Giving Jewish women a voice.
Lilith has chronicled the development of new women's religious rituals and liturgy, reported on the position of women in Israeli life, and regularly addressed women's health issues. Lesbianism is often a particularly difficult issue to deal with in a magazine like Lilith, but it is regularly covered and, indeed, the magazine has served as a "safe space" to raise this issue, along with giving voice to other often marginalized populations within the Jewish community. Lilith also publishes fiction and poetry, as well as thought-provoking reviews of books, films, theater and music.
The topics discussed in Lilith have stimulated a great deal of thinking and, indeed, fostered change within the Jewish community. For example, Cynthia Ozick's article "Notes toward Finding the Right Question: A Vindication of the Rights of Jewish Women" moved the question of women's rights in Judaism from the sacred to the social domain. In so doing, she opened the issue for many who had considered the question in exclusively theological terms.
The issue of so-called JAP-baiting on campus was also brought to the attention of a broad public through the pages of Lilith. An ongoing series by Susan Weidman Schneider has explored the differing ways women and men approach philanthropy. This research has had an impact on the United Jewish Communities-Federation world and on many others seeking to fund Jewish causes. Finally, an issue devoted to hair confronted Jewish women's self-image.
Writers and Vision
The writers range from professional writers to professors to graduate students, and the articles are intended for well-educated laypeople rather than an academic audience. The letters to the editor reveal the breadth of the readership: North America and Israel clearly dominate geographically; many more women than men write letters, and they have a wide range of interests.
Lilith is impelled by a vision that is broader than a magazine. Both within its pages and beyond them, it is clearly attempting to effect fundamental change in Judaism and Jewish society. Thus, for example, the "Kol Ishah" [Woman's voice] section presents short news items of particular interest to Jewish women. "Tsena Rena" [Go out, see] is subtitled "where to go for what if you're Jewish and female." It describes products and programs and includes information about contacting the providers. Each of these features draws its name from a piece of the traditional Jewish past and each challenges the original concept. Both of these features, part of the magazine since its inception, help Lilith foster change in the Jewish community.
Did you like this article? MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.