- From the Editors
After nearly twenty years of editing Bridges, I am still enthralled with the privilege of working with the journal’s contributors, most often women I’ve never met who offer, with no material compensation, their engaged time, thoughtfulness and creativity. For this issue we solicited several pieces; other manuscripts arrived unannounced in Bridges inbox demonstrating how Jewish feminists are working and writing and wanting to connect with others. May that continue!
I became aware at about the same time as writer Michele Alperin that Ms. magazine had declined to publish an advertisement promoting Israel sent to them by the American Jewish Congress. I first heard about the controversy this sparked on the Israeli Feminist Forum email list [email@example.com]; Alperin first heard about it when she was asked by the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance to send a protest letter to Ms. The issue really caught me, as I eventually wrote in a letter to the Forward: “While some have called this controversy between two iconic organizations of the feminist and Jewish communities a tempest in a teapot, it is the teapot from which I drink.” Alperin does a terrific job of capturing the many different Jewish feminist takes on the topic while investigating her own reactions, discovering along the way—to her surprise—that her initial response to images of Israel is formed by the almost subconscious imperative question, Does this make Israel look “good” or “bad?” Between fear, defensiveness, protectiveness, and chauvinism on one hand and disappointment, anger, and fear on the other, can we ever look at images of Israel without trying to determine what they project vis a vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which “side” they seem to take? Of course, the [End Page 1] question itself is a dead end. The complexity and contradictions of reality may be fearsome, but the propaganda wars are toxic.
When in March 2008, Rita Mendes-Flohr in Jerusalem sent me a dozen images from Antea Gallery: A Space for Women’s Art at Kol HalIsha, the Jerusalem women’s center, I felt immensely grateful—for her work, for feminist artists, for Israeli and Palestinian women who refuse to give up. As Bridges is an activist literary journal, Antea is an activist art gallery that seeks to bring feminist, multi-cultural issues to public discussion. Please visit their website [ http://albums.phanfare.com/1368158/2249314 ], and visit them when you are in Jerusalem.
In December 2007, a past contributor to Bridges, Wendy Kenin, sent me a press release she had written about indigenous communities along the Texas-Mexico border resisting a new “security barrier” being built by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Our ensuing conversations developed into an article that touches on many aspects of borders and walls, and the beauty of learning across differences. Serendipitously, Bridges received two more pieces on other borders and walls: Lara Doan’s creative piece “Chocolate Covered Matza,” and Lolette Kuby’s memoir “The Last Communist in the United States.” This work might only be brought together with a piece on the U.S.-Mexico border wall (and the security barrier in Israel/Palestine as well) here in the pages of Bridges.
The conversation between Amy André and Nzinga Koné-Miller on their identities as African-American Jewish women updates and adds new dimension to themes raised in Bridges’ special issue by Jewish women of color published in 2001. The growth of Be’chol Lashon (In Every Tongue), the San Francisco Bay Area-based organization through which André and Koné-Miller first met, is a vibrant influence for recognition of the diversity of the Jewish community. We are grateful to Be’chol Lashon for sharing their beautiful photographs.
The activism of young Jewish women, in both hands-on social justice organizing and in progressive policy development is further explored in a conversation among the Jewish Funds for Justice Cornerstone Award recipients and JFJ director Stosh Cotler. Rachel Auerbach’s Warsaw Ghetto soup kitchen memoirs are sobering as they are lyrical. We are pleased to be able to publish the Yiddish along with Seymour Levitan’s introduction and translations. As always, the poetry and fiction in Bridges...