©Phyllis Holman Weisbard, 1997, 2008
An earlier version of the original bibliography is also found on pages 1553-1586 (v. 2) of Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Paula E. Hyman and Deborah Dash Moore, and sponsored by the American Jewish Historical Society. 2 v. New York, Routledge, 1997.
This bibliography concentrates on books, chapters in anthologies, and periodical articles on the collective history of American Jewish women and archival resources on individuals and women's organizations. While much relevant information can be found in publications from collateral branches of American history, focusing on women, labor, immigrants, radicals, ethnicity, organizations, the early twentieth century working class and the mid-century middle class, as well as American literature, women's studies, and studies of local Jewish communities and other aspects of American Jewish history, these can only be hinted at below. The database America: History and Life is the principal index to the periodical literature in American history. For coverage of Jewish communal studies and other relevant research in American Jewish history, consult Judaica Americana: An Annotated Bibliography of Publications From 1960-1990, by Nathan M. Kaganoff (Brooklyn, NY: Carlson: 1995), compiled from columns by Kaganoff that appeared in American Jewish History; the "Judaica Americana" column since 1994, compiled by Jonathan D. Sarna; and Judaica Americana: A Bibliography of Publications to 1900, by Robert Singerman (New York: Greenwood, 1990); as well as Index to Jewish Periodicals (Cleveland: 1963- , print and online publication). Similarly, the recent outpouring on contemporary Jewish women's lives, writings, and role in American Judaism are beyond the scope of this bibliography. Developments in this area are best followed by reading Lilith: The Independent Jewish Magazine, Bridges: A Journal for Jewish Feminists and Our Friends, Hadassah Magazine, and denominational periodicals aimed at women. The view from women's studies can be traced by using Women Studies Abstracts (New York: Rush Publishing Company (1972-present), and online within Women's Studies International database (Baltimore: NISC, 1995-present), Feminist Periodicals: A Current Listing of Contents (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin System Women's Studies Librarian, 1980-present), and other indexes to the field in print and online. Material on individual women is not generally listed in this bibliography.
The bibliography begins with annotated entries for books, followed by a section of articles published in periodicals and anthologies. In general, articles are not listed that were subsequently incorporated into books described in the first section. A third section covers collective works that sample the autobiographical and creative writings and record the oral histories of Jewish women since their arrival in America. Major archival resources are described in the last section.
See also the 1997-2008 Supplement to the Annotated Bibliography.
Antler, Joyce. The Journey Home: Jewish Women and the American Century. New York: Free Press, 1997. 410 p.
Recounts the lives of more than fifty high achievers involved in major public issues of the twentieth century: immigration, social reform, political radicalism, Zionism, emergence of popular culture, professionalism, internationalism, Cold War culture and politics, feminism, and postfeminism. Antler weaves a social history from the fabric of women's lives, From iconoclastic American Jewess editor Rosa Sonneschein to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who accepted nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court by saying she hoped to be all her mother would have been had she been born in an age when women could aspire and daughters were cherished as much as sons. Each of these accomplished writers, activists, and entertainers had to confront the Jewish, American, and female aspects of her identity, and they arrived at different resolutions. Antler asserts that Jewish feminism has made it possible for many Jewish women to be both assertively Jewish and imbued with a feminist consciousness. This is a lively cross-over book that can be read and enjoyed both by scholars and general readers.
Balka, Christie and Andy Rose, eds. Twice Blessed: On Being Lesbian, Gay, and Jewish. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989. 305 p.
Part Two, "Reclaiming Our History," includes an oral history by Jeffrey Shandler of Gerry Faier, a great-grandmother who was involved with the gay liberation movement of the 1970s and at the time of the interview was active with SAGE (Senior Action in a Gay Environment). The interview reveals her personal devotion to her Jewish cultural heritage. Other essays in this section cover new ways to approach traditional Jewish texts and the absence of lesbian and gay experience from recorded Jewish history.
Baskin, Judith R., ed. Women of the Word: Jewish Women and Jewish Writing. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994. 382 p.
A companion to Jewish Women in Historical Perspective (1991), also edited by Baskin, this volume explores the lives of women in different times and places through literature. Many deal with American Jewish writers. Norma Fain Pratt provides an abridged and somewhat altered version of her article originally published in American Jewish History and reprinted in Decades of Discontent recovering the names and work of over fifty Yiddish women writers. The meagre number of poets and poems by women in the canonical anthology Finf Hundert Yor Yidishe Poezye [Five Hundred Years of Yiddish Poetry], by M. Bassin, 1917 are compared by Kathryn Hellerstein to the seventy poets and range of poetry found in Yidishe Dikhterins: Antologye [Yiddish Women Poets: An Anthology], by Ezra Korman, 1928. Janet Burstein examines three women's writings from the 1920s (Rebekah Kohut's autobiography My Portion , Elizabeth G. Stern's fictive memoir I am a Woman -- and a Jew , and Emanie Sach's novel Red Damask  ) that bring the experience of the mother to center stage, and Laura Wexler demonstrates why Anzia Yezierska deserves to be better known. Sarah Blacher Cohen calls Cynthia Ozick a "prophet of parochialism," while Carole S. Kessner probes the zealous identification with the Jewish people exhibited by Emma Lazarus and her spiritual daughter, Marie Syrkin, with reference to Ozick as well. Sara Horowitz respectfully considers the meaning of memory and testimony in the memoirs and oral histories of women Holocaust survivors, many of whom settled in America. These essays, while fully grounded in feminist theory, literary criticism, and Jewish sensibilities, are written to be read by anyone interested in understanding the writers and writing of Women of the Word.
Baum, Charlotte, Paula Hyman, and Sonya Michel. The Jewish Woman in America. New York: Dial Press, 1976. 290 p.
Groundbreaking study that made many American Jewish women aware of their rich history for the first time, but received little attention from the academic Jewish studies community ostensibly because it was aimed at a popular audience and lacked footnotes. It does makes use of memoirs, contemporary newspapers and reports, archival material, interviews, and especially literary sources, all of which are listed in an extensive bibliography. Successive chapters examine the traditional Jewish attitude towards women, assimilationist German Jewish immigrants, robust working women of the East European migration and the life they made in America, union activism, the complex and ambiguous relationship between "Uptown" German Jewish women and the "Downtown" Eastern Europeans, and the evolving image of Jewish women in literature, including the shift from veneration of the Yiddishe Mame to vituperation for the overbearing Jewish mother and her materialistic "Jewish American Princess" daughter. Concludes that no single set of characteristics does justice to American Jewish women, who should draw upon the strength of the heritage of Jewish womanhood to fight stereotypes and face modern challenges.
Burstein, Janet Handler. Writing Mothers, Writing Daughters: Tracing the Maternal in Stories by American Jewish Women. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996. 205 p.
Analyzes successive generations of twentieth-century authors writing in English on the mother-daughter theme. In her first four chapters Burstein focuses on psychological dimensions; in the fifth and final chapter her emphasis shifts to the influence of the history of Jewish women's political activism on the daughters. Chapters one and two are daughter- centered. In the first, literature by daughters of immigrants is described (by Mary Antin, Anzia Yezierska, Emma Goldman and Kate Simon) in which the protagonists confront the effects upon them of the gender imbalance within immigrant families. The daughters desperately want to be subjects of their own lives, rather than the subordinate objects their mothers are, yet they remain connected to the mothers and translate the mothers' stories into English. Chapter two concentrates on writers of the 1920s and 1930s, principally Tess Slesinger, Edna Ferber, Fannie Hurst, who detach from home in order to differentiate themselves from their mothers, and for whom the American part of their identity is critical. Mothers recover their own voices in the writing discussed in the next chapter, by Rebekah Kohut, Leah Morton, Tillie Olsen and others. Daughter-writers of the 1960s and 70s (Cynthia Ozick, Anne Roiphe, Erica Jong, etc.), though influenced by the feminist movement, see their stories as mirroring their mothers. They do not like what they see and try to break away through sexual encounters and romantic love, which fail them. The last chapter reveals an integration of American/Jewish/Woman aspects of identity in the writing of contemporary writers who look to the activist history of Jewish women as a source of inspiration and mothering.
Braunstein, Susan L. and Jenna Weissman Joselit, eds. Getting Comfortable in New York: The American Jewish Home, 1980-1950. New York: Jewish Museum, 1990. 110 p.
Catalogue from 1990 exhibition at the Jewish Museum includes a personal reminiscence by Irving Howe and articles by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Joselit. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett's "Kitchen Judaism" is a careful reading of Yiddish and English cookbooks that demonstrates how food shapes social life and cultural values. She discusses books with non-kosher recipes, especially Aunt Babette's Cookbook, first published in 1889, kosher cookbooks, food columns in the Jewish newspapers and their subsequent compilation into books, and charity cookbooks, such as The Settlement Cook Book, revised and reprinted numerous times since its original appearance in 1901. Joselit focuses on the social implications of a communal reliance on domestic rituals as a vehicle for acculturation in "'A Set Table': Jewish Domestic Culture in the New World, 1880-1950." In her view (developed further in her Wonders of America ), attention centered first on the physical parameters of domesticity (table settings, cleanliness of homes, etc.), then shifted to the promotion of home-based rituals to strengthen the family and appeal to children. Her evidence includes manuals on home observance directed at middle-class Jewish housewives, such as The Jewish Woman and Her Home, by Hyman Goldin (New York: Montauk Bookbinding, 1941) and The Jewish Home Beautiful, published that same year by the National Women's League of the United Synagogue of America. Copious photographs of material in the exhibition throughout.
Calof, Rachel. Rachel Calof's Story: Jewish Homesteader on the Northern Plains, ed. J. Sandford Rikoon; tr. from the Yiddish by Jacob Calof and Molly Shaw. Bloomington : Indiana University Press, c1995. 158 p.
Memoir of a harsh life on the prairie by a woman who arrived there in 1894 at age 18. Volume includes an epilogue, by her son Jacob Calof; and essays "Jewish Farm Settlements in America's Heartland," by J. Sanford Rikoon, and "Rachel Bella Calof's Life as Collective History," by Elizabeth Jameson.
Ewen, Elizabeth. Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars: Life and Culture on the Lower East Side, 1890-1925. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1985. 303 p.
Examines the lives of two generations of working-class Jewish and Italian "unwitting pioneers" who were confronted with a rapidly expanding mass production economy and consumer culture in America, conditions that de-valued family and group bonds important in the Old Country, particularly to women. Daily life became a "theater of cultural conflict" for them, with criticism from social workers and Americanized children alike. Ewen is interested in the interplay of class with the status of belonging to an immigrant ethnic group, less in distinctions between the Jewish and Italian communities.
Feingold, Henry L., gen. ed. The Jewish People in America. 5 v. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.
This series of five separately-authored books covering successive historical periods synthesizes much of the research on American Jewish women and incorporates it into a general history of Jews in America. The two volumes dealing with German and Eastern European immigration, which have received the most attention from historians of women's history, do an especially good job of integrating the research. These are A Time for Gathering: The Second Migration, 1820-1880, by Hasia R. Diner, and A Time For Building: The Third Migration, 1880-1920, by Gerald Sorin.
Fink, Greta. Great Jewish Women: Profiles of Courageous Women From the Maccabean Period to the Present. New York: Menorah, 1978. 197 p.
An example of efforts in the 1970s to restore women to history through discovering the lives of exceptional women. Women included (who lived some or all of their lives in America) are an eclectic bunch -- from founders of Jewish women's organizations (Hannah G. Solomon and Henrietta Szold) and anarchist Emma Goldman to artist Louise Nevelson and cosmetic mogul Helena Rubinstein.
Fishman, Sylvia Barack. A Breath of Life: Feminism in the American Jewish Community. New York: Free Press, 1993. 308 p.
Based on analysis of the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey, interviews, and keen observations, Fishman argues that since the 1960s feminism has invigorated the American Jewish community. She covers the impact of the growing number of women Rabbis and cantors in non-Orthodox branches of Judaism, new liturgy and life cycle rituals created by women, and options available to contemporary Jewish women. Also useful are the extensive appendices of statistical data from the Survey, broken down by gender. Her earlier essay, "The Impact of Feminism on American Jewish Life," in the American Jewish Yearbook 89 (1989): 3-62, was one of few in Yearbook history to assess the role of Jewish women in American Jewish society, with Rebekah Kohut's "Jewish Women's Organizations in the United States," in the 1931/32 Yearbook (vol. 33, pp. 165-201) being another. The AJYB article is reprinted in American Jewish Life, 1920-1990, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock, 257-316. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Foner, Philip S. Women and the American Labor Movement: From Colonial Times to the Eve of World War I. New York: Free Press, 1979. 621 p.
Eminent labor historian Foner traces the history of working women from colonial times to World War I. The contributions of Jewish women such as Clara Lemlich, Pauline Newman, Rose Schneiderman, Rebecca Saul, and Dora Landburg are critical to the development of the movement. Excellent, detailed coverage of the succession of strikes that brought the women to the fore.
Friedman-Kasaba, Kathie. Memories of Migration: Gender, Ethnicity, and Work in the Lives of Jewish and Italian Women in New York, 1870-1924. Albany: State University of New York, 1996. 242 p.
Newest of several works (see Krause, Ewen, and Smith) on immigrant Jewish and Italian women. Sociologist Friedman-Kasaba draws from many disciplines -- migration studies, feminist scholarship on gender, and ethnicity/race concerns -- to demonstrate the complexity of what immigration means for these women. The main question she poses is "Was the experience empowering or disempowering?" But she finds there is no single unifying "immigrant experience." For married women and/or women with children in both groups, she concludes that immigration disempowered most, while single women took more control over their own lives. Russian Jewish women had the advantage over the Italian women of assistance with vocational and Americanization training provided by German Jewish "co-ethnics," dubious though this help may have been at times. Whatever their background, Friedman-Kasaba regards immigrant women as active participants in migration and acculturation, engaged subjects rather than reactive objects of these processes. The academic prose and theoretical concerns make this a more difficult work to read than the earlier assessments.
