American Jewish Women's History: A Reader

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“It gives me a secret pleasure to observe the fair character our family has in the place by Jews & Christians,“Abigail Levy Franks wrote to her son from New York City in 1733. Abigail was part of a tiny community of Jews living in the new world. In the centuries that followed, as that community swelled to several millions, women came to occupy diverse and changing roles.

American Jewish Women’s History, an anthology covering colonial times to the present, illuminates that historical diversity. It shows women shaping Judaism and their American Jewish communities as they engaged in volunteer activities and political crusades, battled stereotypes, and constructed relationships with their Christian neighbors. It ranges from Rebecca Gratz’s development of the Jewish Sunday School in Philadelphia in 1838 to protest the rising prices of kosher meat at the turn of the century, to the shaping of southern Jewish women's cultural identity through food. There is currently no other reader conveying the breadth of the historical experiences of American Jewish women available.

The reader is divided into four sections complete with detailed introductions. The contributors include: Joyce Antler, Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Alice Kessler-Harris, Paula E. Hyman, Riv-Ellen Prell, and Jonathan D. Sarna.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This anthology conveys the breadth of the historical experiences of American Jewish women.”
-Jewish Advocate

“A vibrant collection of classic and recent essays in American Jewish women’s history that form the perfect starting point toexplore this burgeoning field. From the feminist politics of kosher meat boycotts and garment union organizing to the Jewish dimensions of modern dance and teenage diaries, this readable volume reveals the breadth and excitement of American Jewish women's history.”
-Deborah Dash Moore,co-editor of Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia

“An impressive compendium of essays, American Jewish Women's History paints a broad and diverse portrait of American Jewish women. Written by some of the most incisive historians of the American Jewish community, the chapters examine Jewish women in many different venues: the home and the marketplace, religious and secular institutions, and picket lines and cultural institutions.”
-Deborah E. Lipstadt,Emory University

“It's a thought-provoking book that should be read by women and men alike.”

“Nadell makes explicit the diverse roles and experiences of Jewish women in the United States.”
-History Reviews of New Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814758076
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 4/5/2003
  • Pages: 326
  • Product dimensions: 7.12 (w) x 10.06 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Pamela S. Nadell is Professor of History and Director of the Jewish Studies Program at American University. She is the author of Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women’s Ordination, 1889-1985, which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, and co-editor of Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. I Sense of Place 9
1 Portraits of a Community: The Image and Experience of Early American Jews 13
2 The Lessons of the Hebrew Sunday School 26
3 A Great Awakening: The Transformation That Shaped Twentieth-Century American Judaism 43
4 Gone to Another Meeting: The National Council of Jewish Women, 1893-1993 64
Pt. II Worlds of Difference 75
5 Borrowers or Lenders Be: Jewish Immigrant Women's Credit Networks 79
6 "We Dug More Rocks": Women and Work 91
7 Organizing the Unorganizable: Three Jewish Women and Their Union 100
8 Immigrant Women and Consumer Protest: The New York City Kosher Meat Boycott of 1902 116
9 Zion in Our Hearts: Henrietta Szold and the American Jewish Women's Movement 129
Pt. III A Wider World 151
10 The Jewish Priestess and Ritual: The Sacred Life of American Orthodox Women 153
11 The Women Who Would Be Rabbis 175
12 Budgets, Boycotts, and Babies: Jewish Women in the Great Depression 185
13 Angels "Rewolt!": Jewish Women in Modern Dance in the 1930s 201
Pt. IV Fierce Attachments 219
14 The "Me" of Me: Voices of Jewish Girls in Adolescent Diaries of the 1920s and 1950s 223
15 Rage and Representation: Jewish Gender Stereotypes in American Culture 238
16 "From the Recipe File of Luba Cohen": A Study of Southern Jewish Foodways and Cultural Identity 256
17 Going South: Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement 281
18 Jewish Feminism Faces the American Women's Movement: Convergence and Divergence 297
Contributors 313
Permissions 316
Index 319
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