Editor’s Page

Summer 2007

Dear Readers:

What’s in one little word? A lot, we’ve learned.

When we started Persimmon Tree, we called it an online magazine for older women. All of our publicity announced it that way.

But recently I was with some friends in their forties, showing them the Persimmon Tree website. “What about us?” they asked. “It looks great, but we won’t read it if it’s only for older women.” That took me aback. I said they were welcome to subscribe to the magazine, but clearly they had a point.

Obviously we’d made a misstep. We had positioned ourselves as a literary magazine for older women. But our mission was to promote the work of women over sixty to a wider audience, and this wouldn’t happen if the magazine was perceived as being just for us.

The next day, before I had a chance to mention this at our contributing editors meeting, the issue arose. “We should work on attracting younger readers,” Sandra Butler said. Everyone agreed, but the question was how to do it.

The answer came in about thirty seconds. “Let’s change our name,” Chana Bloch suggested. “We could make Persimmon Tree an online magazine by older women instead of for older women.” We embraced this idea, realizing that changing one little word would signal that the magazine was there for everyone to enjoy. This would be a first step in welcoming younger readers; others would follow.

Starting an online literary magazine is a major project, requiring constant revision. It also needs all the help it can get. You, our readers, are extremely important inPersimmon Tree‘s success.

More than anything, we depend on you to help us promote the magazine to people of all ages. You can do this by sending out the website address to your email lists and everyone you can think of. Put a link to the magazine on your own website, or tell us about appropriate websites where we can arrange a link. Let people know about the magazine’s existence—it’s a gift to them and a great help to us.

Finally, I’d like you to know about Persimmon Tree‘s official launch at Mills College on March 15th. What a grand day that was! Gloria Steinem was lecturing on campus and the crowds were huge. During a special reception (see photo below) I spoke about the magazine, and at the appropriate moment the homepage website, in all its persimmon-orange glory, burst onto an overhead screen. At first people didn’t know what to do—then they loudly began to clap. What a thrill this launch was for all of us who worked hard to bring Persimmon Tree into being. We are enormously grateful to Mills College for so generously supporting the magazine in this way.

Warm regards,
Nan Fink Gefen
Editor, Persimmon Tree


Persimmon Tree launch: (left to right) Marcia Freedman; Sandy Boucher; Chana Bloch; Martha Boesing; Nan Gefen; Gloria Steinem; Janet Holmgren (Mills College president); Sandra Butler


Nan Fink Gefen was the founding publisher of Tikkun magazine in 1985 and the founding editor of Persimmon Tree magazine in 2007. She is the author of Stranger in the Midst (Basic Books, 1997) and Discovering Jewish Meditation (Jewish Lights, 2nd edition 2011), and her fiction and nonfiction pieces have appeared in literary journals and magazines. She currently is working on a novel, Woman on a Wire.