Gay, Ruth. Unfinished People: Eastern European Jews Encounter America. New York: Norton, 1996. 310 p.
A mixture of personal remininiscences and material from published accounts, the chapter "Girls" vividly captures the persistence of negative attitudes towards girl children and women among the immigrant Jewish community.
Glantz, Rudolf. The Jewish Woman in America: Two Female Immigrant Generations, 1820-1929. Vol. 1, The Eastern European Jewish Women. Vol. 2, The German Jewish Woman. New York: Ktav for the National Council of Jewish Women, 1976-1977.
Published at the same time as the Baum-Michel-Hyman book by the same name, Glantz' two volumes are the inferior work, hampered by disconnected chapters, little attention to chronology, and inconsistent style. Yet, his descriptions of nineteenth century Jewish social life are instructive, and his use of contemporary periodicals, letters, and material from Jewish organizations, cited in extensive notes and bibliographies, provided historians with a glimpse into the primary sources available for the study of Jewish women in America.
Glenn, Susan Anita. Daughters of the Shtetl: Life and Labor in the Immigrant Generation. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990. 312 p.
Glenn's thesis is that Jewish women garment workers developed their own version of "New Womanhood" activism based on cooperation and partnership with men, unlike middle class Progressive "New Women" who operated separately. She finds the roots of the Jewish brand of New Womanhood in the conflicting shtetl legacy of the woman who could be breadwinner but not a leader in the shtetl power structure, because such roles were exclusively reserved for men; the socialist Bund, which tended towards gender equality; and the influence of the American notion of domesticity. This backdrop helps her explain convincingly why young Jewish women workers could be strike leaders one day, then non- working wives and mothers the next, yet champions of full education and work roles for their daughters. Her argument is complex, knitting the strands of gender, ethnicity, labor, and the immigrant experience. Generous use of quotations from memoirs and oral histories personalizes the social history.
Goldman, Anne E. Take My Word: Autobiographical Innovations of Ethnic American Working Women. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. 237 p.
Goldman is interested in women's writing that falls outside the traditional boundaries of the literary canon or even literature as commonly understood. About a third of this study focuses on autobiographical writing of working-class Jewish women, in particular assessing how the women balance their need to present themselves as individuals yet represent Jewish culture. In contrast to the assimilationist narratives of Mary Antin, Elizabeth Stern, and others, Goldman finds that Jewish labor activists took a different approach. In effect, they substituted the language of class consciousness for ethnic affiliation. Her principal examples are Rose Pesotta's Bread Upon the Waters and Rose Schneiderman's All for One, with their intertwining histories of labor and self. Couched in the discourse of cultural studies, this is a difficult but rewarding read.
Gurock, Jeffrey S. and Marc Lee Raphael, eds. An Inventory of Promises: Essays on American Jewish History in Honor of Moses Rischin. Brooklyn: Carlson, 1995. 436 p.
This anthology is an excellent illustration of a sensitivity to women's history in recent scholarship. Unlike collections from earlier eras that ignored women's experiences and contributions to American Jewish life, or those more recent that sport a token women- focused essay, this one explicitly includes several. Jenna Weissman Joselit describes the vocational training of American Jewish women before the Depression, while Allon Gal tackles the political characteristics of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. Pamela S. Nadell discusses how rabbinic ordination for women was achieved, distinguishing between the "top down" direction in which it came about in the Reform Movement from the "bottom up" path taken among Conservatives. Norma Fain Pratt rediscovers "lost" first generation immigrant Yiddish women writers, who published poems and prose in the Yiddish press on themes ranging from sweatshop work to yearnings for full lives. William Toll looks at settlement work in western cities in the United States, conducted by Jewish women trained in social work.
Heinze, Andrew. Adapting to Abundance: Jewish Immigrants, Mass Consumption and the Search for American Identity. New York: New York University Press, 1990. 276 p.
Particularly in chapter six, "Jewish Women and the Making of an American Home," Heinze demonstrates the critical role of women, as "rulers of domestic consumption" in the successful adjustment of Jews to America. Makes virtues of the bale boste's keen observation of American social standards for home decor, festive meals, and use of modern appliances, along with her sharp eye for bargains. That chapter is reprinted in The Gender and Consumer Culture Reader, ed. by Jennifer Scanlon, 19-29. New York: New York University Press, 2000.
Henry, Sondra and Emily Taitz. Written Out of History: Our Jewish Foremothers. New York: Biblio Press, 1990. 303 p.
First published by Bloch in 1978 under the title Written Out of History: A Hidden Legacy of Jewish Women Revealed Through Their Writings and Letters, this collection introduces general readers (including those fortunate to receive a copy as a Bat Mitsvah present) to the life stories of illustrious Jewish women throughout history. The biographies of only four Americans are among them, however: Rebecca Gratz, Penina Moise, Emma Lazarus, and Rebekah Kohut. A new concluding chapter touches on events and new research on women's lives published since 1978.
Hyman, Paula. Gender and Assimilation in Modern Jewish History: Roles and Representations of Women. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995. 197 p.
General purpose of this book is to reclaim the experiences of Jewish women as they accommodated to modernity in Europe and the United States and to explore the role of ideas about gender in the construction of Jewish identity. Chapter 3, "America, Freedom, and Assimilation," analyzes how the patterns of assimilation of women and men immigrants differed in significant ways. Women were specific targets for socialization in respectability, whether taught in institutions like the Educational Alliance or instructed in manners and fashion by advice manuals. Their newfound work outside the home introduced single women to union issues and socialist ideas, yet they were also expected to find their principal fulfillment as married homemakers, as they had in Europe.
Jensen, Joan M. and Sue Davidson, eds. A Needle, A Bobbin, A Strike: Women Needleworkers in America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1984. 304 p.
Jensen's introduction to the middle section of the book, "The Great Uprisings 1900- 1920,7quot; is a clearly-written schematic overview of the unions involved in the garment workers' strikes in Rochester, Chicago, Cleveland and New York. Jewish women strikers are described in essays on each strike. They include Rochester strikers Ida Brayman (who was shot to death during the strike), Libbie Alpern, and Fannie Gordon; Hannah Shapiro and Bessie Abramovitz in Chicago; national union organizer Pauline Newman in the Cleveland strike; and numerous women in New York. Ann Schofield's essay "The Uprising of the 20,000: The Making of a Labor Legend" is a good review of the varying interpretations of the events by feminist and other historians.
Joselit, Jenna Weissman. The Wonders of America: Reinventing Jewish Culture 1880- 1950. New York: Hill and Wang, 1994. 349 p.
Examines the fashioning of American Jewish culture through three generations of American Jews: immigrants, first generation, and the Jews of the suburbs. What they created was a "domesticated Jewishness" centered around the home and family -- its objects, meals and observances -- with women at its core. This entertaining, richly illustrated text constructs a culture from the likes of the Maxwell House Haggadah, a mah-jongg tile menorah, ritual guidebooks for the Jewish home, and Yiddish press food columns. While the role of Jewish women is implicit on every page, the discussion of immigrant Jewish motherhood in Chapter Two ("Yidishe Nachas7quot;) is particularly noteworthy. Here Joselit discerns the origins of the Jewish mother stereotype in the works of health professionals (7quot;The Jewish mother betray[s] an unusual amount of concern about the problem of feeding her children,7quot; states Ethel Maslansky in a 1941 article in Medical Woman's Journal) and anthropologists. Joselit's enthusiasm for the wonders of "domesticated Jewishness" is infectious. Even those who equate "culture" with fine arts and highly intellectual pursuits will be engaged by the telling.
Kamel, Rose Yalow. Aggravating the Conscience: Jewish-American Literary Mothers in the Promised Land. New York: P. Lang, 1988. 194 p.
A study of the narrator-personae created by five Jewish American women writers (Maimie Pinzer, Anzia Yezierska, Tillie Olsen, Grace Paley, and E.M. Broner). The women writers developed autobiographical personae who share six common characteristics: all are first-generation immigrant daughters, working-class, secular and self-educated; they live in cramped city surroundings; their relationships with men range from uneasy to antagonistic; mother-daughter relationships are tense, leading them to find literary foremothers for themselves; they identify with all victims of social injustice; and their texts are replete with Yiddishisms. The antihero pariah created by American Jewish male writers was quite different.
Kessner, Carole S., ed. The "Other" New York Jewish Intellectuals. New York: New York University Press, 1994. 382 p.
Considers the lives and contributions of intellectuals who were highly involved in Jewish concerns as compared to the better-known but disaffected Jewish literati of the 1930s and 40s. Only two of the fifteen essays are on women, because it was rare for Jewish women to devote themselves to lives of writing and lecturing on Jewish topics in that era. But both the chapters on Labor Zionist poet and Jewish Frontiers editor Marie Syrkin (by Carole S. Kessner) and German-born Trude Weiss-Rosmarin, who founded and spent half a century editing The Jewish Spectator (by Deborah Dash Moore), tantalize readers with glimpses into the lives of exceptional women worthy of book-length biographies.
Koltun, Elizabeth, et al., eds. "The Jewish Woman: An Anthology." Response no. 18 (Summer 1973), 192 p.
Influential first collection of writing from Jewish feminists committed to achieving equality for women within Judaism. Essays cover women's spirituality, Jewish law and texts, life cycle events, Israel, the Jewish community, and Jewish history. Charlotte Baum's contribution, "What Makes Yetta Work? The Economic Role of Eastern European Jewish Women in the Family," is an examination of figures on female labor force participation from the 1900 and 1910 U.S. censuses. She provides reasons why female labor in general and Jewish women's work in particular were underrepresented.
Koltun, Elizabeth, ed. The Jewish Woman: New Perspectives. New York: Schocken, 1976. 294 p.
Expanded version of the 1973 anthology, adding other role models from Jewish women's past, and sections on women in Jewish literature and the status of Jewish women in modern society. Stephen M. Cohen, Susan Dessel, and Michael Pelavin advocate a stronger role for women in Jewish communal organizations in their "The Changing (?) Role of Women in Jewish Communal Affairs: A Look Into the UJA." In "Mothers and Daughters in American Jewish Literature: The Rotted Cord," Sonya Michel discusses the conflict between immigrant mothers and American-born daughters in autobiographies and novels, as well as the less frequently found theme of reconciliation. She speculates that the second generation kept some of their mothers' traits that were reviled by the culture to which they aspired, leading to the negative stereotype perpetrated by their sons and (to a lesser extent) daughters. Says that the rotted (umbilical) cord may yet fall away if the condemned values come to be respected.
Krause, Corinne Azen. Grandmothers, Mothers, and Daughters: An Oral History Study of Ethnicity, Mental Health, and Continuity of Three Generations of Jewish, Italian, and Slavic- American Women. New York: Institute for Pluralism and Group Identity of the American Jewish Committee, 1978. 176 p.
The author found a continued importance of ethnicity as expressed in food, holidays, and family closeness in all three groups. Observed that Jewish grandmothers valued their independence and Jewish mothers were deeply empathetic with their children. The third generation of Jewish women studied wanted both families and careers, and their self-esteem was influenced by their level of educational attainment.
Kuzmack, Linda Gordon. Woman's Cause: The Jewish Woman's Movement in England and the United States, 1881-1933.Columbus: Ohio State University, 1990. 280 p.
Traces the role of Jewish women in the secular women's movement on both sides of the Atlantic while creating a "feminist movement that was distinctively Jewish" as well. The latter led to the founding of the National Council of Jewish Women and efforts to enhance the position of women in the synagogue. Kuzmack's research is based on newspaper accounts, diaries, and other archival material.
Lebeson, Anita Libman. Recall to Life: The Jewish Woman in America. South Brunswick, NJ: Yoseloff, 1970. 351 p.
The first history of Jewish women in America to be published, Lebeson's work is based on various secondary sources on American Jews, published memoirs, the author's prior publications (Pilgrim People, Jewish Pioneers in America), and her personal experiences in the National Council of Jewish Women. There was as yet virtually no critical historical research on Jewish women on which Lebeson could have relied. She is bent throughout on giving untempered praise both to the anonymous Jewish woman, who kept the faith and worked tirelessly on behalf of worthy causes, and to Rebecca Gratz, Emma Lazarus, Rosa Sonnenschein, Henrietta Szold, and a few other named women, better known because they left a written record.
Lichtenstein, Diane. Writing Their Nations: The Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Jewish Women Writers. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992. 176 p.
First book-length critical treatment of the subject. Lichtenstein's thesis is that nineteenth-century Jewish women writers shared a tradition combining two ideals: the pious, domestic, Christian "Cult of True Womanhood" and the protective, assertive "Mother in Israel." According to Lichtenstein, these Sephardic and German Jewish women used their writing to achieve respectability and to integrate their Americanism and Jewishness. The twenty-five writers surveyed range from Rachel Mordecai Lazarus, who started writing early in the century, to twentieth-century writer Edna Ferber.
Marcus, Jacob R. The American Jewish Woman, 1654-1980. New York: Ktav, 1981. 231 p.
One of two companion volumes written by the eminent historian of American Jews and founder of the American Jewish Archives. This narrative history of American "Jewesses" begins in seventeenth-century New Amsterdam with the contributions women made to the first synagogue in the colony and ends over three centuries later when Jewish women were at the forefront of the women's movement. Marcus highlights the lives of individuals rather than the social forces at work in the Americanization process. His excellent bibliographic essay at the end of the book, pointing to many avenues for further research, is an important bequest he bestowed on his successors.
Marcus, Jacob R. The American Jewish Woman: A Documentary History. New York: Ktav; Cincinnati: American Jewish Archives, 1981. 1047 p.
Marcus was the first to bring together an array of primary source material for the study of American Jewish women. He provides introductions to 177 selections or groups of selections, which are arranged chronologically. They include such items as eighteenth century letters by Abigail Franks and Rachel Gratz, epitaphs, an ethical will from Deborah Moses (1837), poems by Rebekah Hyneman and Emma Lazarus, documents from Hebrew ladies benevolent societies, Civil War remembrances of Clara L. Moses (Old Natchez), recollections of life with her husband Wyatt by Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp, excerpts from speeches at the Jewish Women's Congress (1893), statements of purpose from labor leaders, suffragists, and Zionists, and selections from scores of additional memoirs, autobiographies, and essays.
