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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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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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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.

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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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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Visitors to the Red Hook, Brooklyn, studio of artist Deborah Ugoretz are greeting by a poster-sized crossword puzzle with the words: “Why didn’t I do more/What more can I do/ Why not do more” in large black letters.

Ugoretz says that she made the piece shortly before the 2016 presidential election. Called My Favorite Crossword Puzzle, this piece contains some squares to remind viewers of the problems that continue to plague planet earth: age discrimination, apathy, child abuse, drug addiction, poverty, racism, human trafficking and overdevelopment, among them.

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via NASA

In March, I was invited to speak at a “Jewish Feminisms” conference, so I tried an experiment: I hauled myself from Denver, Colorado to Ann Arbor, Michigan—all on a long-distance Amtrak train. The journey was 2,460 miles; including delays, it took me over 40 hours to get there and over 35 hours to get back.  

Being on a train for that long was mind-numbingly boring most of the time. I found myself wanting to jump off at several points. There were weird smells, and the food was awful.

And yet, according to this nifty little carbon footprint calculator, taking the train resulted in a carbon footprint of 0.05 metric tons. If I had flown, my carbon footprint for this trip would have been 0.81 metric tons, which is more than 16 times the carbon.

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Two best friends undergo a bitter falling out and a tearful coming back together. But this is no ordinary rapprochement—because one of the women asks her friend to be the surrogate who carries her child. Author Falguni Kothari talks to Lilith’s fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about the complex, delicate nature of such a relationship, and how it set the plot for her new novel in motion.

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 ”Beauty is pain, Rebecca.”

In early 2016, my maternal grandmother, Esther, passed away in her 100th year. Her grandchildren called her “Bubbe,” Yiddish for grandmother. She was a force in life- matriarch of our family, a proud rebbetzin and social worker—and remains a force in death. During significant life moments or times of transition, I often conjure her memory. I think about how she’d vocally disagree with most of my decisions and the pleasure she’d get from explaining why I’m wrong. I know she was proud of me and truly believed that, if only I listened to her, my life would be significantly better.

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Back in the 1970s when I was a graduate student in Paris, I started a couple of traditions for myself. Now, each time I’m in the city I spend some alone time just sitting in the left-bank’s Square René-Viviani just across from Notre Dame Cathedral, and each time I leave Paris I stand on the Petit Pont, toss a coin into the Seine, and promise to return. And return I do, time and again, for short periods and long to the city that has become my second home.

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Nicole Burton’s sweeping first novel, Adamson’s 1969, (Apippa Publishing Company) tells the story of Henry Adamson, a young British immigrant to the U.S. whose arrival coincides with some of the most dramatic political movements and events of the late twentieth century.

It’s 1969, the year of Woodstock, numerous massive anti-war protests, multiple plane hijackings and growing pushback against repressive gender norms. And Adamson—he prefers to be addressed solely by his surname—pays attention to each unfolding event as he is trying to finish high school and figure out the college application process, all of it done without parental counsel.

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