polish up that short story, flash fiction piece, or novel excerpt and submit today! 

Continue reading]]> Polish up that short story, flash fiction piece, or novel excerpt and submit today! Lilith magazine–independent, Jewish & frankly feminist–especially welcomes feminist fiction submissions from Black Jewish feminist writers and BIJOC writers of all gender identities this summer for our upcoming print issues. Publishing since 1976, Lilith (, and in print) has always been committed to diverse representation from Jews of Color, and we’re eager to expand this with more fiction from YOU.

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You Gave Him Permission Fri, 03 Jul 2020 13:00:26 +0000 admin Continue reading]]> So my Facebook feed, and conversations with white friends are mostly back to ‘normal’: a few anti-Trump things, lots of summertime fun, a petition here and there, and my Black friends are still talking about how Black Lives Matter. >As such, this feels like a good time to remind y’all that when Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck and looked up at the cameras and the screaming crowd, hands in his pockets, shoulders relaxed, nonchalantly taking a Black life, he wasn’t alone. And I’m not just talking about the officers who were bystanders. I’m talking about ALL the white folks, who every day, actively or passively, contribute to a society that values white lives above all. Y’all were the ones that gave Derek Chauvin the permission to kneel on that man’s neck and not even blink a moment of concern the entire time.

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“We’re All Nervous About What’s Coming”—A Michigan Nurse on the Covid Crisis Thu, 25 Jun 2020 13:00:14 +0000 Arielle Silver-Willner You have a level of compassion, being a nurse, and suddenly it’s more difficult.

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Melissa Boals is a nurse at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Michigan. She serves on the board of the Michigan Nurses Association, which represents approximately 13,000 nurses, and her hospital recently won its fight for unionization in 2017. In early May, she spoke to Arielle Silver-Willner about her experiences during the Covid crisis, as well as Jewish identity in the predominantly non-Jewish Traverse City.

Arielle Silver-Willner: I’d like to begin by thanking you for your hard work, bravery, and the sacrifices you’ve had to make during the last few months (I heard that you had to be separated from your daughter for safety reasons and that today is the first time you are able to see her again). All of this could not have been easyhow are you?  

Melissa Boals: I’m happy right now. When I picked her up I teared up. I know that I only have so many days with her and then we’ll see what happens because we’re having a lot of tourists coming, not social distancing and not wearing masks and it’s very concerning. According to the Grand Traverse Health Department website we had two out-of-state travelers test positive. Both were symptomatic. They had traveled to Grand Traverse County to visit family, so we’re all nervous about what’s coming.

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Making Flatbread to Nourish the Body and Spirit Thu, 18 Jun 2020 16:18:41 +0000 admin We are now also in a time of social and political upheaval and change. This makes the qualities of bread’s emotional sustenance even more important.

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Since humans first tamed fire and turned grain into flour, we have been making bread. In the earliest form, breads were simple. Mix one or more flours with water. Pat out into a flat cake. Cook on a hot rock or a stone hearth around an open fire. That’s it. So simple, so basic to survival. And something shared by all peoples on Earth throughout history

IMG_3292As we’ve seen during this pandemic, baking bread is about more than just survival. There’s something about the bread-making process that is compelling. It’s elemental, grounding, nourishing in the most essential ways. If you haven’t (yet) baked bread during this time, your Facebook feed and Instagram have almost certainly been full of pictures of all kinds of breads people you know have made when forced to stay at home. Sourdough, which takes daily attention to keep the starter alive, has been particularly popular. It’s hard not to draw some symbolism from that.

]]> 1 From Catholic to Conservative Jew: One Spiritual Journey Tue, 16 Jun 2020 02:35:25 +0000 Arielle Silver-Willner Within the Orthodox community I have not been treated differently. When I did my very first Pesach, this woman asked, “Do you have food for Pesach?” I said “No,”...she sent me apple juice and all the seasonings and everything you can think of. And she said, “You’re a single woman, this is what we’re here for.” That’s when I knew I was welcome and I didn’t have to worry about much.

Continue reading]]> Dennies Gajadhar was born and raised in a Catholic family in Guyana. Soon after moving to the U.S., she began to learn about Judaism and made the decision to convert, become a Bat Mitzvah, and move to an Orthodox community. She spoke with Arielle Silver-Willner about her journey, and her experiences as a newcomer and a black woman in the Orthodox community.

