Helène Aylon’s Journey From Rebbetzin to Internationally Acclaimed Feminist Artist

Helène Aylon grew up in Borough Park, Brooklyn, in a tight-knit world of Orthodox families. From early on, she was a bit of a rebel, but that didn’t stop her from following the path prescribed for her. At 18, she married a rabbi, and they had two children. Then, when she was just 25, her husband fell ill; she was a widow by 30.

This was in 1960. The assumption then was that a woman in her position would marry her husband’s brother. Instead, Aylon became an artist. Her work, as she explains in a memoir published last year and titled Whatever Is Contained Must Be Released: My Jewish Orthodox Girlhood, My Life as a Feminist Artist, engaged with the liberation movements of her time—women from patriarchy, the colonized from colonizer, the earth from nuclear devastation—until she tackled the ultimate liberation: that of God from man.
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