Lilith?: Feminist Writers
Re-Create The World's First Woman
by Enid Dame, Lilly Rivlin, and Henny
with an Introduction by Naomi Wolfe
Jason Aronson Press:Northvale NJ and Jerusalem, © 1998.ISBN.0-7657-6015-0,
413 pp.Hardcover. Website: www.aronson.com
Reviewed by Christine L.Reed, as Wise
Women's Web *Recommended Reading*
L. Reed edits and publishes Maelstrom.She
is also the Managing Editor for Moondance
and has published online with Conspire, Zuzu's Petals
Quarterly, Recursive Angel, Kimera and many other publications]
was Lilith--that mysterious legendary figure so associated with
death and dark powers? Eve was not Adam's first wife. That honor
belonged to Lilith. But, when Adam tried to dominate her, she
uttered God's secret name and flew away. She is written of in
the Talmud and whispered about in folk tales passed from mother
to daughter down thorugh the ages. Who was she really? This new
anthology presents essays, short stories and poetry written by
Jewish women authors who explore this mystery--never before effectively
addressed in the sinister and conflicting accounts which have
been passed along to us primarily by men.The pieces included in
this collection search for the truth, attempt to pin a clearer
identity on Lilith and penetrate her thinking. A better team of
editors could not have been chosen for this collection. Enid Dame,
Lilly Rivlin and Henny Wenkart bring with them their expertise
in women's and Jewish literary themes and use it to assemble a
diverse and provocative body of work. The question of Lilith is
attacked from every angle by this unique group of women with a
drive for understanding one of the most controversial female archetypes.
book opens with an introduction by Naomi Wolf who has been called
the "grande dame" of young feminism in the 90's after
the success of her 1991 book, The Beauty Myth.Wolf postulates
about the psyche's of women looking for a heroine, someone strong
and independent as role model, to help ditch the role of "selfless
homemaker". Well, it's about time!
stories essays and poems run the gauntlet, showing us Lilith through
a prism: some by historical accounts and interpretations of scripture;
others, by bringing Lilith into modern day scenarios:
"She stops and turns to Adam:'This is the late twentieth
century' she says to him, 'how can you allow those primitive types
to decide what's going to happen to us?'
Adam gives his Machiavellian smile:'They're not deciding what's
going to happen to us. You are.'
Lilith doesn't bother to ask him what he means. She has to go
to her lawyer.".... [from "Lilith's Divorce" by
Naomi Gal, trns.by Suzy Shabetai, p.95]
These writers CREATIVELY personify our most coveted traits into
a one woman legend embued with
equality, strength and satisfied sexuality:
"Lilith stopped her.
'My juice is sweeter' she whispered,
'and my flesh will teach much more.'
She pulled Eve gently down on top of her,
slid her tongue across her eyelids,
the tongue which could beat so fast
in the right places."..... [from "In The Garden"
by Susan Gold p.199]
And, there seems always to be an understandable undertone of resentment
concerning what woman could have been if she were only allowed
her birthright through the ages--equality? With so many varying
interpretations of the meaning of Lilith as a legendary figure,
we may not come to a conclusion as to who Lilith really was, but,
perhaps, that's the very point. Lilith is someone different to
all women and men who behold her.Yet, for all of us, she comes
out on top-- a champion. Living in exile? Maybe. But, at least,
she has her dignity. Isn't that what we all want?
While reading this collection stirred up a real contempt for ancient
scribes, who seemingly concocted myths designed to suppress women
and 'keep them under control,' I am grateful that we have come
to a place where we feel comfortable and empowered to challenge
them and the images of women they provided. The existence of a
book like this one proves how far we've come. Which Lilith?
is a shining example of women's strength and creativity and should
be treasured by women of all faiths.
© 2000 by Christine L Reed. All rights reserved.