Feminists Find It Inconceivable

--Israeli feminists are protesting a rabbinical court ruling that permitted a 60-year-old man to marry a second time because his first wife did not bear him sons. The man and his wife, 56, have three daughters, ages 20 to 23. The rabbinical court in the Negev desert city of Beersheba ruled that the man deserved another chance to fulfill the biblical injunction to “be fruitful and multiply.” The ruling requires approval by a higher rabbinical court. But lawmakers and at least one major Israeli feminist group have protested the ruling and called for its immediate reversal. “This is a surprising and ludicrous ruling,” said Mordechai Wirshubsky of the centrist Shinui, or Change, Party. “It takes us back thousands of years, and is worthy of the (Ayatollah Ruhollah) Khomeini in Iran.” Masha Lubelski, head of the Naamat women’s organization, said the rabbis have overlooked the man’s own role in determining the sex of his children. Lubelski called the ruling “particularly evil and shocking” and said her organization would give the wife legal help to overturn it.

--"Charlie Two Shoes,” the Chinese farmer befriended as a boy in 1945 by U.S. Marines, said after receiving permission to remain in the United States that he hopes to work as an educator. He now is staying with friends in Tallmadge, Ohio. The 51-year-old farmer, whose real name is Cui Zhixi, has been in the United States since 1983 but had not been permitted to work because of his visitor status. “Now that that prohibition has been lifted, he’s been offered a myriad of opportunities for gainful employment,” said Rep. Bob McEwen (R-Ohio), who had been working to block Cui’s Oct. 10 deportation. On Friday, the Justice Department announced that his deportation would be stayed indefinitely. And Cui’s family--a wife, two sons and a daughter--will be allowed to come to the United States.

-- Writer Norman Mailer paid writer Joyce Carol Oates what he probably considers the ultimate compliment when introducing her at the P.E.N. (International Assn. of Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists and Novelists) Celebration lecture series in New York. He said her recent story in the New York Times Magazine about boxing was so good that “I said to myself, ‘My God, I could have written this piece.’ ” He called it “one of the most creative acts of feminism I’ve ever encountered.” Oates took the dais and smiled, saying: “There’s nothing like that supreme accolade to be told that you write like a man--not just any man, but Norman Mailer.” Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Saul Bellow and Eudora Welty were the guest readers for the night and the audience included actresses Diane Keaton and Jennifer Beals and writers Susan Sontag and Gay Talese.