Spring 1995

A special section on hair: wigs, upsherin, self-definition, minorities, Jewish law, and what it means to have Jewish hair.  A rediscovery of two matriarchs, Zilpha and Bilha.

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In This Issue

Lilith Feature

Hair and Desire

A gleaning of poems by Yehuda Amichai, Nancy Botter, Siv Cedaring Fox, Sharon Olds, Layle Silber and Maxine Silverman

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Running the Numbers


Lilith's back page presents a sampling of current statistics. Crunch on these numbers and decide whether to use them as weapons or as tools for change.

Four Matriarchs? Make that Six


A rediscovery of two of our "pink collar" foremothers

Two Monologues


In this story--one of Lilith's occasional features one role models--a pair of biblical sisters yearn for each other. Here's what the Book of Genesis leaves out!

Trans-gressive Hair: The Last Frontier


Jennifer Miller's courage t be herself, facial hair and all, constructs for us a whole new way of understanding otherness, and ourselves too. Hair: The last frontier.

Hair, O Israel: Jewish Wig Laws


Scholar Haviva Krasner-Davidson helps us tease apart the tangled strands of Jewish law concerning women's hair. Hair and the Rabbis.

I’m Letting it Grow


Mother, I’m letting it grow,enjoying letting it grow—the thick brown hairson my thighsyou made me shavefor beaches and parades.I’m letting it grow. Ma,dark and curling as creeping ivyto see if there’s a man alivewho’ll have the gutsto walk with me in shortsdown streets, in public places.And if there’s not—I’ll dye it blackand grow it thick... Read more »

Dead Women


returnto brushtheir hair.They use our combs,careful riot to breakthe teeth.They borrow our brushes,leaving a trace of hairin the bristles.They enter our bedsto feel the warmth of a manthey have almost forgotten,but not forgotten.They try on our gloves and softscarves.They try on our nightgownsand turn slowlyin front of the mirror.In the morning we wake,smooth out the... Read more »

Brushing Out My Daughter’s Hair


Brushing out my daughter’s dark silken hair before the mirror I see the gray gleaming on my head, the silver-haired servant behind her. Why is it just as we begin to go they being to arrive, the fold in my neck clarifying as the fine bones of her hips sharpen? As my skin shows its... Read more »

Ballad of the Washed Hair


The stones on the mountain are alwaysawake and white.In the dark town, angels on dutyare changing shifts.A girl who has washed her hairasks the hard world, as if it were Samson,where is it weak, what is its secret.A girl who has washed her hairputs new clouds on her head.The scent of her drying hair isprophesying... Read more »



Ardently down the backs of cousins in Poland until it brushed their ribs the silkworm cousins grew the hair Sarah Fish off Silverman peddled in Missouri. In Sedalia meager enterprising waves swelled over coils and switches off Polish Jews, hair grown to drape on Sarah’s forearm. She walked the town selling hair of those who... Read more »



Friday morningI braid my hairin front of the mirrorcannot see behind my headthink of braidsI might have madeon a Friday morningkneading doughseparating it into strands& braiding theminto a crownround as a roseas only our village didfor Sabbath breadthe whole world would knowhere is a challah from Telstaste it

Hair Apparent: Considering Ultra-Orthodoxy at 17


Susan Josephs, as a 17-year old, considers and rejects ultra-Orthodoxy because of—hair! Hair and self-definition.

Blond Braids at Auschwitz


Having her hair cut off as she enters the concentration camp has a curious effect—-the burden of individuality is lifted. Hair, shaved.

“As an Adopted Child, All I Wanted was Real Jewish Hair”


Randy Milden, an adopted daughter, struggles with hair that "couldn’t possibly be Jewish." Hair and difference.

Gender-Bending and an Ancient Jewish Custom


Upsherin, a traditional haircutting ceremony for ultra-religious little boys, provokes feminist questions. Hair and ritual.

The Shaytl & Susan B. Anthony


In which the author’s mother contemplates casting off her traditional wig. Hair and subjugation.



Holocaust Memoir I am pleased that LILITH shared my “Simple Story” with readers [Women’s Holocaust Memoirs, Winter ’94], however Susan Schnur’s editing altered the meaning of two sentences. “My father and I never grew close” is not an accurate description. It’s true, we didn’t have as open a communication as I would have liked. For example,... Read more »

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