Markowitz, Ruth Jacknow. My Daughter, the Teacher: Jewish Teachers in the New York City School. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1993. 224 p.
Using interviews with sixty-one retired teachers as well as Board of Education records and union archives, Markowitz recounts how and why Jewish women in New York flocked to teaching in the 1920s and 1930s. Encouraged by their immigrant mothers, the women obtained college educations, typically at Hunter College, and positions teaching within New York City. They married, had children, and continued their teaching careers, because the New York City Board did not force married women to quit and because they found satisfaction in their profession. Markowitz is especially interested in the extensive involvement of these women in unionization. She does not deal with their lives as Jews except insofar as they were subjected to anti-Semitism.
McCreesh, Carolyn Daniel. Women in the Campaign to Organize Garment Workers, 1880-1917. New York: Garland, 1985. 298 p.
Reviews and analyzes the role of women workers and members of the Women's Trade Union League in unionizing activities, tactics, goals, and gains. Believes that Eastern European immigrant Jewish women were both able to withstand the rigors of picket lines and to rise to Union leadership due to their idealism and heritage of fighting oppression. Furthermore, unlike native-born American women, they remained outside the constraints of "domesticity," the view that women's sphere should be convined to the home, and were therefore less reluctant to take on public roles. Describes the parts played by Rose Schneiderman, Fannie Zinsher, Bessie Abramowitz, and other Jewish women.
Metzker, Isaac, ed. Bintel Brief: 1: Sixty Years of Letters from the Lower East Side to the "Jewish Daily Forward"; 2: Letters to the Jewish Daily Forward 1950-80. New York: Doubleday, 1971-1981; repr. New York: Behrman House, 1982.
The best-known primary source for gaining an appreciation of the problems encountered by immigrants is this translated collection from the advice column in the Yiddish Forward. Many of the letters came from women struggling in poverty with added burdens such as husbands who deserted them or employers who harassed them.
Moore, Deborah Dash. To the Golden Cities: Pursuing the American Jewish Dream in Miami and L.A. New York: Free Press, 1994. 358 p.
In the course of discussing spiritual life in Los Angeles in the post-World War II era, Moore takes note of the high proportion of adult women students in the University of Judaism and Brandeis Camp Institute programs. They were welcomed by Jewish educators who recognized that educated mothers held the key to the future of Judaism in America. Favoring experiential learning over traditional study, these women also influenced the curricula.
Myerhoff, Barbara. Number Our Days. New York: Dutton, 1978. 306 p.
Influential ethnographic study of some 300 aged Jews (mostly women) living in Venice, California, who are members of the Aliyah Senior Citizens' Center. Myerhoff looks for clues to successful aging, which she finds in their collective sense of being one people, and their individual sense of themselves. The women are the backbone of the Center although the men hold the ceremonial positions. The women continue performing "woman's work," which maintains a sense of worth that the men seem to have lost with retirement. Filled with anecdotes from the personal histories of the informants.
Orleck, Annelise. Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working-Class Politics in the United States, 1900-1965. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995. 384 p. Also on compact disc: Princeton: Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic, 2003.
Collective biography of four labor leaders: Fannia Cohn, Clara Lemlich Shavelson, Pauline Newman, and Rose Schneiderman, whom Orleck calls "industrial feminists." Each confronted sexism in the factory and the Union, elitism from their middle- and upper-class allies, and anti-Semitism from all sides, yet persevered to achieve great victories for labor and women. Deals with their personal as well as work lives.
Perry, Elisabeth Israels. Belle Moskowitz; Feminine Politics and the Exercise of Power in the Age of Alfred E. Smith. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. Reprint ed: Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2000. 279 p.
Feminist biography of Moskowitz (1877-1933), advisor to Alfred E. Smith and the most powerful woman in Democratic party politics during the 1920s. Written by her granddaughter.
Pinzer, Maimie. The Maimie Papers, ed. Ruth Rosen and Sue Davidson. Old Westbury, NY: The Feminist Press, 1977. 439 p.
The unusual twelve-year correspondence (from 1910-1922) between a Jewish former prostitute and a Boston society woman is a rich source of information on poor immigrant women who chose prostitution over menial labor or marriage. By the time of the letters Maimie had been "saved" by a social worker, and during their exchange she founded a home for wayward girls. The introduction by Ruth Rosen does not dwell on Maimie's Jewishness.
Rogow, Faith. Gone to Another Meeting: The National Council of Jewish Women, 1893- 1993. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1993. 300 p.
This history of the first national organization of Jewish women emphasizes how the notion of separate spheres for men and women, shared by American "True Womanhood" and traditional Jewish societal values, influenced the rhetoric and activities of the Council. Maternalism allowed the women to move beyond the home into the public sphere to shelter and instruct immigrant daughters, offer classes on parenting, and promote protective legislation for women and children. Initially the organization provided Jewish education for its members as well as a vehicle for social and philanthropic work, but the religious divisions within the Jewish community and the great success of the Council's social service program led to its increasing secularization. The book is especially strong on the founding and early years of the Council, but summarizes the period from the 1920s to the present in one final chapter. A section is reprinted in American Jewish Women's History: A Reader. Ed. Pamela S. Nadell, 64-74. New York: New York University Press, 2003.
Schloff, Linda Mack. "And Prairie Dogs Weren't Kosher": Jewish Women in the Upper MidWest Since 1855. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1996. 256 p.
Companion to an exhibition at the Minnesota Historical Society and written by the curator, who hopes to dispell the notion that all Jews settled on the East Coast and worked in the garment industry. This richly-illustrated book describes Jewish women homesteaders in Minnesota and the Dakotas who worked alongside their husbands whether on the farm, or in their dry goods "Jew stores," took in boarders, started organizations, and interacted with their neighbors at all levels. Schloff also analyzes Minneapolis/St Paul data in the 1910 manuscript census to contrast the occupational pattern of Jewish women residents with other European immigrants in the area and to Jewish women elsewhere. Bibliography lists relevant manuscripts held in the Minnesota Historical Society, the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest, other repositories in the region, and the American Jewish Archives. The section "'We Dug More Rocks': Women and Work" is reprinted in American Jewish Women's History: A Reader, Ed. Pamela S. Nadell: 91-99. New York: New York University Press, 2003.
Schreier, Barbara A. Becoming American Women: Clothing and the Jewish Immigrant Experience, 1880-1920. Chicago: Chicago Historical Society, 1994. 154 p.
Accompanying an exhibition organized by the Chicago Historical Society, this lavishly illustrated text documents the primacy of clothing in the acculturation process. Young Jewish women, especially those in the needle trades, were sensitive to fabrics and fashion and quickly adopted American styles. Their mothers were not so quick to abandon their sheitel (wig), the most tangible sign of old-world customs and the underlying religious values it symbolized.
Seltzer, Robert M. and Norman J. Cohen, eds. The Americanization of the Jews. New York: New York University Press, 1995. 468 p.
Includes a section on the impact of the women's movement on American Judaism, with essays by Ellen M. Umansky on Reform Judaism, Paula E. Hyman on the Ezrat Nashim feminist organization, and Judith Hauptman on Conservative Judaism. All three chart major advances made by women since the early 1970s, but also mention areas resistant to change, including liturgical language, adding women's voices to the Midrash (interpretation) of Jewish texts, and acceptance of egalitarianism as a warranted halakhic (legal) development.
Shapiro, Ann, Sara Horowitz, Ellen Schiff and Miriyam Glazer. Jewish American Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical and Critical Sourcebook. Greenwood Press, 1994. 557 p.
The only reference work to date that combines biographical information, critical analysis, and bibliographic citations about historical and contemporary Jewish American women writers. Mary Antin and Anzia Yezierska typify those who wrote of the generational conflicts among the immigrant generations, while Ilona Karmel, Irena Klepfisz, and Lore Segal are three who write as survivors of the Holocaust. The fifty-seven writers studied include women estranged from Judaism early in their lives who subsequently returned to their Jewish roots for inspiration. A separate chapter by Barbara Shollar discusses the disproportionate number of autobiographies by Jewish women in what is a major genre of women's writing in America. Shollar describes some of the 200 such twentieth-century writings in which ethnicity and gender are important themes.
Shepherd, Naomi. A Price Below Rubies: Jewish Women as Rebels and Radicals. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993. 336 p.
While mainly on European women, Shepherd's chapter "I Need a Violent Strike" focuses on Rose Pesotta and other Jewish immigrant unionists.
Smith, Judith E. Family Connections: A History of Italian and Jewish Immigrant Lives in Providence, Rhode Island, 1900-1940. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985. 228 p.
Discusses the work, kinship, and communal patterns established in Providence by immigrant Jews and Italians. While the majority of both Jewish and Italian women did not then work outside the home, some took in boarders or were shopkeepers. Smith attributes divergence between the two ethnic groups to the skills brought with them from Europe rather than to cultural differences.
Sochen, June. Consecrate Every Day: The Public Lives of Jewish American Women, 1880- 1980. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1981. 167 p.
Sochen's thesis is that Jewish American women have been prominent in three areas (unionism, volunteerism, and literature) precisely because of the "ambivalent richness of their dual background," which gave them fresh perspective, an "agonizing need to redefine themselves," and "an impetus to move outside predictable forms" (Introduction). Besides detailed treatment of union leaders, radical activists, mainstays of organizations, and writers, Sochen includes some fascinating variations on the theme of successful mergers of Jewish and American identities, from Yiddish actresses to Rabbis. Given the brevity of the volume, its contribution is also to reveal the fertile, untilled ground remaining for further analytic ploughing. The book's title comes from Hannah Greenbaum Solomon, founder of the National Council of Jewish Women and a Reform Jew, in answer to a challenge to her leadership from traditional women because she did not consecrate the Sabbath in an Orthodox manner.
Sorin, Gerald. The Prophetic Minority: American Jewish Immigrant Radicals, 1880- 1920. Bloomington: Indiana University, 1985. 211 p.
Seeks to explain the connection between radicalism and being Jewish by exploring the lives of 170 Jewish immigrants active in socialist unions or politics. Sorin's view of the prominence of women in this history is evident from page one, where Pearl Halpern is the first activist to be mentioned by name. Women are featured throughout the book, and a separate chapter examines their special situation as female radicals. Sorin discusses discrimination they encountered as women within the unions, sexual harassment of women in the shops, and complicated relationships with feminist organizations. He also offers interesting information on the ways in which women radicals differed from other immigrant Jewish women. They had received more education in Europe, were more apt to continue their education at night schools in America, and almost half had already been in Socialist groups before emigrating. Women radicals were also more likely to have had parents with relatively egalitarian marriages. Unlike most Jewish women who stopped working at marriage, these women either continued working after marriage or never married.
Tax, Meredith. The Rising of the Women: Feminist Solidarity and Class Conflict, 1880- 1917. New York: Monthly Review, 1980. 332 p.
The chapter "The Uprising of the Thirty Thousand" in this study of socialist feminists pays particular attention to the role of Clara Lemlich in the shirtwaist-makers' strike of 1909-10 and to the temporary unity of socialists, feminists, and trade-unionists.
Tenenbaum, Shelly. A Credit to Their Community: Jewish Loan Societies in the United States, 1880-1945. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1993. 204 p.
Especially in the section "Women as Leaders (pp. 84-90) but interspersed throughout, Tenenbaum provides data and analysis of the operations of Jewish women's free loan societies in numerous places in America. In her view, women formed their own organizations not because they wanted to give loans exclusively to women, but rather because they wanted control of disbursements, since they were rarely granted leadership positions in the general (male-led) Jewish loan societies and credit cooperatives. One notable exception discussed is Pauline Perlmutter Steinem, president of the Jewish Free Loan Association of Toledo, and grandmother of Second Wave feminist leader Gloria Steinem. Also covers the reasons women applied for loans, which included paying for rent, household expenses, medical bills, and education for themselves and their children. By contrast, most loans to men were for business ventures. Tenenbaum's "Borrowers or Lenders Be: Jewish Immigrant Women's Credit Networks," in American Jewish Women's History: A Reader, Ed. Pamela S. Nadell: 79-90 (New York: New York University Press, 2003) is based in part on the book.
Toll, William. Women, Men and Ethnicity: Essays on the Structure and Thought of American Jewry. Lanhan, MD: University Press of America, 1991. 240 p.
Pulls together a series of studies on women and the formation of Jewish communities in the South and West. Reassessing their role, Toll finds the informal social network created by women to be the very essence of defining a community; indeed, until women form an organization in a locale, it can only be called a settlement. The organizations were established to meet traditional religious needs, later serving as proving grounds for civic activism and professional training. Makes novel use of census tract information as well as organizational reports and minutes and oral histories.
Turpin, Sophie. Dakota Diaspora: Memoirs of a Jewish Homesteader. Berkeley, Calif. : Alternative Press, 1984. Reprint ed: Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, , c1984.
Memoir of turn-of-the-century life in "Nordokota" and the struggle to survive and maintain a Jewish life there.
Uffen, Ellen Serlen. Strands of the Cable: The Place of the Past in Jewish American Women's Writing. New York: P. Lang, 1992. 193 p.
A chronological presentation of selected Jewish women writers beginning with the immigrant generation (Antin, Stern and Yezierska), followed by Tess Slesinger and Beatrice Bisno in the 1930s, Jo Sinclair as representative of 1940s and 1950s, Zelda Popkin and Marge Piercy who started writing in the 1960s, and Cynthia Ozick for her work beginning in the 1970s. A concluding chapter covers contemporary writers. The characters turn to the past for understanding of their place in the present. All are concerned with Jewish identity and the double-edged sword that is assimilation. Unlike male writers and their characters who seek to shed Jewish identity, women writers search for new ways to be Jewish in the New World.
