Lilith at 40 via 40 Jewish feminist objects. Why Jewish teens are giving gun control sermons. Pushing back on policing girls’ bodies. Feminist novels to read, and a problematic memoir. The reasons this convert rejects “Jew by choice.” Four decades of landmark articles— female holiness, coming out in the Orthodox world, the persistent JAP stereotype, bat mitzvah bus sex, and more.  



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40 Feminist Objects

To celebrate Lilith’s 40th anniversary, we asked readers to suggest Jewish feminist items that carry special meaning. Check out the results. And tell us online: What Jewish feminist object would you nominate? 


Exploring and disrupting the terrain where feminism and Jewish life intersect 

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from “Torah as the Matrix for Feminism”

Cynthia Ozick

Cynthia Ozick’s startlingly original essay about Torah as the matrix for feminism: an entirely new way to see the links between feminism and Judaism. [Winter/Spring 1985] 

from “JAP-Baiting on Campus”

Sherry Chayat

Almost 30 years ago, Lilith reported on a swell of graffiti and abusive chants, expressing a pernicious amalgam of misogyny and anti-Semitism. The comprehensive report, worth reading in full, spurred investigations on campuses around the U.S., national TV talk shows, public lectures in Jewish settings and the purging of self-deprecating “JAP” merchandise from synagogue gift shops. [Fall 1987] 

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from “Children Hidden During the Holocaust”

Susan Schnur

A generation of the youngest Holocaust survivors (mostly women) speak.
One by one, they break out of their solitude, feel entitled to call themselves “survivors,” and tell what it means not to know your real name. [Fall 1991] 

from “Jewish Women’s Philanthropy”

Susan Weidman Schneider

All charitable giving intends to change the world for the better. But the female philanthropists profiled here really want to shake things up, so they’re putting their tzedaka right where their personal politics are. [Fall 1993] 

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from “Coming of Age as Iraqi Jew in California”

Loolwa Khazzoom

When Jewish always meant Ashkenazi... [Spring 1996]

from “Maybe I Could Be Like Barbra—GAWJUS!”

Marcy Sheiner

Barbra (unfixed nose & all) gave Jewish female faces, and their owners, a new self-respect. Here’s how one fan worshipped her idol. [Spring 1996] 

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from “Sacred Fuse Box Closet”

Naomi Danis, told to Susan Schnur

Architects have always known that place can affect our feelings of holiness. Now we have clues about how women’s experiences can create a holy space in the cellar of a shul, under a tree, behind a file cabinet, even (despite the objections of men) at the Western Wall. [Summer 1996] 

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from “The Once and Future Womantasch”

Susan Schnur

Celebrating Purim’s full moon as “holy body day.” [Spring 1998] 

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from “All Who Are Hungry”

Ilana Kurshan

Feasting again, a college student uses Passover to celebrate her freedom from the slavery of anorexia. [Spring 2000] 

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from “Jewish Girls and African-American Nannies”

Susan Schnur

Lilith asked readers to dig deep, for the first time, into these experiences. The results are stories of love and complexity. Grown-up Jewish daughters begin to think through the lessons, the gratitude and the guilt of these intensely intimate dyads. [Winter 2002–03] 

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from “They Say ‘It’s Not Sex!'”

Susan Weidman Schneider and Ilana Kramer

But experts call it “an oral sex epidemic.” What do Jewish teen girls think is really going on during those overheated bat and bar mitzvah parties? [Winter 2003–04] 

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from “How Do Women Define the Sacred?”

Rabbi Susan Schnur with Anna Schnur-Fishman

A slew of insights into a different kind of holiness through the bold, idiosyncratic and deeply personal prayer shawls women are creating for themselves. [Fall 2006] 

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from “Women Sing of Family Violence”

Adrienne Cooper with Sarah Mina Gordon

Taking up the tradition of truth-telling in Yiddish music, we hear the dark stories in familiar tunes. [Spring 2011] 

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from “Feminist Funerals”

Amy Stone

Reclaiming the ultimate ritual, some visionary women are taking this ceremonial passage into their own hands. [Summer 2009] 

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from “Deaf Jewish Women Make Themselves Heard”

Chana Widawski

In the magazine’s ongoing commitment to the narratives of often marginalized women, in their own words, a special section on being deaf, Jewish and female introduced women leaders in the Deaf community, the need for signing at all Jewish events, and a surprising bias in the academy. [Spring 2012] 

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from “Analyze THIS”

Susan Schnur

Therapy: Why are Jewish women so heavily represented on both sides of the tissue box? [Winter 2012-2013]

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from “‘Never Tell Anyone’—A Comedienne Breaks Her Family Taboo”

Frannie Sheridan

Her stand-up shtick blows her traumatized family’s “Catholic” cover. Fear and fury ensue. [Fall 2014] 

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Tracking How We Choose to Form Families

Looking for Lilith stories on forming families? Check out this compilation. 

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from “Coming Out in the Orthodox World.” And an Update!

Tamar Prager

One lesbian bridal couple, wanting the blessings both of their parents and of Jewish tradition, managed to meld their religious and gay identities. [Summer 2006] PLUS - The challenge shifts from the deeply personal to the broadly communal: Where does a Jewish and queer family fit? [Fall 2016] 

Fall 2016: Teens and Guns

Heidi Gralla

They're looking out for their own safety now. 

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Fall 2016: First Week of College

Amy Kurzweil

Ardent Pro-Israel Jew? Radical Anti-Zionist Jew? Politically and Culturally Apathetic Jew? Welcome to the identity fair. 


short story by Haviva Ner-David

Life lessons from the mythological Lilith. Betty Friedan on her feminine mystique & being Jewish. Those thorny Jewish women's organizations.

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Fall 2016: Miriam

a poem by Ruth Lehrer

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Fall 2016: I Hate the Label “Jew by Choice”

Amelia Dornbush

One convert’s reflections on “choosing” to be part of the “chosen” people.