Bridges: A Journal for Jewish Feminists and Our Friends
Drawing on the traditional Jewish values of justice and repair of the world and insights honed by the feminist, lesbian and gay movements, seven Jewish women began to publish Bridges: A Journal for Jewish Feminists and Our Friends in 1990.
Bridges evolved from a nationally distributed Jewish feminist newsletter called Gesher [Hebrew for “bridge”] started in 1988 by Ruth Atkin and Adrienne Rich for the National Feminist Task Force of New Jewish Agenda. Atkin, Rich, Elly Bulkin and Clare Kinberg—all previously editors of lesbian or Jewish feminist publications—with Rita Falbel, Ruth Kraut and Laurie White, began publishing Bridges as an editorially independent journal of fiction, poetry, essays, visual art and reviews. By 1996, the eight-member core editorial group included women from the United States and Canada. Bridges has a circulation of three thousand. Bound like a book, with a spine wide enough to contain the periodical’s name, issue number and publication date, each volume is designed to have a permanent place on bookshelves.
Bridges is an explicitly Jewish participant in a multiethnic feminist movement. It connects Jewish women who are active in antiracist, economic justice, peace, lesbian/gay and Jewish renewal movements; integrates analyses of racism and classism into Jewish-feminist thought; and makes connections across generations, countries and languages by publishing archival material and writing in different Jewish languages and in translation. It publishes substantive essays on such topics as campus organizing, the Holocaust, Jewish women’s rituals, incest, dis/ability and Israel and Palestine. Bridges also publishes work by men and non-Jewish women of particular relevance to its focus.
Among Bridges’ key contributions has been its insistence on the multiplicity of Jewish experiences and identities within a context that values different voices, histories and languages. Although most contributors are Ashkenazi Jews, Bridges readers have read the words of Sephardic Jews Rita Arditti and Loolwa Khazzoom; Latina Jews Marjorie Agos’n (Chile), Ruth Behar (Cuba), Renée Epelbaum (Argentina) and Aurora Levins Morales (Puerto Rico); and several Jews by choice. The pages of Bridges have contained translations–alongside the original–of contemporary writing (the Hebrew poetry of Dalia Ravikovitch; Yiddish fiction by Blume Lempel) and archival writings (Yiddish fiction and poetry by Yente Serdatzky, Kadia Molodowsky, Abraham Sutzkever and others), as well as an article by Irena Klepfisz on women thinkers and activists from the Yiddish world of Eastern Europe.
Bridges provides a rare space in the Jewish community: one where lesbian and working-class voices can be heard consistently, heterosexual and middle/upper-class identities are not viewed as norms and dialogues can appear between allies—lesbian and heterosexual, poor/working-class and middle/upper-class. From the outset, Bridges has featured work by Jewish lesbians, including Christie Balka, Joan E. Biren (JEB), Elana Dykewomon, Marcia Freedman and Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz. Bridges has increasingly addressed issues of class. It added a “Working Class Words” column as a regular feature, coordinated by Tova, and published a special section (“Making Our Lives Visible: Poor and Working-Class Women Speak Out”) that included discussions of cost sharing, class and race, red diaper babies and other topics.
Bridges had made a distinct contribution both to the feminist and the Jewish presses. In aiming to publish materials of durable quality and interest, it has become an ongoing, twice-yearly anthology of politics, art, history and spiritual concerns.