Wagenknecht, Edward. Daughters of the Covenant: Portraits of Six Jewish Women. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1983. 192 p.
Biographies of Americans Emma Goldman, Rebecca Gratz, Emma Lazarus, Henrietta Szold, and Lillian D. Wald and British writer Amy Levy that focus on their personal qualities, relationships to Judaism, and public accomplishments.
Weatherford, Doris. Foreign and Female: Immigrant Women in America, 1840-1930. New York: Schocken, 1986. 288 p.
Although no separate chapter is devoted to Jewish women immigrants. this text draws on many diaries, letters, and memoirs of Jewish women. It is a good introduction to the common problems encountered by immigrant women of all backgrounds, but is less helpful on considering the influence of ethnicity on the solutions adopted.
Weinberg, Sidney Stahl. The World of Our Mothers: The Lives of Jewish Immigrant Women. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988. 325 p.
Offers a redress to Irving Howe's World of Our Fathers (1976) in which "immigrant Jews" means males and the treatment of women is generally patronizing. This work concentrates on the day-to-day lives of Jewish women who immigrated to New York before 1925. Based on interviews with forty-six such women and augmented by reference to other memoirs, oral interviews, and secondary sources, Stahl builds a collective, chronological history out of the personal stories. Reverence for education and the burden of breadwinner role foisted on oldest daughters are two themes that emerge. While not as sweeping as the Howe book, it demonstrates how the values carried from Europe interacted with conditions in America for women.
Wenger, Beth. New York Jews and the Great Depression: Uncertain Promise. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996. 369 p.
Includes documentation of the financial contribution Jewish women made through earnings and careful management of the family budget during a difficult era. Wenger's "Budgets, Boycotts, and Babies: Jewish Women and the Great Depression," in American Jewish Women's History: A Reader, Ed. Pamela S. Nadell: 185-200 (New York: New York University Press, 2003) draws on material in this book.
Zaborowska, Magdalena. How We Found America: Reading Gender Through Eastern European Immigrant Narratives. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995. 359 p.
Compares the experiences of Jewish immigrants (Mary Antin, Elizabeth Stern, Anzia Yezierska, and Eva Hoffman) to each other and to non-Jewish immigrant writers (Maria Kuncewicz, Vladimir Nabokov, and herself). Explores the conflicts in gender expectations in the Old World and New and the complex identities of transplanted writers.
Articles in Periodicals and Anthologies
Abrams, Jeanne. "Unsere Leit ('Our People'): Anna Hillkowitz and the Development of the East European Jewish Woman Professional in America." American Jewish Archives 37 (November 1985): 275-278.
Puts Hillkowitz' career forward as typical of the volunteer-turned-paid professional communal worker. Hillkowitz served the Denver Jewish Consumptive Relief Society in the early 1900s. Her activities are well-documented through two hundred letters preserved in the Archives of the JCRS.
Albert, Marta. "Not Quite 'A Quiet Revolution': Jewish Women Reformers in Buffalo, New York, 1980-1914." Shofar 9, no. 4 (Summer 1991): 62-77.
Takes issue with William Toll (below) that Jewish women's social welfare work in the late nineteenth century was a gradual expansion of women's sphere. In Buffalo, Albert found a more assertive challenge to notions of women's proper sphere among women who fought for recognition in their community and synagogues.
Alperin, Harriet. "Where Were You During World War II: Today's Michigan Jewish Women Remember With Patriotism and Pride." Michigan Jewish History 35 (Winter 1994): 7-18.
Vignettes of Michigan Jewish women active in a variety of capacities during World War II, including in the military, as an assembly line worker, and a partisan who settled in Michigan after the war.
Antler, Joyce. "Between Culture and Politics: the Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women's Clubs and the Promulgation of Women's History, 1944-1989." In U.S. History as Women's History, ed. Linda K. Kerber, Alice Kessler-Harris, and Kathryn K. Sklar, 267-95. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1995. Reprinted in Unequal Sisters: A Multicultural Reader in U.S. Women's History, ed. Vicki L. Ruiz and Ellen Carol DuBois, 519-541.New York: Routledge, 2000.
Founded in the 1940s by Clara Lemlich Shavelson (who had rallied the shirtwaist workers to strike in 1909) and other radical activists like her, the Emma Lazarus Federation (ELF) fought anti-semitism and racial injustice, promoted women's rights, the State of Israel, world peace, and consumer issues, and supported the remembrance of secular progressive Jewish women's history. Antler argues that, like their namesake, the Emmas successfully integrated the female, radical, and Jewish aspects of their identities. Fills a gap in understanding what radical Jewish women did after the worker battles of the first part of the century.
Antler, Joyce. "A Bond of Sisterhood: Ethel Rosenberg, Molly Goldberg, and Radical Jewish Women of the 1950s." In Secret Agents: The Rosenberg Case, McCarthyism, and Fifties America, ed. Marjorie Garber and Rebecca L. Walkowitz, 197-214. New York: Routledge, 1995.
Contrasts the media representation of the Gertrude Berg character, Molly Goldberg, the public persona of Ethel Rosenberg, and their actual selves. Molly Goldberg was much-beloved and the epitome of a good Jewish mother. She stayed home, worried about her family and neighbors, leant a sympathetic ear, and was a fixer-upper par excellence. What the public perceived of Ethel Rosenberg was a cold, controlling woman who could abandon her children with ease. In reality, Gertrude Berg was a superb professional, who created her character, wrote the scripts, directed and produced her show; and Ethel Rosenberg was intensely concerned about her parenting and her sons. Antler also discusses the defense of Rosenberg mounted by the leftist Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish women, who were convinced of her innocence -- or at least considered her fate to be marked by political persecution tinged with antisemitic overtones.
Ashton, Dianne. "Souls Have No Sex: Philadelphia Jewish Women and the American Challenge." In When Philadelphia Was the Capital of Jewish America, ed. Murray Friedman, 34-57. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 1993.
Demonstrates how several nineteenth-century Jewish women who remained unmarried (including Rebecca Gratz, Emily and Ellen Phillips and others) engaged in significant benevolent activity while maintaining firm commitments to Judaism and defending it against evangelists.
Avery, Evelyn. "Oh My Mishpocha! Some Jewish Women Writers From Antin to Kaplan View the Family." In Studies in American Jewish Literature 5: The Varieties of Jewish Experience, ed. Daniel Walden, 44-53. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986.
Finds similarities between two immigrant works (Mary Antin's The Promised Land and Anzia Yezierska's The Bread Givers) and contemporary family sagas (Helen Yglesias' Family Feeling and Joanna Kaplan's O My America!). Both the earlier and later works are rooted in the Yiddish past and explore the effects of assimilation on Jewish families, and all pay tribute to the Jewish mother as the mainstay of the family and repository of tradition. Critical of the vacuous, materialistic second and third generations, the contemporary novels are much more negative about the bargain struck by the immigrants in giving up traditional values in the interest of becoming fully Americanized.
Bergland, Betty. "Ideology, Ethnicity, and the Gendered Subject: Reading Immigrant Women's Autobiographies." In Seeking Common Ground: Multi-disciplinary Studies of Immigrant Women in the United States, ed. Donna Gabaccia, 101-121. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1992.
Uses the concept of chronotope (time/space) to compare and contrast the positioning of the subjects/authors of three Jewish women's autobiographies. Mary Antin is the most Americanized of the three, yet she never has to deal with the problems of an adult woman since her autobiography ends in adolescence. Hilda Satt Polacheck, Hull-House resident, identifies with the traditional Jewish role of wife and mother, but remains critical of American values. The third, Emma Goldman, challenges prevailing American and Jewish ideologies alike, moving to a place (the public arena) unoccupied by many adult Jewish women of the time.
Berrol, Selma. "Class or Ethnicity: The Americanized German Jewish Woman and Her Middle Class Sisters in 1895." Jewish Social Studies 47, no. 1 (Winter 1985): 21-35.
Compares Rosa Sonneschein's The American Jewess to magazines aimed at the average middle-class American woman of the time.
Bienstock, Beverly Gray. "The Changing Image of the American Jewish Mother." In Changing Images of the Family, ed. Virginia Tufte and Barbara Myerhoff, 173-191. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979.
Interested in why the image of the solid immigrant Jewish mother of early twentieth- century novels by men degenerates into a "maternal vampire" by the 1960s. Attributing the shift to adaptation to America, Bienstock says that mothers came to epitomize the bourgeous materialism that 1930s writers revolted against. By the post-war era, writers treated the Jewish mother with condescension, parodied her, or blamed her for the sexual maladjustment and other inadequacies of her sons. Aside from the heroic mother in Anzia Yezierska's The Bread Givers (1925), Bienstock takes no notice of the portrayal of mothers in Jewish women's writings.
Blicksilver, Edith. "The Bintl Briv Woman Writer: Torn Between European Traditions and the American Life Style." Studies in American Jewish Literature 3, no. 2 (Winter 1977- 78): 36-49.
Discusses the types of problems women wrote about to the Forward editor between 1906-1911, especially dealing with family matters. Cautions that the bintl letters have limitations as a research source because they were written by unhappy women, who may not be representative of all immigrant Jewish women at the time. Furthermore, only some of the thousands of letters sent to the newspaper were actually published, and many were heavily edited. Praises editor Abraham Cahan for his thoughtful responses.
Bodek, Evelyn. "`Making Do': Jewish Women and Philanthropy." In Jewish Life in Philadelphia, 1830-1940, ed. Murray Friedman, 143-162. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1983.
Describes the leadership role played by a handful of German-Jewish women in founding and maintaining charitable institutions. They were especially attuned to the needs of poor women. The philanthropic women became highly adept at the political process and administration of organizations, yet were passed over for communal leadership when the Philadelphia Jewish community created a Federation of the various charities in 1901.
Braude, Ann. "The Jewish Woman's Encounter With American Culture." In Women and Religion in America. Vol 1, The Nineteenth Century, eds. Rosemary Radford Ruether and Rosemary Skinner Keller, 150-192 (essay and documents). San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981.
Discusses how the Enlightenment prepared German Jewish immigrants for the individualistic, voluntary model of religious life in America, where their Reform Judaism opened most doors to women (except ordination), but denigrated the commandments that had been specifically designated for women to perform. Covers the 1893 Congress of Jewish Women at the World Parliament of Religions.
Braude, Ann. "Jewish Women." In In Our Own Voices: Four Centuries of American Women's Religious Writing, ed. Rosemary Skinner Keller and Rosemary Radford Ruether, 109-152 (essay and documents). New York: HarperCollins, 1995.
Provides an overview of the status and practices of women in traditional Judaism useful to readers unfamiliar with Jewish tradition and summarizes the changes wrought by feminists who challenged exclusions. Regards the formation of Orthodox women's prayer groups as more "radical" in its context than the achievement of equality in non-Orthodox branches of Judaism. Also mentions the attraction for some formerly secular women of the strictly prescribed Orthodox way of life.
Braude, Ann. "Jewish Women in the Twentieth Century: Building a Life in America." In Women and Religion in America. Vol. 3, 1900-1968, eds. Rosemary Skinner Keller and Rosemary Radford Ruether, 131-174 (essay and documents). San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986.
Overview of religious conflicts for Jewish women seeking to move beyond the sphere of home and family.
Brav, Stanley R. "The Jewish Woman, 1861-1865." American Jewish Archives 17, no. 1 (April 1965): 34-75.
Draws on memoirs collected by Jacob Marcus in Memoirs of American Jews 1775- 1865 (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1955-56), newspaper accounts, letters, and other material to demonstrate the acculturation of Jewish women in America at the time of the Civil War. Discusses their education, household duties, social life, employment, and support for the war effort in both the North and South.
Brodsky, Naomi. "The First 100 Years of the National Council of Jewish Women." Rhode Island Jewish Historical Notes 11, no. 3 (1993): 359-369.
A decade-by-decade review of the accomplishments of the Providence, Rhode Island, section of the Council.
Chevat, Edith. "In For the Long Haul: Edith Chevat in Conversation With Annette & Friends." Bridges 6, no. 1 (Summer 1996): 7-30.
Chevat converses with three Jewish women activists then in their 80s: literary critic and American Labor Party officer Annette Rubinstein, civil rights and anti-Vietnam War activist Beatrice (Bd) Magdoff, and social worker Sherry (Elizabeth) Most, who was also active in the anti-Vietnam War movement. They discuss their involvements, careers, and what being Jewish means to them.
Clar, Reva. "Women in the Weekly Gleaner, Part I." Western States Jewish History 17, no. 4 (July 1985): 333-346; Part II: WSJH 18, no. 1 (October 1985): 44-57.
Rabbi Julius Eckman, editor of the San Franciso Jewish newspaper founded in 1857, was sympathetic towards women. In the Gleaner, he offered advice to women and covered their involvement in the community.
Cohn, Josephine. "Communal Life of San Francisco: Jewish Women in 1908." Western States Jewish History 20, no. 1 (October 1987): 15-36.
Reprint of 1908 article by a school principal and Hebrew teacher that provides details on Jewish women's organizations shortly after the San Francisco earthquake.
Drucker, Sally Ann. "'It Doesn't Say So in Mother's Prayerbook': Autobiographies in English by Immigrant Jewish Women." American Jewish History 79 (Autumn 1989): 55-71. Somewhat different version published as "Wandering Between Worlds: Autobiographies in English by Immigrant Jewish Women." In Women in History, Literature and the Arts: A Festschrift for Hildegard Schnuttgen, eds. Lorrayne Y. Baird-Lange and Thoman A. Copeland, 275-294. Youngstown, OH: Youngstown State University, 1989.
Identifies nineteen autobiographies by fifteen women authors who achieved prominence later in life. Most chose to dwell on their early years in Europe and America in their autobiographies rather than their subsequent public roles. Discusses the importance of the genre and treats in more detail the autobiographies of four fiction writers: Mary Antin, Rose Cohen, Elizabeth Stern, and Anzia Yezierska.
