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Which Lilith?: Feminist Writers
Re-Create The World's First Woman

Edited by Enid Dame, Lilly Rivlin, and Henny Wenkart
and with an Introduction by Naomi Wolfe

[from 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*

[Christine 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]

Who 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.

The 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!

The 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.

Copyright © 2000 by Christine L Reed. All rights reserved.

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