Arielle Silver-Willner: You were born into a Caribbean Catholic family- How did you learn about Jewish traditions and practices?

Dennies Gajadhar: Where we are from, we’d never heard about Judaism. When I came here I started working [as a nanny]. My job was to take [the children] to Hebrew school and then they joined the choir; I would stay and listen to them. At one point they were singing and I was singing too, and the cantor was like “Maybe you should join the choir.”

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To Save the Planet and Ourselves, Root Down to Love Thu, 11 Jun 2020 16:49:26 +0000 Nylah Burton There are five things at the forefront of my mind these days; the national struggle against racist violence, the climate crisis, the coronavirus, death, family, but underlying it all... love. 

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There are five things at the forefront of my mind these days; the national struggle against racist violence, the climate crisis, the coronavirus, death, family, but underlying it all… love. 

A phrase that’s always bothered me is, “You have to love yourself before someone else can love you.” At its core, it’s a true statement. Self-love is the foundation from which all healthy and fulfilling love grows.

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Unetaneh Tokef for Black Lives Tue, 09 Jun 2020 22:40:29 +0000 admin A rewriting of Unetaneh Tokef in honor of the Black Lives that have been lost to racist violence.

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Friday would’ve been the 65th birthday of my first wife and her yahrzeit is this week. As I thought about the beauty of her laugh and the pain of her end, so different from those on whose behalf we cry out, the words of the Unetaneh Tokef—a prayer that inspires fear and awe during the High Holidays—came to me.

Both the Unetaneh Tokef and the impact of this list of killings of Black Americans (compiled by an unknown community member) inspired “Unetaneh Tofek for Black Lives”.

Each day we hazard our Black lives in the Court of the White World

We know our worth

Yet the white world is judge-self-appointed

We pass before you to be counted

12.5 million bodies stolen

1.8 million mercifully avoided your shores

Stolen shores, stolen land

10.7 million arrived unsafely

…times 401 years

…times infinite human indignities

…times ⅗ of a human being

We now number 47.8 million



In the morning it is written and by curfew it is sealed

Who shall die while jogging (#AhmaudArbery)

Who shall die while relaxing in the comfort of their home (#BothamJean #AtatianaJefferson)

Who shall die while seeking help after a car crash (#JonathanFerrell #RenishaMcBride).

Who shall die while holding a cellphone (#StephonClark).

Who shall die while decorating for a party (#ClaudeReese).

Who shall die while leaving a party (#JordanEdwards #SeanBell)

 Who shall die while enjoying music (#JordanDavis).

Who shall die while selling music…trying to make a way outta no way (#AltonSterling).


Who shall die while sleeping (#AiyanaJones)

Who shall die while worshipping the Lord (#Charleston9).


Who shall die for a traffic violation (#SandraBland).

Who shall die while coming from the store (#MikeBrown and #TrayvonMartin).


Who shall die while playing cops and robbers (#TamirRice).

Who shall die while lawfully carrying a weapon (#PhilandoCastile, #FreddieGray).

Who shall die while on the shoulder of the road with car problems (#CoreyJones #TerrenceCrutcher).

Who shall die in the first hours of the new year (#OscarGrant)

Who shall die while shopping at Walmart (#JohnCrawford).

Who shall die while cashing a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood).


Who shall die while reading a book in their own car (#KeithScott).

Who shall die while taking a walk with their stepfather (#CliffordGlover).


Who shall die while reaching for their wallet (#AmadouDiallo).

Who shall die while running away (#WalterScott).


Who shall die while asking a cop a question (#RandyEvans).

Who shall die while begging for their life, their breath (#EricGarner #GeorgeFloyd).


Who shall die by the effects of supremacy, greed, and apathy

…who by beast, indeed


“But repentance, prayer and charity temper judgment’s severe decree”

“But repentance, prayer and charity avert judgment’s severe decree?”

But turning, connection and giving, these return us to our Gd?

Whose repentance? Whose prayer? Whose charity?

Temper, please temper

Temper already! Temper… 

For sins against God, the Day of Atonement brings forgiveness; for sins against one’s fellowman, the Day of Atonement brings no forgiveness till he has become reconciled with the fellowman he wronged. (Mishnah Yoma 8:9)

“The Day of Atonement brings no forgiveness 

till he has become reconciled with the fellowman he wronged.”

