Feminism in Jewish Fables, Folkore, and Legend

Bridges Volume 15.1 is a special issue on “Fables, Folklore and Legend” and is packed with new feminist spins on some of the oldest and most timeless stories in Jewish literature.

The issue opens with Agi Legutko’s essay on dybbuk possession legends and the creativity let loose in their transformation by contemporary Jewish women writers in the novels of E. M. Broner, Francine Prose, Judith Katz, Pearl Abraham, and Ruth Knafo Setton. These stories of transmigrating souls are followed by stories of the soulless golem and Simone Yehuda’s modern fairy tale of a pregnant golem named Rasa who seeks a “soul voice.” As Yehuda does a riff on the connections between women’s ability/inability to give birth and the Talmudic statement, “A woman [before marriage or childbirth] is a golem,” Heather Mendel’s “Transforming Divinity, Transforming Ourselves” looks deeply into the Garden of Eden story to reveal Eve as representing the innate and necessary curiosity humans need to experience the miracle of life (www.dancinginthefootstepsofeve.com.

From Mendel’s teaching on the mythical Garden, readers move to Darlene Miller-Lanning’s essay on the artist Berenice D’Vorzon’s vibrantly painted divine “gardens” in nature and then to Henrietta Bensussen’s tour of very real gardens in Europe. Berenice Fisher’s family legend of her mother’s visit to a rose garden in Iraq, in 1930, is at the heart of her one women play about women’s agency in war and peace activism. Finally, the ability of folklore and legend to speak to each of us individually is powerfully represented in Zelda Kahan Newman’s short story about a raven visiting a synagogue on Yom Kippur.