The Jewish Woman in Contemporary Society: Transitions and Traditions

Overview

What does it mean to be a Jewish woman today? To an Orthodox woman, it means living a religious way of life in which serving God totally defines her self-perception and her role as wife and mother. For the secular woman, it means having a sense of belonging, although not necessarily to a specific Jewish community. Most contemporary Jewish women fall somewhere in between, but at the core of all of their identities is a complex interweaving of religious and ethnic elements, a shared history, and a collective memory...

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1993 Hardcover 081471210X. Brand New;

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Overview

What does it mean to be a Jewish woman today? To an Orthodox woman, it means living a religious way of life in which serving God totally defines her self-perception and her role as wife and mother. For the secular woman, it means having a sense of belonging, although not necessarily to a specific Jewish community. Most contemporary Jewish women fall somewhere in between, but at the core of all of their identities is a complex interweaving of religious and ethnic elements, a shared history, and a collective memory of periods of prejudice, persecution, wandering, and resettlement.

Focusing on Jewish women in the United States and Britain, Adrienne Baker examines such issues as women's role in religious law, the spectrum of synagogue observance, the mother's role as conveyor of tradition, conversion and inter- faith marriages, and sexuality. In particular, the book examines the impact of feminism on Jewish women and their culture, uncovering the counterinfluences of tradition and new freedoms on women's lives.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814712108
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1993
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 60.00 (w) x 90.00 (h) x 7.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Adrienne Baker is a lecturer in Women's Studies at Birkbeck College, London University, and Director and Tutor in Counselling at Regent's College, London. She is also a member of the Chief Rabbi's working party researching issues of concern to Jewish women.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgements
Introduction 1
I The Cultural Background 7
1 Setting the Scene 9
Jewish immigration into Britain 9
The American incoming 12
On being an immigrant 14
Ashkenazim and Sephardim 16
Demography: facts and fears 23
II Women and Judaism 33
2 Women's Role in Judaism 35
'Blessed art thou...Who hast not made me a woman' 35
Woman's rightful realm 35
Images and stereotypes 41
3 Religious Law 45
Women's status 45
Prayer 48
Religious study 50
Divorce 54
Agunah, the 'anchored woman' 58
Can the law change? 61
4 The Religious Scene 65
America 66
Britain 74
Ritual 86
The secular Jew 92
What does it mean to me, being a Jewish woman? 97
5 Aspects of Onhodoxy 102
The ultra-Orthodox 102
The Chassidim 108
The ba'alot t'shuva: women who 'return' to strict Orthodoxy 115
III Family Life 121
6 The Jewish Woman at Home 123
The Jewish family in history 124
The daughter's apprenticeship 125
Myths 132
Food 135
Handing on tradition 143
7 Marriage, Childbearing and Sexuality 147
The meaning of marriage 147
Choosing a partner and the wedding ceremony 150
The marital relationship and the Laws of Family Purity 155
'Be fruitful and multiply' 158
Sexual morality 163
Staying single 164
Lesbianism 166
8 Areas of Difficulty 172
Intermarriage 172
Conversion 175
Family breakdown and domestic violence 179
Single parent families 183
Women as carers 186
IV Areas of Change 189
9 Changing Perspectives 191
Secular education 191
Voluntary work 194
Jobs and careers 196
10 Feminism 204
Within the family 205
Within religion 206
Woman's legal status in relation to divorce and agunah 207
Feminism and Zionism 209
Ambivalence and change 212
Bibliography 216
Index 224
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