Tag : Lilith

The Lilith Blog

November 24, 2020 by

Life Without Lipstick

This has been the year of devastation. Just to start, there’s the staggering death toll from COVID, the collapse of the economy, the millions out of work, threatened by homelessness—and that’s not even saying a word about the savage animosity surrounding the election or the reckoning with American racism that has resurfaced in recent months. 

In such a year, we might want to cling to our small comforts and rituals even more tightly—that latte with your BFF after a walk in the park, dinner at your favorite Italian place where every meal feels like a celebration, an afternoon at a museum or a Saturday night at the movies–but we are deprived of those too. And although none of these compare even remotely to the loss of life and living, they inflict a particular kind of pain because they are set against the backdrop of such monumental tragedy. One of those small sorrows is the loss of lipstick—and by this I mean red lipstick because for me, that’s the only kind there is.

Pre-COVID, I was never without my red lipstick. I owned more than a dozen tubes, and I always made sure there was one in my pocket or purse. On the damnably rare occasion I forgot one, I ducked into the nearest drug or department store to quickly remedy the lack. Like any addict, I couldn’t be without the stuff. At home, I’d keep tubes tucked everywhere: bathroom, bedroom, front hall, and desk drawer. There was even one in the fridge, for those blisteringly hot New York days when I needed to have my red on ice.

I wasn’t always so exclusive in my devotion. In my youth, I dabbled with coral and plum, berry and rose.  No more. Now that I’ve achieved a certain, shall we say, patina, it’s red and only red, even when I’m walking the dog or sweating at the gym.  Red lipstick is both ammunition and armor, a good luck charm, a valentine, a talisman and a fetish. Red wards off the blues, brightens the skies, lifts the spirits and stirs the soul–every single time. When you wear red lipstick, you can’t hide; it won’t let you.  Red commands attention, instills confidence, projects power.  Red is bold, red is brilliant. Red finishes off the perfect Little Black Dress, punches up a classic white T and jeans, turns a bathing suit and flip-flops into a I’m-ready-for-my-close-up moment. Red lipstick adds gumption and guts to everything you put on. The incandescently lovely Marilyn Monroe was a fan of the red lip. And so is the fierce—and fiercely awesome–Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her go-to shade is Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid in Beso, and whenever she expects a day to be more stressful than usual, she makes sure she’s rocking it. 

Yes, red leaves its mark: on the rims of glasses, napkins, and too many of your fresh-from-the cleaners clothes.  But embrace it as your own personal trademark, your brand.  Even after years of wedded bliss, I still embellish birthday and Valentine’s Day cards to my husband with a big, fat red-lipsticked smooch under my name.      

But now that we live in pandemic-land and masks are a part of daily life for who knows how long, all my ravishing reds (Chanel, YSL, L’Oreal, and Revlon among my current favorites) have been rendered useless—null and void.  There’s no point to wearing red (or any other color) under the mask.  No one sees it and it makes a mess of the inside, as well as your face.

I know that in the scheme of things, this hardly warrants mentioning, much less whining about. Yet I almost don’t know myself without my red lipstick; it’s a loss that feels so essential, so personal as to almost be disorienting. Helena Rubinstein—a woman who knew the value of a good red—built an empire on the belief that wearing make-up was a self-assertive, empowering act, one that allowed a woman to literally create the face that she showed to the world.  Well, the pandemic face is a new face in what may be a new world.  That it robs us lipstick-loving lasses of a little bit of our identity is a loss that compounds the bigger losses.  Yes, I’ll learn to cope, as I’ve learned to cope with so much else these last terrible months.  But I’m still longing for the day when I can doff the mask and paint my mouth a dazzling, bright-as-a-beacon red once again.

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The Lilith Blog

November 11, 2020 by

A Profound Posthumous Novel from a Very Late Bloomer

What does it feel like to publish your first novel at the age of 90?  That’s the question Lilith posed to Rochelle Distelheim two years ago— she was in a position to know.  Distelheim, an award-winning short story writer and Chicago native,  released her debut novel, Sadie In Love (Aubade Publishing), in 2018 and in addition to the Q & A that appeared on Lilith’s blog, we also ran excerpts from the novel, a warmly comical and deliciously wry story that sweeps us back to 1913 and the world of struggling Jewish immigrants in New York City’s Lower East Side.