Eisen, George. "Sport, Recreation and Gender: Jewish Immigrant Women in Turn-of-the-Century America (1880-1920)." Journal of Sport History 18, no. 1 (Spring 1991): 103-120.
Discusses the increase in consciousness of sports and recreation due to the efforts of settlement houses, self-help organizations for the working girl, and the realization among the women that such activities could provide an avenue for self-expression and a break from traditional role expectations.
Frank, Dana. "Housewives, Socialists, and the Politics of Food: The 1917 New York Cost- Of-Living Protests." Feminist Studies 11, no. 2 (Summer 1985): 255-285.
Spontaneous demonstrations and boycotts characterized the reaction of Jewish housewives to rising prices for staples. In contrast, male socialists directed their energies at advocating for higher wages.
Fridkis, Ari Lloyd. "Desertion in the American Jewish Immigrant Family: The Work of the National Desertion Bureau in Cooperation with the Industrial Removal Office," American Jewish History 71 (December 1981): 285-99.
Similar to Friedman's article (below), with greater emphasis on the relationship between the National Desertion Bureau and the Industrial Removal Office. Reports that the Bureau handled over 12,000 cases of desertion from its founding in 1902 through 1922. Disagrees with Irving Howe who, in World of Our Fathers (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1976, p. 180), viewed desertion as a less significant problem than conflict between generations. In Fridkis' eyes, such desertions must have wrecked havoc in families, not just marriages. Most common reasons given for desertion according to a 1912 report: insufficient dowry, another woman, and "bad habits."
Friedman, Reena Sigman. "The Jewish Feminist Movement." In Jewish American Voluntary Organizations, ed. Michael N. Dobkowski, 575-601. Westport: Greenwood, 1986.
Chronicles Jewish feminist events from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s, including the creation of Ezrat Nashim in 1971. This group began by studying traditional Jewish sources in order to evaluate the position of women in Judaism and moved to activism in 1972 when it submitted a position paper calling for change to a convention of Conservative rabbis. Ezrat Nashim also organized the first national Jewish women's conference in 1973, with subsequent conferences in 1974 and 1975. Discusses the formation of the Jewish Feminist Organization, which grew out of second conference, the founding of Lilith Magazine (1976), and successful openings in religious roles.
Friedman, Reena Sigma. "'Send Me My Husband Who Is in New York City': Husband Desertion in the American Jewish Immigrant Community, 1900-1926." Jewish Social Studies 44, no. 1 (Winter 1982): 1-18. Reprinted in East European Jews in America, 1880-1920: Immigration and Adaptation, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock, v. 2: 577-594. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Similar in scope to Fridkis's article (above), this study uses archival material from the National Desertion Bureau, established by the National Council of Jewish Charities, to chart the extent and impact of desertion. More details than in Fridkis on the causes and impact of desertion. Cites studies that found marital infidelity to be the principal cause, followed by economic hardship, cheerless existences, poor health, and incompatibility. The total economic dependence of wives made many unwilling to testify against their husbands when they were apprehended. Some even turned to prostitution. Concludes that desertion was probably under-reported and that a fuller picture would emerge with an analysis of female- headed households in the Jewish population, combined with figures from orphanages, and other sources of data.
Generations (Jewish Historical Society of Maryland), 5, no. 1 (June/July 1984).
Includes "The Origins of Jewish Women's Social Service Work in Baltimore," by Cynthia H. Requardt, and several articles on individual Jewish women in Maryland.
Goldman, Karla. "The Ambivalence of Reform Judaism: Kaufmann Kohler and the Ideal Jewish Woman." American Jewish History 79, no. 4 (Summer 1990): 477-99. Reprinted in The History of Judaism in America: Transplantations, Transformations, and Reconciliations, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock, v. 2: 713-735. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Reform rabbinical leader Kohler saw women as embodying an idealized Jewish past when Judaism was centered in homes imbued with Jewish values and customs. Even though Kohler championed equality for women in the synagogue, Goldman makes a convincing case that he still wanted them to maintain the Jewish home of yore and did not see the contradiction.
Goldman, Karla. "Not Simple Arithmetic." Shofar 14, no. 1 (Fall 1995): 101-105; somewhat modified version published as "When the Women Came to Shul." In Judaism Since Gender, ed. Miriam Peskowitz and Laura Levitt, 57-61. New York: Routledge, 1997.
Discusses the salience of gender to the molding of American Judaism as seen through changes in architectural features of synagogue design as well as other accommodations to the dominant presence of women at Sabbath services. Fully articulated in Goldman's dissertation, Beyond the Gallery: The Place of Women in the Development of American Judaism (Ph.D., Harvard University, 1993).
Golinkin, David. "Rethinking the American Jewish Experience: the Movement for Equal Rights for Women in Judaism as Reflected in the Writings of Rabbi David Aronson." American Jewish Archives 47, no. 2 (1995): 243-260.
From articles and a letter written by Conservative rabbi David Aronson spanning the period 1922-1987, demonstrates that Rabbi Aronson was a strong advocate for women's religious equality, who supported his views with Talmudic and rabbinic sources.
Golomb, Deborah Grand. "The 1893 Congress of Jewish Women: Evolution or Revolution in American Jewish Women's History." American Jewish History 70 (September 1980): 52-67. Reprinted in Central European Jews in America, 1840-1880: Migration and Advancement, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock: 327-342. New York: Routledge, 1998.
While revolutionary in form, as the first such national gathering of Jewish women, the Congress is to Golomb more evolutionary in substance. The women involved were not associated with women's rights movement, and the antecedents for the National Council of Jewish Women, which grew out of the Congress, were women's clubs, not suffrage organizations. Nevertheless, Golomb concludes that the Congress was a pivotal event, providing a model for a national organization that went on to expand the sphere of women's endeavors.
Greenberg, Blu. "The Feminist Revolution in Orthodox Judaism in America." In Divisions Between Traditionalism and Liberalism in the Jewish Community: Cleft or Chasm, ed. Michael Shapiro, 55-78. Lewiston, NY: E. Mellon Press, 1991.
Relates a host of examples of feminist influences on Orthodox Judaism incorporated during the 1970s and 1980s that, taken as a whole, for Greenberg constitute a redefinition of women's roles in the Orthodox community. Examples include activism surrounding the status of the agunah, women's prayer groups, birth ceremonies for girls, Talmud study for girls and women, women in leadership positions within Orthodox congregations, and women in some circumstances reciting the kiddush and mourner's kaddish, saying the birkat ha-mazon (grace after meals), reciting lines under the chuppah (marriage canopy), and more.
Harris, Joanna Gewertz. "From Tenement to Theater: Jewish Women As Dance Pioneers: Helen Becker (Tamiris), Anna Sokolow, Sophie Maslow." Judaism 45 (Summer 1996): 259- 276.
Enlightening look at three children of Eastern European Jewish immigrants who became modern dance innovators. Each took part in the Neighborhood Playhouse of the Henry Street Settlement (New York) and drew inspiration for her choreography from her Jewish heritage in different ways. Tamiris advocated racially-mixed companies and was dedicated to encompassing multi-cultural elements. Sokolow created dances around social concerns, and Maslow used Shalom Aleichem stories as a motif along with other folk elements.
Hauptman, Judith. "The Ethical Challenge of Feminist Change." In The Americanization of the Jews, ed. Robert M. Seltzer and Norman J. Cohen, 296-308. New York: New York University Press, 1995.
Attributes the rapid acceptance of Jewish feminism to the liberalism of the American Jewish community, the openness of American society to new ideas, the coming of age of the Jewish community, and its pluralistic denominational structure. Hauptman focuses primarily on developments in the Conservative Movement. The way was eased by the fact decades earlier the Conservative Movement had made a number of radical changes in ritual, such as removing the mehitzah (separation) and allowing men and women to sit together in the synagogue. The Movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards readily voted to sanction local rabbis who permitted women in their congregations to be counted in the minyan (prayer quorum) to lead prayers and to function as witnesses. Rabbinic ordination was a thornier matter, but it, too, eventually succumbed, and women candidates for the rabbinate were admitted to the Movement's Seminary beginning in 1983. Hauptman ends by calling for a recognition that halakhah (Jewish law) can and does evolve in light of new ethical understandings. Egalitarianism is such a principle and therefore should be regarded as a halakhically-sanctioned development.
Hellerstein, Kathryn. "A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish." In Handbook of American-Jewish Literature: An Analytic Guide to Topics, Themes, and Sources, ed. Louis Fried, 195-237. New York: Greenwood, 1988.
Reviews the literary history of Yiddish poetry and its anthologizing, with a detailed examination of Ezra Korman's 1928 Yidishe Dikhterins Antologye (Yiddish Women Writers Anthology), which included poetry going back to the 16th century written in Yidish-Taytsh (old Yiddish), but emphasized twentieth-century immigrant women's work. While their poems reflect the same modernist shift from political and collective themes to more personal statements found in poetry by men, the women's writings show their special stance as women Jews writing in Yiddish. According to Hellerstein, evaluation and re-evaluation of the women poets is just beginning.
Herscher, Uri D., guest ed. "The East European Immigrant Jew in America (1881-1981)." American Jewish Archives 33, no. 1 (April 1981).
Entire issue devoted to memoirs of the immigrant experience, including Ida R. Feeley on growing up on the East Side (New York); remarks by Lillian Wald to an 1896 convention of the National Council of Jewish women concerning crowded districts; and the experiences of being raised in Arkansas, by Jeannette W. Bernstein, and in North Dakota, by Bessie Schwartz.
"History Is the Record of Human Beings: A Documentary." American Jewish Archives 31, no. 1 (April 1979).
Entire issue devoted to memoirs expressing the many different life experiences of American Jews. Includes Margaret Sanger on the misery she saw in the tenements, an autobiographical sketch of Nobel Prize winner Rosalyn Yalow, a nineteenth-century mother (Rebecca Cohen) coping with the loss of her infant, a 1931 report on a tragic voyage by Lena Pearlstein Berkman, and thoughts concerning "The Jewish Woman, The Jewish Home, and the Ideal Achieved," by Jennie R. Gerstley of Chicago (1931).
Horvitz, Eleanor F. "The Years of the Jewish Woman." Rhode Island Jewish Historical Notes 7, no. 1 (1975): 152-170.
Discusses the benevolent organizations established by Jewish women in Rhode Island from the 1870s onward.
Horvitz, Eleanor F. "The Jewish Woman Liberated: A History of the Ladies Hebrew Free Loan Association." Rhode Island Jewish Historical Notes 7, no. 4 (1975): 501- 512.
Focuses on an organization founded in 1931 that existed until 1965, which provided free loans to Jewish women.
Hyman, Paula. "Culture and Gender: Women in the Immigrant Jewish Community." In The Legacy of Jewish Migration: 1881 and Its Impact, ed. David Berger, 157-168. New York, Columbia University Press, 1983. Reprinted in East European Jews in America, 1880-1920: Immigration and Adaptation, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock, v. 3: 931-942. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Focuses on the intersection of gender, class, and Jewishness in standards for social and political behavior, extent and nature of employment, and formation of informal support networks of immigrant women. Identifies areas in need of further research.
Hyman, Paula. "Ezrat Nashim and the Emergence of New Jewish Feminism." In The Americanization of the Jews, ed. Robert M. Seltzer and Norman J. Cohen, 284-295. New York: New York University Press, 1995.
As a participant-observer of American Jewish feminism, Hyman reflects on the reasons why early goals enunciated by religiously-committed Jewish feminists in Ezrat Nashim were so readily accepted, and why later, more profound calls have met with less success. Besides the general receptivity of the Jewish community to claims based on equality and steps such as mixed seating in synagogues that had prepared the way, equal education for boys and girls created a cadre of educated Jewish women who cogently argued the case for equality. The Ezrat Nashim members were products of the best Jewish education offered by the Conservative Movement. Firmly rooted in Judaism, they functioned from within the community. Similarly, educated Orthodox feminists could often find local rabbis supportive of women's prayer groups. Reform Judaism, having no halakhic (Jewish law) constraints, had decided to admit women to rabbinical study before the Jewish feminist movement had crystalized. But liturgical changes and the incorporation of women's experiences into ritual and midrash have been harder to achieve. Feminists themselves are divided in the need for such changes, and many Jews remain emotionally attached or fear changes in the nature of Judaism. Hyman urges feminists to challenge those who regard feminism itself as a threat to Jewish survival.
Hyman, Paula. "Feminist Studies and Modern Jewish History." Feminist Perspectives on Jewish Studies, eds. Lynn Davidman and Shelly Tenenbaum, 120-139. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.
Reviews the beginning steps in Jewish historiography towards recognition of gender as an analytic tool. From subsuming women under the universal (male) experience or ignoring their womanly activities entirely, historians influenced by twenty years of feminist historical scholarship started to add prominent women and the treatment of women to their work. More recently historians have begun to use concepts of gender analysis to re-examine Jewish history as a whole. The supposed split between public and private spheres is challenged by women's involvement in social welfare and philanthropy, which grew out of familial and group relationships. The notion that assimilation in America was a rapid sharp break with the past does not hold up when women's roles as consumers and domestic managers are examined. Hyman raises several areas for further research, among them the implications of transferring principal responsibility for Jewish cultural transmission to mothers, the meaning of community for women, and the impact of female entrance into the Rabbinate. Closes with a challenge to her fellow historians to enrich the understanding of Jewish history with attention to gender.
Hyman, Paula. "Gender and the Immigrant Jewish Experience in the United States." Jewish Women in Historical Perspective, ed. Judith R. Baskin, 222-242. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991.
Uses gender as an analytical category with which to rethink the conventional views of historians about the acculturation of American Jews. Jewish women experienced America differently from Jewish men and from other women. Many came alone as single women, distinguishing their trajectory from that of other ethnicities where husbands and single men invariably emigrated first. Their work options were restricted to jobs considered suitable for women, but they embraced unionism and the fight for suffrage as opportunities to exercise their independence. Unlike other immigrant women, married Jewish women generally stopped working outside the home. Although their economic situation was dependent on their husbands, when their income was comfortable, the women turned their attention to social and communal philanthropies.
