Nice Jewish Girls: Growing Up in America

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This mixed but mostly marvelous collection of essays, fiction and poetry touches on the issues of being female and Jewish in America. Permeating a number of the pieces is a sense of being "other," whether it's as a Jew in a Christian society (e.g., Kathryn Hellerstein's prep-school bout with the Christmas Chorale) or in one's alienation from tradition or other Jews (e.g., Shira Dicker's tale of a child taunted for belonging to the "wrong" shul). Among the best of this literary congregation of excerpts, reprints and original pieces are Allegra Goodman's fictional account of a woman's far-flung geographic and spiritual journeys; Teresa Weisberg's oral history of a ludicrous wedding during the Depression; Karen Bender's reverie about being inside the Ark with the Torahs; and familiar excerpts by Laura Cunningham, Letty Cottin Pogrebin and Vivian Gornick. There are some weaker works (notably Erica Jong's trite poem) and some omissions: Where, for example, are Cynthia Ozick, Blu Greenberg or Rebecca Goldstein? This may be caviling. As Marks points out in her introduction, many male "archetypes of Jewish womanhood" have been "fatally demeaning." (Think Sophie Portnoy, Brenda Patimkin or Marjorie Morningstar). So, even if this anthology isn't the final word on the experience of Jewish women in America, it is a welcome antidote to the old and a good start. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In this stimulating collection, 40 contemporary women writers discuss the coming-of-age experience of the Jewish girl as she discovers who she is and how she got that way through family, community, and spiritual channels. Marks has gathered essays that allow Judaism to be viewed as much as an attitude toward life as a prescription of faith. While similar anthologies have dwelled on the bitterness Jewish women have felt because of their second-class status, this volume moves on to ask what it is that makes a young woman a Jew. The stories range from the tragic to the humorous, as in Alexandra J. Wall's "The Way We Were," in which a young woman calls on Barbra Streisand to help her accept the physical facts of life. It is never too late to have a coming-of-age experience, as in Letty Cottin Pogrebin's "I Don't Like To Write About My Father." While nearly every Jewish female reader will find herself reflected here, the poignancy of these stories will be felt by readers of all ethnicities.-Marcie S. Zwaik, "Library Journal"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452273979
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/1/1996
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.41 (w) x 8.07 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Shaine Cunningham is a playwright and journalist whose fiction and nonfiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Vogue, and Mirabella, among other publications. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships for her writing and theatrical work, Cunningham divides her time between New York City and her "place in the country."

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Table of Contents

Nice Jewish GirlsIntroduction by Marlene Adler Marks
Part One: "With all your heart..."
Aunt Rose's Child, by Jane Schulzinger Fox
Grinder, by Sharon Pomerantz
In This Country, But in Another Language, My Aunt Refuses to Marry the Men Everyone Wants Her To, by Grace Paley
Comfort, by Jennifer Futernick
Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines, by Amy Bloom
The Secret, by Ilana Girard Singer
Baba, by Susan Terris
Baby-Sitting, by Jane Bernstein
Names, by Jane Yolen
The Get, by Carolyn A. Rogers
Grandma, by Laura Cunningham
Theresa Weisberg's Wedding, As Told to her daughter, Ruth Weisberg

Part Two: "With all your soul..."
Home for Winter, by Marcia Falk
Big White Pushka, by Karen Golden
If Only I'd Been Born a Kosher Chicken, by Jyl Lynn Felman
Kiddush Cup, by L. Schimel
Watchman, What of the Night? by Miriyam Glazer
Shema, the First Prayer You Learn, by S. L. Wisenberg
V'ahavta, by Kaern E. Bender the mourner, by tova
Inside the Ark, by Karen E. Bender
Prayers, by Judith Ungar
A Jewish Education, by Kathryn Hellerstein

Part Three: "With all your might..."
Schmutz, by Sara Nuss-Galles
My Father's Kichel, by Enid Shomer
Down on the Farm, by Shirley Polinsky Fein
I dream of railway stations, by Carol V. Davis
Sephirot, by Dinah Berland
My Grandma Had a Lover, by Carolyn White
The Discovery, by Belinda Cooper

Part Four: "When you lie down, when you rise up..."
The Nose-Fixer, by Persis Knobbe
That's Ridiculous, by Vivian Gornick
The New Girl, by Shira Dicker
Mutatis Mutandis, by Sheila Schwartz
The Way "We" Were, by Alexandra J. Wall
The Wandering Jewess - 20th-Century Style, by Hindi Brooks
Desert Song, by Jori Ranhand
The One Who Receives, by Dina Elenbogen
Blood in the Sand, by Susan Merson
Onionskin, by Allegra Goodman
Sleepwalking Through Suburbia, by Fern Kupfer
Needlepoint, by Erica Jong
Silent Night, by Joan Lipkin
I Don't Like to Write About My Father, by Letty Cottin Pogrebin legacy, by cynthia morse
Macaroni and Cheese, by Marlene Adler Marks

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