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The Lilith Blog

October 15, 2020 by

Connecting Jewish Tradition with Black Fugitive Legacies

This autumn, the parking lot of the Halcyon Arts Lab in Washington DC hosted a special sukkah built by visual artist Jessica Valoris. Though its materials—recycled cardboard, paper, bamboo and plant materials—are all things you might expect to find in your average sukkah. this one is anything but; it’s a structure that confronts the past and present, invites us to engage with possibilities of the future. Lilith spoke with Valoris about creating, Black fugitivity, spirituality, and more. 

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The Lilith Blog

October 12, 2020 by

Reflections on Sukkot During the Coronavirus

So.

I don’t know about you, but I never thought we’d be here.

Saying goodbye to Sukkot, the grand festival of rejoicing, the time when we celebrate harvest, honor abundance, and pray for the rains to come.

And yet, we are. still. in. this. mess.

Last week, I walked the eerily empty streets of Jerusalem. It was an evening that would otherwise be packed with shoppers, tourists, visitors, hawkers, strangers, every kind of colorful human. There would be people buying their palm-branch-and-citron Lulav and Etrog sets from outdoor markets while tourists enjoy a late-night ice cream or beer and outdoor buskers strum their music to contribute to the overall din of joy.

Instead, there were just a few of us, approaching the stray stalls that were open to sell the season’s necessities, a sukkah plank here, a Lulav there; while the produce stands tried to get rid of their last vegetables and the buses stopped running at 9pm. It was dystopian, it was sad, it was infuriating.

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The Lilith Blog

October 12, 2020 by

The Struggle of Finding Shelter as an Orthodox Woman

Sukkot is supposed to be the holiday of rejoicing.

And yet for me, a particularly difficult time, as a single woman.

Usually, it’s the week before Sukkot that I put a call out to ask the internet to help me build a sukkah or find one – and then, sometime during the actual week of the holiday I spill my guts and explain why the week brings about so much heartbreak.

I even wrote a poem about it once

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The Lilith Blog

October 8, 2020 by

Clamor in the Desert: A Shelter for Anyone Who Feels Forlorn

We are living in uncertain times. In Argentina, my home, the flights are almost totally suspended and the feeling of confinement and distance becomes more evident.

I am an artist born in this country to Auschwitz survivors. Their story of exile and loss of their homeland, their language, their culture, marked my life and of course my art. I always felt some responsibility to try to renew and make their ancestors’ culture live in their new chosen land. That choice was obviously by default since they arrived in Argentina clandestinely as refugees. 

Thus, borders, migrations and exiles, human rights, and the mother tongue have always been an essential core in my artistic concern, since I consider that art has the gift, but also the commitment to transmit and contribute to the formation of culture and popular thinking. 

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The Lilith Blog

October 5, 2020 by

Stuffed with Abundance and Gratitude

What better way to celebrate the abundance of the harvest than by stuffing vegetables with an abundance of meat, rice, vegetables and fruits! No wonder stuffed foods are a traditional favorite for Sukkot, the festive fall holiday, for Jews from around the world. 

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September 29, 2020 by

Harbor From the Holocaust: The Jews of Shanghai

By Aileen Jacobson

In 1941, Laura Margolis, the American Joint Distribution Committee’s first female field agent, was sent to Shanghai to help the nearly 20,000 Jews who had fled there to escape Nazi Germany’s persecution. In an audacious move, she negotiated with the Japanese officials who controlled Shanghai and was able to secure funds (partly from Russian Jews and other communities who had found shelter in China in previous generations) to build a hospital and expand a soup kitchen. She saw to it that the neediest refugees got at least one meal a day to keep after they were forced, in 1943, into a mile-square area known as the “Shanghai ghetto.” The thousands of Chinese people who already lived there stayed.  

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September 23, 2020 by

Reflecting on the Protests in Portland

Portland is one of the whitest cities in America, with an extremely racist history. So who would have ever thought we would be the city to watch during the modern-day civil rights movement?

The murder of George Floyd changed our country, and it changed Portland. So much so that this week, along with Seattle and NYC, we were designated an “Anarchist jurisdiction” by the Attorney General just this past Monday.

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The Lilith Blog

September 22, 2020 by

Black Jewish Women Artists You Should Know… Rebecca S’manga Frank

Art–whether it be dancing, painting, drawing, film–creates a space for self-examination, helping us to envision possible futures, and better versions of ourselves. And the Jewish month of Elul is traditionally an opportunity for introspection before the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Recognizing the power of art to be transformative, Lilith is highlighting Black Jewish women artists in this time leading up to and through Elul. On Lilith’s platforms you’ll have a chance to experience, share, and celebrate their work.

You can also participate by letting us know (at info@Lilith.org) Black Jewish women creators we should include!

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