Hyman, Paula. "Immigrant Women and Consumer Protest: The New York City Kosher Meat Boycott of 1902." American Jewish History 70 (September 1980): 91-105. Reprinted in The American Jewish Experience: A Reader, ed. by Jonathan D. Sarna, 135-146. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1986. Reprinted in East European Jews in America, 1880-1920: Immigration and Adaptation, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock, v. 3: 915-929 (New York: Routledge, 1998) and in American Jewish Women's History: A Reader, ed. Pamela S. Nadell, 116-128 (New York: New York University Press, 2003).
Shows how the Jewish, female, and Americanized aspects of the immigrant identities coalesced into collective action against the price of kosher meat. While short-lived, the effectiveness of collective action by women was not lost on their sisters, daughters, or unions. Hyman considers the protest a prelude to the garment workers' strikes a decade later.
Hyman, Paula. "The Introduction of the Bat Mitzvah in Conservative Judaism in Postwar America." YIVO Annual 19 (1990): 133-146.
Anshe Emet Congregation in Chicago made the Bat Mitzvah a regular occurrence in the 1940s and held a service in 1952 conducted by women, at which women were called to the Torah for all the aliyot. The Brooklyn Jewish Center had its first Bat Mitsvah in 1955 with the impetus coming from the Education Committee of the Hebrew School desirous of keeping girls in the School.
Joselit, Jenna Weissman. "Saving Souls: The Vocational Training of American Jewish Women 1880-1930." In An Inventory of Promises: Essays on American Jewish History in Honor of Moses Rischin, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock and Marc Lee Raphael, 151-169. Brooklyn: Carlson, 1995.
On the mission and operations of the Louis Downtown Sabbath School, later called the Hebrew Technical School for Girls, established in 1880 by Minnie Louis and other "Uptown" Jewish women who wished to Americanize the "Downtown" masses. The school added industrial education five years later, with a curriculum that included cutting and fitting of dresses, sewing, millinery, bookkeeping, "type-writing," business penmanship, and housework. The girls themselves rejected outright domestic service as a career and preferred commercial to manual training, but their ultimate goal was marriage. Neither the school nor the students moved beyond a gendered view of options.
Joselit, Jenna Weissman. "The Special Sphere of the Middle Class American Jewish Woman: The Synagogue Sisterhood, 1890-1940." In The American Synagogue: A Sanctuary Transformed, ed. Jack Wertheimer, 206-230. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Reprinted in The History of Judaism in America: Transplantations, Transformations, and Reconciliations, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock, v. 3: 1215-1239.. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Studies the common pattern of sisterhood activities and attitudes in three New York synagogues of different denominations and concludes that they in no way challenged the assumption that women's sphere was the home. Sisterhoods during the era examined were religious housekeepers of the synagogues, with responsibilities extending from decorating a sukkah in an aesthetically-pleasing manner to providing food at youth events. In Joselit's view, the sisterhoods were only negligible forces for change.
Karsh, Audrey R. "Mothers and Daughters of Old San Diego." Western States Jewish History 19, no. 3 (April 1987): 264-270. Reprinted as "Hannah Solomon Jacobs, Victoria Jacobs, Hannah Mannasse and Celita Mannasse of Old San Diego," in Jewish Women of the American West: An Anthology of Articles Published by Western States Jewish History, ed. Gladys Sturman and David Epstein, 5-12. Los Angeles, Western States Jewish History Association, 2003.
Principally about Hannah Solomons Jacobs, the first Jewish woman to settle in San Diego (1851), her daughters, and Hannah Mannasse and her daugher Celita.
Kessler-Harris, Alice. "Organizing the Unorganizable: Three Jewish Women and Their Union." Labor History 17, no. 1 (Winter 1976): 5-23; reprinted in Class, Sex and the Woman Worker, ed. Milton Cantor and Bruce Laurie, 144-165 (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1977); in East European Jews in America, 1880-1920: Immigration and Adaptation, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock, v. 3: 943-961 (New York: Routledge, 1998); and in American Jewish Women's History: A Reader, ed. Pamela S. Nadell, 100-115 (New York: New York University Press, 2003).
The three indefatigable organizers of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union studied are Pauline Newman, Fannia Cohn, and Rose Pesotta. Each saw her options as either career with the Union or marriage and children, and each chose the Union. Kessler-Harris credits the high value American Jewish culture placed on self-sufficiency with influencing their decisions.
Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. "The Kosher Gourmet in the Nineteenth-Century Kitchen: Three Jewish Cookbooks in Historical Perspective." Journal of Gastronomy 2, no. 4 (Winter 1986-87): 51-89.
Puts cookbooks forward as a source full of information on social, religious, and domestic life, particularly of women. Discusses Jewish Cookery, by Esther Levy, the first Jewish cookbook in the United States (Philadelphia, 1871).
Klingenstein, Susanne. "`But My Daughters Can Read the Torah': Careers of Jewish Women in Literary Academe." American Jewish History 83 (June 1995): 247-86.
Describes the professional paths of five Jewish female professors of literature: Susan Gubar, Carolyn Heilbrun, Marjorie Garber, Carole Kessner, and Barbara Herrnstein Smith. None received a Jewish education as a child comparable to that of boys of their generation, yet both gender and Jewishness affect their lives and careers. A groundbreaking study of Jewish women in a profession.
Korelitz, Seth. "A Magnificent Piece of Work: The Americanization Work of the National Council of Jewish Women." American Jewish History 83 (June 1995): 177-203.
Argues that the NCJW differed from other Americanizing organizations in its support for the expansion of women's role into the public sphere.
Kramer, William M. and Norton B. Stern. "A Woman Who Pioneered Modern Fundraising in the West." Western States Jewish History 19, no. 4 (July 87): 335-45.
On Anna Myers, wife of the founding Rabbi of the oldest Conservative synagogue in Los Angeles.
Krause, Corinne Azen. "Urbanization Without Breakdown: Italian, Jewish, and Slavic Immigrant Women in Pittsburgh, 1900-1945." Journal of Urban History 4, no. 3 (May 1978): 291- 306; excerpted in Immigrant Women, ed. Maxine Schwartz Seller, 62-67. 2nd ed. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.
Based on interviews with forty-five women who on the whole succeeded in adjusting to America, helped by family, neighbors, churches and synagogues, and ethnic communities.
Lamoree, Karen M. "Why Not a Jewish Girl? The Jewish Experience at Pembroke College in Brown University." Rhode Island Jewish Historical Notes 10, no. 2 (1988): 122-140.
Discusses admissions policy and campus life of Jewish students admitted during the period 1897-1949.
Lederhendler, Eli. "Guides for the Perplexed: Sex, Manners, and Mores for the Yiddish Reader in America." Modern Judaism 11, no. 3 (October 1991): 321-41.
Examines the advice manuals and journals written or translated into Yiddish that sought to Americanize immigrant Jews through instructing them in manners, hygiene, fashion, parenting, sexuality, and birth control. Since most of these topics fall within the traditional sphere relegated to women, the literature was often addressed to them specifically.
Lerner, Anne Lapidus. "'Who Has Not Made Me a Man': The Movement for Equal Rights for Women in American Jewry." American Jewish Year Book 77 (1977): 3-38.
Often-cited article on the effect feminism has had on Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism in America.
Lerner, Elinor. "American Feminism and the Jewish Question, 1890-1940." In Anti-Semitism in American History, ed. David Gerber, 305-328. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986. Reprinted in Anti-Semitism in America, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock. v. 1: 389-412. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Indicts American feminism for "non-recognition of Jewish existence." The movement took no stand in the 1930s on mounting persecution of Jews in Europe, and Jewish support for feminism was rendered invisible.
Lerner, Elinor. "Jewish Involvement in the New York City Woman Suffrage Movement." American Jewish History 70, no. 4 (June 1981): 442-461. Reprinted in Women and the Structure of Society: Selected Research From the Fifth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, eds. Barbara J. Harris and JoAnn K. McNamara, 191-205, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1984, and in East European Jews in America, 1880-1920: Immigration and Adaptation, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock, v. 3: 963-982. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Demonstrates that Jewish women regarded women's suffrage as a civil rights issue completely in accord with American notions of equality. Discusses the roles played in the movement by Ernestine Rose, Maud Nathan, and Rose Schneiderman and the legions of immigrant Jewish women in the victorious quest for voting rights.
Litt, Jacquelyn. "Mothering, Medicalization, and Jewish Identity, 1928-1940." Gender & Society 10, no. 2 (April 1996): 185-198.
Uses narratives of 20 Jewish women who gave birth to their first child between 1928 and 1940 to examine the relationship between mothers and medical discourse. The women were eager to adopt medicalized mothering practices as a sign of their advancement from immigrant culture into the American middle class. She also her Medicalized Motherhood : Perspectives From the Lives of African-American and Jewish Women. New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, c2000.
Monson, Rela Geffen. "The Impact of the Jewish Women's Movement on the American Synagogue: 1972-1985." In Daughters of the King: Women and the Synagogue, a Survey of History, Halakhah, and Contemporary Realities, ed. Susan Grossman and Rivka Haut, 227-236. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society 1992.
Credits the feminist movement and gains made by educated, professional Jewish women in the outside world with awakening their desire for change within Judaism. Sparked by the actions of Ezrat Nashim, a Jewish women's study group turned activist, in the early 1970s religiously-committed Jewish women focused their energies on obtaining equality within the synagogue, the locus of Jewish life. Life cycle rituals were affected next, including in the Orthodox community, which introduced the simhat bat (naming ceremony for a baby girl) and extended the concept of Bat Mitzvah to mark the coming of age for Orthodox girls. Orthodox women's prayer groups formed as well. The impact on the Conservative Movement has been considerable, from ordaining women rabbis since 1985 to ceding to women many leadership positions within congregations. Developing gender-neutral liturgical language became an interest of Jewish women in the Reform Movement. Essay is followed by personal vignettes from women across the religious spectrum with varying views of the changes wrought.
Moore, Deborah Dash. "Studying the Public and Private Selves of American Jewish Women." Lilith 10 (Winter 1983): 28-30.
Summarizes the state of historiography of Jewish women's history as of that date.
Nadell, Pamela S., guest ed. American Jewish History 83, no. 2 (June 1995).
Thematic issue on American Jewish women's history, with articles by Dianne Ashton on nineteenth-century Philadelphia community leader Mary M. Cohen; Seth Korelitz on the National Council of Jewish Women; Norma Baumel Joseph on Rabbi Moshe Feinstein's view of Jewish education for women; Shuly Rubin Schwartz on the rebbetzin in twentieth-century America; Susanne Klingenstein on careers of Jewish women in literary academe; and reviews of two books on Jewish women. In the introduction, Nadell reviews the course of incorporation of women and gender into Jewish historiography.
Nadell, Pamela S. "A Land of Opportunities: Jewish Women Encounter America." In What is American About American Jewish History, ed. Marc Lee Raphael, 73-90. Williamsburg, VA: Department of Religion, College of William and Mary, 1993.
Nadell extends to women's experiences a three-factor paradigm (freedom-frontier- immigration) used by Abraham J. Karp to explain what in the American national character most influenced the American Jewish community. For women, freedom of religion led to the establishment of synagogues and associated organizations where women were allowed increasing roles, particularly in Reform congregations. Frontier communities educated girls and boys together, and a dearth of traditional leaders opened up opportunities for women that included acting as Rabbis in some instances. The immigration of Eastern European Jews created Conservative institutions that permitted women to become leaders more slowly than did the Reform movement, yet also gradually allowed women such roles.
Nadell, Pamela S. "Rereading Charles S. Leibman: Questions From the Perspective of Women's History." American Jewish History 80, no.4 (Summer 1991): 502-516.
Gracious comments on sociologist Liebman's body of work give way to chiding for his failure to include women in his studies. Provides examples where Liebman generalized about American Jewish life from exclusively male samples and calls gender an essential category of history. In a rejoinder ("A Perspective On My Studies of American Jews," pp. 517-534), Liebman retorts that he does not think his results would have been any different had he surveyed women, and that gender, like class and ethnicity, is not salient in every place and at all times.
Nadell, Pamela S. "'Top Down' or 'Bottom Up'" Two Movements for Women's Rabbinic Ordination." In An Inventory of Promises: Essays on American Jewish History in Honor of Moses Rischin, ed. Jeffrey Gurock and Marc Lee Raphael, 197-208. Brooklyn: Carlson, 1995.
Contrasts the "top down" direction in which rabbinical ordination of women became sanctioned in the Reform Movement with the "bottom up" pathway taken by the Conservative Movement.
Nadell, Pamela S. "The Women Who Would Be Rabbis." In Gender and Judaism: The Transformation of Tradition, ed. T.M. Rudavsky, 123-134. New York: New York University Press, 1995. Reprinted in American Jewish Women's History: A Reader, ed. Pamela S. Nadell, 175-184. New York: New York University Press, 2003.
Situates the movement for women's rabbinic ordination within the historiography of women in the professions and focuses on the handful of women who enrolled in rabbinical school courses, raising the issue of ordination in concrete terms. The story of Irma Levy Lindheims, a well-to-do New York matron and mother of five who became an ardent Zionist and full-time student in the Jewish Institute of Religion in the 1920s, is a particularly compelling one. Although she did not complete her studies, she went on to become the second president of Hadassah, which she wrote made her feel more truly ordained than if she had been confirmed as a Rabbi. Laura Geller's essay in this anthology is a useful companion piece because it examines the nature of women's rabbinical leadership in the 1990s, after hundreds of women have been ordained.
Nadell, Pamela S. and Rita J. Simon. "Ladies of the Sisterhood: Women in the American Reform Synagogue, 1900-1930." In Active Voices: Women in Jewish Culture, ed. Maurie Sacks, 63-75. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995.
