Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

University Acquires Archives of Lilith Magazine

March 24, 2015

By Jarret Bencks

The Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections at Brandeis University has acquired a collection of materials from Lilith, a Jewish feminist magazine co-founded in 1976 by Susan Weidman Schneider ’65.

The archives of Lilith, which describes itself as “independent, Jewish & frankly feminist,” include interview notes, edited articles, original letters to the editor and other submissions that were never published, photographs, ephemera like early feminist hagadas and conference programs, plus documents from the founding of the magazine, an early, innovative nonprofit venture that has been publishing continuously for nearly four decades, documenting the women’s movement and gender issues in Jewish life.

“These archives are a significant research collection and will form the cornerstone of an expanding collections focus on Jewish women and contemporary Jewish feminism,” said Sarah Shoemaker, associate university librarian for archives & special collections. “Many of our researchers have a keen interest in subjects related to Judaism and women’s history and roles, and the Lilith material is a wonderful trove for scholarship in these areas.” The collection will be supplemented periodically with updated contributions from Lilith, which is headquartered in New York City.

The acquisition of the archives was made possible thanks to a generous gift from Elaine Reuben ’63.

The quarterly magazine has charted the dramatically changing roles of women in Jewish life and leadership, both religious and secular. Lilith has both documented these changes and spurred many of them through its investigative reporting and first-person accounts, fiction, poetry and art.

Joyce Antler, Samuel J. Lane Professor Emerita of American Jewish History and Culture and Professor Emerita of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, is working on a book on women’s liberation and Jewish identity, and has used Lilith’s back issues for reference. The magazine has consistently provided in-depth coverage of Jewish feminist issues in their earliest stages, she said.

“Lilith is an important place to go if you want to know anything about the story of how Jewish women have participated in the world since 1976,” she said. “It provides a marvelous window to the Jewish community, the feminist community, and has always presented news, opinions, and ideas from diverse perspectives. It’s an archival gold mine.”

The unpublished papers and records from the magazine will provide valuable insight into the viewpoints during that time, how changes happened and how they were received, according to Weidman Schneider, the magazine's editor-in-chief since its inception.

“For researchers who are looking back at that era, and who are keeping an eye on what’s to come, the archives will provide a detailed look into numerous issues and movements,” Weidman Schneider said. “I'm very pleased they will reside at Brandeis, where students from so many academic departments and programs will find these holdings relevant. I’m thinking not only about women’s studies and Judaic studies, but also Jewish communal studies, nonprofit management, investigative journalism and more.”