Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality: A Sourcebookby Ellen M. Umansky
Much has changed for Jewish women since the first edition of Four Centuries of Jewish Women’s Spirituality appeared in 1992. Associations of Jewish women—academic, religious, secular—have proliferated, making the women’s voices heard. In collecting material for this completely revised edition, the editors drew upon sources that express the diversity of Jewish women, mainly from 1560 to the present. They sought material by Jewish women of different ages, sexual orientations, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, and nationalities. Reflecting a wide variety of literary genres, sources include spiritual works (sermons, addresses, ritual blessing, prayers) as well as letters, sisterhood minutes, and committee reports that also express the spiritual concerns of their authors. Writings by women rabbis and contemporary Orthodox women, along with documents from Latin America, bring the volume up to date.
"It is a paradox of Judaism that a religion that honors such independent and active women should have evolved a code of law that sharply restricts women's independence and activity. True, as Ellen Umansky and Dianne Ashton note in the introduction to their new edition of Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality: A Sourcebook, the role of women in traditional Judaism is hardly peripheral: "Since much of Jewish religious life, including the celebration of the holidays and Shabbat, was home centered, women were undoubtedly aware of the extent to which the continuation of Jewish life depended on them." —The New Republic
"This volume . . . is a valuable window into the spiritual lives of women, past and present. Not all the extracts in the volume are by Orthodox or traditional women, and the variety, particularly in the modern period, shows the diversity of contemporary Jewish religious life and the wide range of spiritual paths being taken by Jewish women." —JOFA
"It is always exciting to read original sources, for they allow the reader to "hear" the actual words of the writer. Ellen Umansky and Dianne Ashton . . . have organized just such an anthology with brief selections from the work of almost one hundred female authors who have dramatically shaped Jewish women's spirituality over the past four hundred years."—Jewish Book World
"This book offers a mother lode of material that will interest ordinary Jewish women and spiritual seekers, as well as religious scholars. The book is a perfect choice to sit down with on an afternoon before or during the High Holiday period." —Jewish Woman
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Meet the Author
ELLEN M. UMANSKY is Carl and Dorothy Bennett Professor of Judaic Studies, Department of Religious Studies, Fairfield University. DIANNE ASHTON is Professor of Religion and Director of the American Studies Program at Rowan University.
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