The founding of the first Reform sisterhood in 1905 by Carrie Simon, wife of the Rabbi of Washington Hebrew Congregation, was influenced by a history of general benevolence performed by Hebrew ladies aid societies, the growth of synagogues as central institutions of American Jewish life, and parallel women's organizations in churches. Once established, individual sisterhoods and their umbrella organization, the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, moved beyond supporting activities to involvement in shaping the customs and role for women in Reform Judaism. Differs with Joselit who views sisterhoods as negligible factors of change.
Neu, Irene D. "The Jewish Businesswoman in America." American Jewish Historical Quarterly 66, no. 1 (1976): 137-154.
Describes several Sephardic women merchants and shopkeepers in the eighteenth century, when it was not unusual for women to engage in business, particularly if they were unmarried or widowed. This is followed by discussion of fewer acceptable options for nineteenth-and early twentieth-century German and Eastern European immigrant married women, who could join their husbands in shopkeeping and small manufacturing ventures, but rarely set out on their own. Single women might work as domestics or in factories, but did not pursue business ventures. Neu recounts stories of some Eastern European women who showed marked entrepreneurial ability and were more enterprising than their husbands within familial businesses. After the immigrant generation, few Jewish women were engaged in business, expending their energies instead on volunteer work.
Pratt, Norma Fain. "Culture and Radical Politics: Yiddish Women Writers, 1890-1940. American Jewish History 70, no. 1 (1980): 68-90. Reprinted in Decades of Discontent: The Women's Movement, 1920-1940, ed. Lois Scharf and Joan M. Jensen, 131-152, Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1983, and in Women of the Word: Jewish Women and Jewish Writing, ed. Judith R. Baskin, 111-135. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994.
Deals with the lives and works of some fifty writers virtually ignored by historians until Pratt rediscovered them. They shared a proletarian Eastern European Jewish background and poorly educated parents (with many of the mothers being close to illiterate). They themselves received little advanced formal education, yet became journalists, poets, and fiction writers in their own language in America. Their writing appeared in radical, secular Yiddish newspapers and literary journals and spoke of female, Jewish, and working-class concerns and adjustments to life in America. Pratt discusses the experiences that brought many of the women to writing, and the lives of several of the writers, including Hinde Zaretsky, Esther Luria, Anna Rappaport, Fradel Stock, Yente Serdatzky, Celia Dropkin, Anna Margolin, Rachel Holtman, and Kadya Molodowsky. An appendix lists the poets, with their birth and immigration dates.
Pratt, Norma Fain. "Immigrant Jewish Women in Los Angeles: Occupation, Family and Culture." In Studies in American Jewish Experience, ed. Jacob R. Marcus and Abraham J. Peck, 78-89. Cincinnati: American Jewish Archives, 1981.
Takes issue with Irving Howe's view in World of Our Fathers that Eastern European Jewish women lost their importance in the family economy and had only marriage, motherhood and 'ladylike passivity' as roles. Pratt found a more complex situtation when she examined their experiences in Los Angeles between 1900 and 1940. Like men, women were expected to work and to move from working to middle class through education for middle class occupations, which for women meant clerical work.
Pratt, Norma Fain. "Transitions in Judaism: The Jewish American Woman Through the 1930s." American Quarterly 30, no. 5 (Winter 1978): 681-702; reprinted in Women in American Religion, ed. Janet Wilson James, 207-228. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1980.
Explains the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements in American Judaism as background to discussion of changes in the type and degree of participation by women in the 1920s. In Reform and Conservative branches, only actual religious services stayed in the realm of the sacred, while Jewish education, philanthropy, social services and culture moved outside the orbit of Talmudic/rabbinic regulation. These areas, therefore, became open to women, who availed themselves of the opportunities for involvement. Also discusses Der yidisher froyen zhurnal [The Jewish Ladies Journal], 1922-23, memoirs, poetry and other writings by women, their organizations, and the education of girls.
Pratt, Norma Fain. "Women Moving Forward: Dreamers, Builders, Leaders: A History of Jewish Women in Southern California." Legacy [Southern California Jewish Historical Society] 1, no. 3 (Spring 1989), entire issue (61 p.)
Captures some significant names, events, and experiences of Jewish women settlers in Southern California from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Like immigrants elsewhere, Jewish women in California attended schools, worked at least until marriage, and were active in Jewish women's organizations. Hollywood, however, is another story. Anzia Yezierska became an instant celebrity -- the "Immigrant Cinderella" -- when she was brought out to turn Hungry Hearts into a movie (she quickly fled), and silent screen star Carmel Myers refused advice to change her name to something not so recognizably Jewish.
Pratt, Norma Fain. "A Working Girl With a Mind of Her Own." In An Inventory of Promises: Essays on American Jewish History in Honor of Moses Rischin, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock and Marc Lee Raphael, 209-222. Brooklyn, NY: Carlson, 1995.
Rediscovers lost first-generation immigrant Yiddish women writers including "sweatshop poets" Berta Nagle and Dora Mogilanski, whose themes were similar to their male working-class counterparts, and others whose writing centered on the yearnings of the working girl. Publishing in Yiddish newspapers in the first decade of the twentieth century were poet Anna Ziv, novelist Toybe Segal, and short story writers Yente Serdatski, Miriam Karpelov, and Rokl Lurie. These writers touched on important life issues -- work, sex, family, education, and justice -- as seen from the eye of the working woman and may have contributed to the collective action aimed at bettering working conditions spearheaded by Jewish women not long thereafter.
Quack, Sibylle. "Changing Gender Roles and Emigration: The Example of German Jewish Women and Their Emigration to the United States, 1933-1945. In People in Transition: German Migrations in Comparative Perspective, 1820-1930, ed. Dirk Hoerder and Jörg Nagler, 379-397. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Begins by describing the experiences of German Jewish women before they fled Germany, then discusses their emigration pattern (in fewer numbers than men, in part becuase they delayed leaving in order to tend old or sick relatives or because many worked for Jewish welfare organizations that needed them), followed by a description of what they did once they arrived in the United States. Many accepted positions as domestics, no matter what they had done previously, or in factories, offices, hospitals, or retail shops. On the whole it was easier for German Jewish immigrant women to find jobs than it was for men. In Germany, women were more apt to study languages, and some already knew English. They were also ready to accept anything that would bring in an income, viewing their participation in such jobs or the workforce in general as temporary, while their husbands re-trained, learned English, and secured permanent positions. After the families were well-settled in America, though, not all the women gave up working outside the home. Gender relations were changed, however, even for those who did.
Quint, Ellen Deutsch. "Women in Leadership Roles in Federations: An Historic Review." Journal of Jewish Communal Service 72, no. 1/2 (Fall/Winter 1995/96): 96-101.
Reviews the progress in involvement of lay and professional women leaders in federations since the early 1970s when the issue was first put on national and local federation agendas. Surveys in 1972 of volunteer decision makers and in 1975 of professional positions found women severely limited in their participation rate. Subsequent surveys noted improvements, due to active steps taken by the federations to make their boards and upper echelon staff positions more inclusive, yet a 1993 survey still found few women at the very top of federations in large cities. Deutsch calls for continued efforts to attract women philanthropists, volunteers, and professional leaders.
Rochlin, Harriet. "Riding High: Annie Oakley's Jewish Contemporaries: Was the West Liberating for Jewish Women?" Lilith 14 (Fall 1985/Winter 1986): 14-16.
Equivocating on a firm answer to her question, Rochlin offers examples of successful Jewish women pioneers of the West, then asks a series of quantitative, comparative, and Jewish questions awaiting further research.
Rogow, Faith. "Why is This Decade Different From All Other Decades?: A Look at the Rise of Jewish Lesbian Feminism." Bridges 1, no. 1 (Spring 1990): 67-79.
Explores the hints of Jewish lesbian history present in the lives of early twentieth- century social reformers and labor organizers and the fiction of Jo Sinclair. Traces developments in the 1970s including the founding of gay synagogues, networks of Jewish lesbian consciousness-raising groups, and the rise of a distinctive literature. Finds increased acceptance of gays and lesbians in congregations and rabbinical training in the 1980s, but also considerable remaining homophobia, ignorance, and ignoring of lesbians by the organized American Jewish community. Criticizes Jewish feminist historical scholarship that ignores lesbians.
Sanua, Marianne. "From the Pages of `The Victory Bulletin': The Syrian Jews of Brooklyn During World War II." YIVO Annual 19 (1990): 283-330.
The Victory Bulletin was a monthly published during the War by a group of young Syrian Jewish women. Besides keeping Syrian American Jewish soldiers apprised of what was going on in the community, it also advocated changes in women's roles.
Sarna, Jonathan D. "The Debate Over Mixed Seating in the American Synagogue." In The American Synagogue: A Sanctuary Transformed, ed. Jack Wertheimer, 363-394,. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Reprinted in The History of Judaism in America: Transplantations, Transformations, and Reconciliations, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock, v. 2: 737-768.. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Traces the symbolism of mixed seating from the drive for family togetherness ("family seating") chiefly in the Reform Movement in mid-to-late nineteenth century, through a measure of women's equality in the Conservative Movement early in the twentieth century, to the denominational boundary between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Judaism.
Schwartz, Shuly Rubin. "'We Married What We Wanted To Be': The Rebbetzin in Twentieth-Century America." American Jewish History 83 (June 1995): 223- 246.
Using published sources from the Conservative Movement in particular, Schwartz elevates the position of rebbetzin (rabbi's wife) to one of religious and communal leadership in the days before women could become rabbis.
Seller, Maxine Schwartz. "Defining Socialist Womanhood: The Women's Page of the Jewish Daily Forward in 1919." American Jewish History 76, no. 4 (June 1987): 416- 438.
Analyzes the advice given women by socialist newspaper columnists, who favored involvement in unionism, women's suffrage, and the feminist movement, yet required them to be true to traditional roles of Jewish women in home and family.
Seller, Maxine Schwartz. "Putting Women Into American Jewish History." Frontiers 5, no. 1 (Spring 1980): 59-62; and variant published as "Reclaiming Jewish Herstory" in Lilith 7 (1980): 23-24.
Written version of presentation made at the 1979 National Women's Studies Association. Describes issues of content, format, conceptualization, materials, and student reaction addressed by her effort to add women to a survey course on "The American Jewish Experience."
Seller, Maxine Schwartz. "The Uprising of the Twenty Thousand: Sex, Class, and Ethnicity in the Shirtwaist Makers Strike of 1909." In Struggle a Hard Battle: Essays on Working Class Immigrants, ed. Dirk Hoerder, 254-279. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1986.
After summarizing the working conditions that led to the strike, Sellers discusses how the coincidence of class and ethnicity within the Yiddish-speaking community created the climate in which Jewish women had no conflict becoming union activists. One of the long- term impacts of the strike was that several Jewish women who came to leadership stayed active thereafter in unions, women's suffrage campaign, and other political work.
Seller, Maxine Schwartz. "World of Our Mothers: The Women's Page of the Jewish Daily Forward." The Journal of Ethnic Studies 16, no. 2 (Summer 1988): 95- 118. Reprinted in East European Jews in America, 1880-1920: Immigration and Adaptation, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock, v. 2: 513-536. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Demonstrates that the Forward's women's page emphasized politics and public affairs, as did the rest of the newspaper, along with Americanization.
Sinkoff, Nancy B. "Educating for `Proper' Jewish Womanhood: A Case Study in Domesticity and Vocational Training, 1897-1926." American Jewish History 77, no. 4 (June 1988): 572-599.
German Jewish women associated with the Clara de Hirsch Home for Working Girls in New York City helped train young Eastern European immigrant women for work and domestic life in America. Their attitude was compassionate but patronizing.
Sochen, June. "Happy Endings, Individualism, and Feminism in American Jewish Life." American Jewish History 81 (Spring/Summer 1994): 340-345.
Included in a thematic issue of American Jewish History devoted to the American dimension of American Jewish history, Sochen speculates on the influence on Judaism of the American regard for individual autonomy and attention to gender. Jewish feminists in her view provide a model of successful integration of Jewish commitment to social justice and American respect for individual rights.
Sochen, June, guest editor. American Jewish History 70, no. 1 (1980).
Thematic issue on American Jewish women's history, including articles by Deborah Grand Golomb on the 1893 Congress of Jewish Women; the New York City Kosher Meat Boycott of 1902, by Paula Hyman; volunteer activists, by June Sochen; Julia Richman's work, by Selma Berrol; Yiddish women writers, by Norma Fain Pratt; images of Jewish women in modern American drama, by Ellen Schiff; and Henry Hurwitz' mother remembered.
Sochen, June. "Some Observations on the Role of the American Jewish Women as Communal Volunteers." American Jewish History 70, no. 1 (1980): 22-34.
Stresses that insufficient attention has been paid by either the Jewish community or historians to the importance of women volunteers, in particular the "professional board ladies," who are professional in all senses of the word, except remuneration.
Stern, Norton B. "The Charitable Jewish Ladies of San Bernadino and Their Woman of Valor, Henrietta Ancker." Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 13, no. 4 (July 1981): 369-376.
Discusses the Henrietta Hebrew Benevolent Society, founded in 1880, and its original guiding light and namesake, Henrietta Ancker. Says that this is the only instance of a Jewish charitable group in the West being named for a person.
Stern, Norton B. "The Jewish Community of a Nevada Mining Town." Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 15, no. 1 (1982): 48-78.
Includes discussion of six Jewish women entrepreneurs who owned grocery stores, a millinery shop, a restaurant, and a boarding house in Eureka Nevada in 1878.
Tenenbaum, Shelly. "The Ways We Were: Buying Chickens, Paying Bills: Jewish Women's Loan Societies." Lilith 16, no. 3 (Summer 1991): 32+.
Highlights information about Jewish women borrowers and lenders that is analyzed thoroughly in her A Credit to Their Community: Jewish Loan Societies in the United States, 1880-1945 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1993).
