A groundbreaking history of how Jewish women maintained their identity and influenced social activism as they wrote themselves into American history.
What does it mean to be a Jewish woman in America? In a gripping historical narrative, Pamela S. Nadell weaves together the stories of a diverse group of extraordinary people—from the colonial-era matriarch Grace Nathan and her great-granddaughter, poet Emma Lazarus, to labor organizer Bessie Hillman and the great justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to scores of other activists, workers, wives, and mothers who helped carve out a Jewish American identity.
The twin threads binding these women together, she argues, are a strong sense of self and a resolute commitment to making the world a better place. Nadell recounts how Jewish women have been at the forefront of causes for centuries, fighting for suffrage, trade unions, civil rights, and feminism, and hoisting banners for Jewish rights around the world. Informed by shared values of America’s founding and Jewish identity, these women’s lives have left deep footprints in the history of the nation they call home.
Pamela S. Nadell is the Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender History and director of Jewish studies at American University. Her books include America's Jewish Women and Women Who Would Be Rabbis, a National Jewish Book Award finalist. She lives in North Bethesda, Maryland.
Table of Contents
1 "Many are the blessings I partake of": America's Early Jewish Women 9
2 "Mothers in Israel": The American Jewesses 55
3 "A new kind of Jewess": Eastern European Jewish Women in America 109
4 "Woman is looking around and ahead": Wider Worlds 157
5 "Down from the pedestal… up from the laundry room": Into the Future 217