When will you atone? How will you atone?


For you, like us, will be judged.

You, like us, will return to dust.



Imani Romney-Rosa Chapman is one of the co-founders of Romney Associates, Inc. She has more than 25 years of experience organizing, educating, and developing curriculum for social justice. Her writing about racial intimacy and anti-racism at her Brooklyn synagogue can be found in the chapter she co-authored in UnCommon Bonds: Women Reflect on Race and Friendship (Peter Lang). 

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Where Was the “Peace” 400 Years Ago? Tue, 09 Jun 2020 15:45:14 +0000 admin I thought my father hadn’t fought that day because he gave in. I thought he had let them win, when in reality, he had decided that his life, vows, and the promises that he had made to his wife and children trumped everything.

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My father is the most peaceful man I know.

A few years ago, he came home from the watch store, and told us that the owner had said to him, “What would people think if they walked in and saw a nigger working here?” after my father had casually said something about becoming his apprentice and learning how to fix watches. In that very moment, I wish my dad hadn’t been the peaceful man that he is.

“… a nigger working here…”

I think about this story frequently. I was so angry at my father for not screaming in the owner’s face, or arguing with him until he had lost his voice. My father had let me down. I wanted him to fight, but I never told him this.

A few weeks ago in an argument, I brought this story up again, and in an instant I finally revealed to my father how I truly felt; how I felt about him walking out the door before an argument could even begin. About how his actions made me lose faith in his ability to defend the color of my skin. As he listened to my concerns, with his legs crossed and his eyes calm but focused, he soaked up the emotion that poured out of his 18-year-old daughter. That day, my father told me that if he had gotten into an argument, he would have been risking his daughters having a future without a father or his sons having to lock the door at night, because they would now be the oldest men in the house. He wanted to fight, but he had to choose.

I thought my father hadn’t fought that day because he gave in. I thought he had let them win, when in reality, he had decided that his life, vows, and the promises that he had made to his wife and children trumped everything. His family was more important than defending the color of his skin, in that rundown watch shop. My father decided to swallow his anger in the face of a man who only saw his Black skin, a man who perceived my father’s brown eyes as more threatening than the small pocket knife dangling from his own jeans.

My father chose us. He chose to come home instead of lying on a rug in a pool of blood, alone, and unable to defend the skin that would be soaked in the very red that is printed on the flag of a country that promised to protect him.

There will be more racist shop owners, there will be more blood, there will be more sons and daughters waiting on the stoop for their fathers who are never coming home.

Who’s gonna raise the kids of the parents who were murdered screaming “George Floyd?” Who’s gonna carry the body of a young Black man who has not even graduated high school yet?

My father is the most peaceful man I know, and I love him for that. But I won’t wait for my brothers to be the next young Black men that “fit the description.” I want to see my 13-year-old brother graduate from middle school.

I want to be peaceful, but where was the peace when my people hung from trees, naked and stripped of their lives?

Where was the peace when Emmett Till was mutilated and murdered at the age of 14? 
Where was the peace when unarmed Breonna Taylor was shot eight times in the comfort of her own home? Where was the peace when two men in a pickup truck chased Ahmaud Arbery, an innocent man, and fired a shotgun into his stomach?

We need more peaceful people like my father, but I won’t wait for his blood to be spilled.

So let me ask you again,
Where was the peace 400 years ago?


Makeda Zabot-Hall is on the editorial board of jGirls Magazine, where this piece was originally published. You can read more of Makeda’s work here

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Let’s Get To Work Thu, 04 Jun 2020 21:04:57 +0000 admin White people have an enormously important role to play in dismantling white supremacy. Let us be in this work together. Yes, you, whoever you are reading this. Let us commit to daily practice. Let us hold each other accountable, let us just hold each other, let us carry each other through.

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White folks: how many of you have spent the week feeling paralyzed by the question: “What do I do?” I’m not going to answer that for you. Because we each have to answer that one for ourselves. 

Yet whether any of us like it, we are responsible for one another. Your choices are my responsibility. Your silence is my responsibility. And mine is yours. That’s kind of how this white thing works (except spoiler alert: this white thing is definitely not working).

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