Jewish Feminism. Read all about it! Lilith has been around since 1976 and Shtetl spoke with Editor-in-Chief Susan Weidman Schneider to find out what they cover in the magazine and why Jewish feminism is still relevant.
Weidman Schneider grew up in Winnipeg and moved to the States where she became a driving force of Jewish feminist media. Under her stewardship Lilith has covered everything from nose jobs (yay or nay?), to Jewish women’s attraction to psychotherapy, to sketchy encounters with rabbinic authorities, to a Jewish take on reproductive rights. In the early days, feminists were asking Jewish women why they didn’t just walk away from a tradition that is patriarchal, excludes women, and has male-centered religious texts. Lilith, (whose namesake is the sassy woman who came before Eve and was expelled from the garden for wanting equal pay and free access to G-spot vibrators) was an answer to this question!
Here’s another question. Have you ever referred to someone as a JAP? We asked Weidman Shneider how she feels about this descriptor of the Jewish woman. (Click on this short audio clip for her answer.)
Lilith covers taboo subjects such as violence and incest in Holocaust survivor families, rabbinic misconduct and Jewish women’s relationship to their (often African American) nannies. Gender identity is a hallmark of their coverage. You think Simone de Beauvoir was opinionated on gender issues? Check out what the Talmud has to say.
Lilith has never shied away from controversial issues. Weidman Schneider explains their approach to tricky issues like girls and sex at bar/bat mitzvas.
Food stamps and welfare. In this age of the supposed ubiquity of the rich Jew, Lilith has found a space for talking about Jewish women and poverty.
Everyday at the Lilith offices they have a potluck lunch. (Every day!!) From senior staff to new interns- ideas are thrown around. And of course, unexpected themes emerge. One meeting revealed that there is more to the subject of Jewish hair than Samson and the Jewfro.
Speaking of hair, we have an alternative game to “rock, paper, scissors!”. In the wake of Purim our game is: “Hats, pastries, vaginas!”. (Click on this next clip to play!)
A lot has changed since 1976 and Lilith continues to publish innovative content. “We take for granted that women can be rabbis, can read from the Torah, can lead their congregations,” says Weidman Schneider. “And now we’re saying, who are going to be the visionaries that are transforming the next step.”
Ladies and gentlemen…I think she might be talking about you!
Lilith has a brand new website and subscribers get access to the past 36 years of content plus all the new stuff. Want to win a free subscription to Lilith magazine for a year, answer our Shtetl question: Lena Dunham’s tv show Girls: Feminist or not? Lilith is giving away a few subscriptions to Shtetl readers. Contest ends April 15th. Answer away and get your name in the draw!
Audio interview for this story is by Sharron Mirsky- a radio enthusiast, aspiring filmmaker and animator and a producer for Shtetl on the Shortwave. Text is by Tamara Kramer.