The Journey Home

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In recent decades, prominent American Jewish women like Bella Abzug and Betty Friedan have made headlines and history, challenging the constraints facing women in American public life. Few realize that these women embody a hundred-year legacy of remarkable activism. From suffrage to birth control, from trade unionism to higher education, from civil rights to feminism to every aspect of popular culture, Jewish women have been in the vanguard, leading key social movements and shaping cultural consciousness. ...
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The Journey Home

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Overview

In recent decades, prominent American Jewish women like Bella Abzug and Betty Friedan have made headlines and history, challenging the constraints facing women in American public life. Few realize that these women embody a hundred-year legacy of remarkable activism. From suffrage to birth control, from trade unionism to higher education, from civil rights to feminism to every aspect of popular culture, Jewish women have been in the vanguard, leading key social movements and shaping cultural consciousness. Anarchists and Zionists, 'sob sister' writers and Supreme Court justices, rabbis and reformers, personalities as diverse as Emma Goldman, Sophie Tucker and Gertrude Stein have left their indelible mark on the American century. Joyce Antler profiles these women leaders in The Journey Home, interweaving social history with brilliant portraiture. In a fresh and lively narrative, she examines the political conflicts and personal tensions that animated their lives as they redefined the landscapes of American culture and society. To change their nation they battled class and gender prejudice, anti-Semitism, and anti-immigrant fervor. They drew sustenance from Jewish tradition but always took independent stands.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This overview of the lives of outstanding American Jewish women from 1890 to the present emphasizes their achievements against the background of their religion. According to Antler (Lucy Sprague Mitchell: The Making of a Modern Woman), the accomplishments of Jewish women have been marginalized in most histories of American life. She has taken 50 women from many backgrounds including literature (Edna Ferber, Gertrude Stein), show business (Sophie Tucker, Fannie Brice), Zionism (Henrietta Szold, Jessie Sampter) and feminism (Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug), and here gives a well-researched and lively portrait of each as well as highlighting their connections to their religion. Antler convincingly argues that Jewish women took activist roles in 20th-century social movements because fighting for justice is part of the Jewish tradition. She also describes how each woman came to terms with having both a female and a Jewish identity. (Mar.)
Library Journal
In this fascinating and persuasive work, Antler (women's studies, Brandeis Univ.) explores the lives of notable 20th-century Jewish American women from Emma Lazarus, Emma Goldman, and Golda Meir to Bella Abzug, Adrienne Rich, and Wendy Wasserstein. Antler traces childhood influences and how each woman rose to her accomplishments. She clearly demonstrates how "a century of impressive achievement nonetheless also chronicles a cross-generational pattern of tension, ambivalence, struggle, and displacement." She emphasizes how Jewish women today are "the most dynamic resource for the survival and continuity of Jewish life in America." She also provides valuable information on lesser-known figures. A seminal study; highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.Marcia G. Welsh, Guilford Free Lib., Ct.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780029007358
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 5/19/1997

Table of Contents

Introduction
Prologue: On the Edge of the Twentieth Century 1
From the Ghetto and Beyond, 1890-1930
1 The Paradox of Immigration 3
Autobiographies of Alienation and Assimilation
Among the Americans
2 "Uptown" Women and Social and Spiritual Reform 40
A Witness for Religion
Withholding Sisterhood
3 Radical Politics and Labor Organizing 73
A New World Upon the Earth
Bread and More Roses
4 The Dream of a Jewish Homeland 98
The Zion in Your Hearts
Pioneer Woman
Wider Worlds, 1930-1960
5 Jewish Women in Popular Culture 136
Red Hot Mamas, Iron Women, and Sob Sisters
The Most Famous Jew in the World
6 Pioneers in the Professions 176
Teacherly Love
Prophetic Justice and Celebrity Zionism
7 Entering the Theatres of the World 203
Fighting Fascism, Building a State
Writers, War, and Witness
8 Imagining Jewish Mothers 233
Cold War Comedies and Tragedies
Creating a Jewish Women's History
Probing the Tradition: Feminism and Judaism, 1960-1996
9 Feminist Liberations 259
First Mothers
The Next Great Moment in History Is Theirs
10 Coming Out as Jewish Women 285
The Feminist Assault on the Academy and Religion
No Longer "Split at the Root"
11 Out of Exile 309
Toward Yavneh
The Jewish Edge
Musical Midrash
Journey Through Darkness
From Rebbetzin to Rebel
Too Jewish?
Chronicles of a Generation
Epilogue: When Daughters Are Cherished 328
A Guide to Archival Collections 335
Notes 337
Acknowledgments 387
Index 391
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