Toll, William. "The Domestic Basis of Community: Trinidad Colorado's Jewish Women, 1889-1910." Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Notes 8, no. 4 / 9, no. 1 (Summer/Fall 1987). Reprinted in Women, Men and Ethnicity: Essays on the Structure and Thought of American Jewry, by William Toll, 59-70. New York: University Press of America, 1991.
After the founding of the Hebrew Ladies Aid Society in 1899, Trinidad's women gradually became the organizing force for the Jewish community, raising funds for needy members and others and sponsoring social events.
Toll, William. "The Female Life Cycle and the Measure of Jewish Social Change: Portland, Oregon, 1880-1930." American Jewish History 72, no. 3 (1983): 309-332. Reprinted in East European Jews in America, 1880-1920: Immigration and Adaptation, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock, v. 3: 309-332. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Applies sociological methods to Jewish history. Examines changes in indicators from the life cycle of women, including age at marriage, differential age between wife and husband, number of children, and work history to understand how the Jewish community develops over time. While differences exist between women of German or Eastern European origin, American-born daughters of both groups shared a marked decline in family size and increase in work participation.
Toll, William. "A Quiet Revolution: Jewish Women's Clubs and the Widening Female Sphere, 1870-1920." American Jewish Archives 41, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 1989): 7- 26.
How middle-class American Jewish women regarded themselves and their sense of purpose underwent a major shift during this time period. At first Jewish women, like their Protestant counterparts, did "instinctive nurturing" -- informal, sisterly work on behalf of needy Jews, as part of their religious obligation. When specialized institutions took over these general benevolent functions, this role faded. By the 1890s they were attempting to better the lives of the less-fortunate Jews and non-Jews by applying principles from the new field of social science. They formed settlement houses and educated themselves to become politically astute, informed advocates for improvements in public health and a variety of social issues.
Umansky, Ellen. "Feminism and American Reform Judaism." In The Americanization of the Jews, ed. Robert M. Seltzer and Norman J. Cohen, 267-283. New York: New York University Press, 1995.
Discusses why it took Reform Judaism until the late 1960s to decide to ordain women rabbis even though the Movement from its mid-nineteenth century inception espoused an egalitarian philosophy. According to Umansky, the stance was more theoretical than practical. It required impetus from social changes in the 1960s to create a climate of receptivity. Those changes included more Protestant denominations ordaining women, actual qualified women who were considering the rabbinate, a shortage of rabbis in the Movement, and some indication that congregations would be willing to accept women rabbis. While the decision to admit women to rabbinical study was made before the modern women's movement had gotten off the ground, it subsequently influenced developments in all aspects of Reform Judaism. The nature of the rabbinate and cantorate began to change in response to feminist notions of balance, intimacy, and empowerment. Lay leadership, religious education, liturgy, receptivity to women's midrashim (textual interpretations), acceptance of patrilineal descent, and endorsement of ordination for gay and lesbian Jews are all attributable in whole or in part to feminism.
Umansky, Ellen M. "Spiritual Expressions: Jewish Women's Religious Lives in the Twentieth-Century United States." In Jewish Women in Historical Perspective, ed. Judith R. Baskin, 265-288. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1992.
Examines the nature of Jewish women's religious lives beyond the study of religious texts and participation in communal worship, which constitute the traditional definition of Judaism. Umansky finds philanthropic and educational endeavors by Jewish women to be steeped in religious values and spiritual meaning. Likewise, literary writers like Elizabeth Stern and Anzia Yezierska evidenced struggles with religious identity, and Josephine Lazarus wrote an explicitly theological tract, Spirit of Judaism (1896). In the 1920s Martha Neumark sought ordination from the Reform movement, arguing that women were in fact better suited for a Reform rabbinate than men, since most of the people attending services were women who could better identify spiritually with a woman rabbi. In the last twenty years women rabbis have added a personal approach to sermons, and many Jewish feminists have created new rituals. These themes are further explored and documented in her Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality (with Diane Ashton, Beacon Press, 1992).
Walden, Daniel, ed. Studies in American Jewish Literature, no. 3. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983.
Entire issue devoted to Jewish women writers and the portrayal of women in American Jewish literature, with contributions by June Sochen ("Identities Within Identity: Thoughts on Jewish American Women Writers"); Norma Fain Pratt ("Anna Margolin's Lider: A Study in Women's History, Autobiography, and Poetry"); articles by Susan Kress, Rose Kamel, Ellen Golub, and Susan Hersh Sachs on Anzia Yezierska; considerations of Grace Paley (by Dena Mandel) and Cynthia Ozick (by Deborah Heiligman Weiner); and the image of women in the writings of twentieth-century male Jewish authors.
Watkins, Susan Cotts and Angela D. Danzi. "Women's Gossip and Social Change: Childbirth and Fertility Control Among Italian and Jewish Women in the United States, 1920-1940." Gender & Society 9, no. 4 (August 1995): 469-490.
Through interviews with elderly Jewish and Italian women in New York and Philadelphia, Watkins and Danzi find differences in their acceptance of birth control and of hospitals as desired places for births. The authors attribute the variation to differences between Jewish and Italian social networks. Jewish women had a larger and more varied circle with whom to exchange ideas, and the greater number of Jewish medical professionals in their personal networks also influenced their ability to accept new practices. An interesting contribution to the study of ethnic differences in the acceptance of new health care practices that listens carefully to what the women were saying.
"We Honor Our Founding Mothers," Na'amat Woman 5, no. 4 (September/October 1990): 4-10+ and 5, no. 5 (November/December 1990): 16-20.
In celebration of the sixty-five birthday of Na'amat USA (formerly Pioneer Women), several members offer reminiscences of their mothers who worked tirelessly for the organization. "Pioneer Women/Na'amat USA was her life," say Edith Gates, daughter of Rose Brooker, but it could have been said about all the women mentioned. They lived in New York, Milwaukee, Sioux City, Iowa, and many other places, but shared a common vision of bettering the lives of women and children in Israel and the United States.
Weinberg, Sydney Stahl. "Jewish Mothers and Immigrant Daughters: Positive and Negative Role Models." Journal of American Ethnic History 9 (Spring 1987): 39-55. Reprinted in Mothers and Motherhood: Readings in American History, eds. Rima D. Apple and Janet Golden, 334-350, Columbus, OH: Ohio University Press, 1997, and in East European Jews in America, 1880-1920: Immigration and Adaptation, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock, v. 2: 559-575. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Immigrant daughters interviewed viewed their mothers as role models in selflessness, as managers of the family, and savvy "powers behind the throne," who made it appear as if their husbands were making decisions for the family. Most mothers were more accepting of the Americanization of their children than were the fathers, and where family finances permitted, they encouraged their daughters to get an education. A few of the daughters, who associated their mothers with the background they wanted to shed, had more distant relationships with them. These daughters also considered their mothers to be role models, but in a negative way.
Wenger, Beth S. "Jewish Women and Voluntarism: Beyond the Myth of Enablers." American Jewish History 79, no. 1 (Autumn 1989): 16-36. Reprinted in East European Jews in America, 1880-1920: Immigration and Adaptation, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock, v. 1: 375-395. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Attributes the persistence of the view of women as only facilitators whose actions empowered others, even after they had become activists in their own right, to the fact that thinking of women as "enablers" meant there was no need to redefine gender roles.
Wenger, Beth S. "Jewish Women of the Club: The Changing Public Role of Atlanta's Jewish Women (1870-1930)." American Jewish History 76, no 3 (March 1987): 311-333.
Argues that clubs moved Jewish women out of the home and into public life in Jewish institutions and the general community of Atlanta earlier than this happened in Northern communities.
Zandy, Janet. "Our True Legacy: Radical Jewish Women in America." Lilith 14, no. 1 (Winter 1989): 8-13.
Recalls the strikers, union leaders, and women's rights activists who can serve as models of "applied spirituality and courageous disobedience."
Collections of Memoirs, Oral Histories, and Creative WritingsFor editions of published memoirs by individuals, see their entries in Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. Numerous other unpublished memoirs by women are found in archives throughout North America.
Antler, Joyce, ed. America and I: Short Stories by American Jewish Women Writers. Boston: Beacon Press, 1990. 355 p.
Arranged historically, this anthology takes readers on a tour through Jewish women's experience in America as registered by the creative imagination of twenty-three gifted authors, from Mary Antin and Edna Ferber writing in the second decade of this century through Cynthia Ozick, Grace Paley, and others in the 1980s. Antler's introductory essay reviews the recurrent Jewish themes in the writing (assimilation versus tradition, loss of identity, unfamiliar cultures, quest for moral meaning in Judaism, antisemitism, marginality, generational conflict, social commitments, and the importance of writing) and provides a historical/biographical context for the selections.
Blicksilver, Edith, ed. The Ethnic American Woman: Problems, Protests, Lifestyle. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 1978. 381 p. and rev. ed., 1989, 471 p.
Jewish women's voices chime in throughout this anthology, with selections ranging from union leader Rose Schneiderman on her childhood to Judith Plaskow's 1973 address on Jewish feminism at a National Jewish Women's Conference.
Fishman, Sylvia Barack, ed. Follow My Footprints: Changing Images of Women in American Jewish Fiction. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England for Brandeis University, 1992. 506 p.
Anthology of short stories and excerpts from novels that trace the development of the self-sacrificing mother in nineteenth-century Yiddish literature (from I.L. Peretz, Sholom Aleichem, and others) into the domineering, overprotective mother and her materialistic princess daughter in twentieth-century American works most associated with Philip Roth. Adds section by contemporary women writers (from Tillie Olsen, Grace Paley, Cynthia Ozick, and more) who write of the struggles of women protagonists balancing American and Jewish values. Fishman opens with an essay on the historical position of women in Jewish life and provides brief introductions to each selection.
Frommer, Myrna Katz and Harvey Frommer. Growing Up Jewish in America: An Oral History. New York, Harcourt, 1995. 264 p.
Almost half the voices of teachers, writers, librarians, administrators, business people, Jewish communal workers, and other twentieth-century Jews in this entertaining collective memoir are women's.
Kaye/Kantrowitz, Melanie and Irena Klepfisz, eds. The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women's Anthology. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989. 360 p.
Diverse collection of poems, stories, interviews, and essays by Jewish women past and present from the United States, Europe, and Israel. Irena Klepfisz' essay on secular Jewish identity ("Yidishkayt in America"), Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz' "To Be a Radical Jew in Late Twentieth Century," and Bernice Mennis' "Jewish and Working Class" are moving statements of their Jewish connections. Other contents of historical interest include a story and poem by immigrant Yiddish writer Fradel Schtok, translated by Klepfisz, an interview with long-term political activist Lil Moed, and Sarah Schulman's "When We Were Very Young: A Walking Tour Through Radical Jewish Women's History on the Lower East Side, 1879-1919." A version of The Tribe of Dina appeared as issue 29/30 of Sinister Wisdom in 1986.
Kramer, Sydelle, and Jenny Masur, eds. Jewish Grandmothers. Boston: Beacon Press, 1976. 174 p.
Gripping oral histories of ten elderly women in Chicago, whose collective lives stand for the experiences of thousands of "ordinary" Jewish immigrants. What emerges from the narratives are portraits of risk-takers, rebels against traditional attitudes, and women fiercely committed to education.
Krause, Corinne Azen. Grandmothers, Mothers and Daughters: Oral Histories of Three Generations of Ethnic American Women. Boston: Twayne, 1991. 231 p.
Based on oral histories conducted for the study "Women, Ethnicity, and Mental Health," sponsored by the American Jewish Committee in the 1970s, this is a highly accessible book for the general reader. In assessing the interviews with successive generations in the same families, Krause found that what each grandmother thought and said affected how her daughter and granddaughter lived their lives. Jewish grandmothers in the study often had worked in factories before marriage and in husband-wife businesses afterwards, yet did not consider their role in the businesses as "work." Instead, they "helped out," but their real focus was on their children. The daughter generation was better educated, but also centered on raising families and on the accomplishments of their children. The granddaughters had still more education than their mothers, and, influenced by feminism, careers that they valued. Includes edited narratives of three generations of two Jewish families, with similar chapters for Slavic and Italian women. Krause re-interviewed the women still alive in 1989 and added updated information. The Jewish women's family lines are Sylvia Sacks Glosser-Naomi Cohen-Cathy Droz and Eva Rubenstein Dizenfeld- Belle Stock-Ruth Zober.
Marks, Marlene Adler, ed. Nice Jewish Girls: Growing Up in America. New York: Plume, 1996. 292 p.
Collection of over forty coming-of-age stories by established writers such as Vivian Gornick, Erica Jong, and Grace Paley, and newer writers Carolyn White, Karen Golden, and others. Engagement with Judaism and Jewishness characterizes the stories as a whole. Sections of the book focus successively on events in early childhood, memories of Jewish rituals, adolescent experiences, and encounters with the non-Jewish world.
Matza, Diane, ed. Sephardic-American Voices: Two Hundred Years of a Literary Legacy. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England for Brandeis University Press, 1997. 363 p.
Recovers the words of a minority-within-a-minority, whose works are at the margins of both mainstream and Jewish American writings. According to Matza, Sephardic literature is marked by its cosmopolitanism, the confidence of its women writers, and the examination of patriarchal culture by both men and women. Fourteen of the thirty writers included are women. Descendants of colonial Sephardim, Penina Moise, Emma Lazarus, and Annie Nathan Meyer represent "insiders," who feel quite at home in America, while Gloria De Vidas Kirchheimer, Rosaly DeMaios Roffman, Emma Adatto Schlesinger, Rae Dalven, and Ruth Behar are twentieth-century writers who display attachments to the world left behind. The only anthology of its kind, this collection is an eye-opener to the unrecognized contribution of Sephardic women and men to American Jewish literature.
Mazow, Julie Wolf, ed. The Woman Who Lost Her Names: Selected Writings of American Jewish Women. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1980. 222 p.
Selections were chosen in which the writers reveal positive views of themselves as women and as Jews (unlike the image of Jewish women found in literature by Jewish men), replete with examples of the importance to them of tradition and family. Most are contemporary writers, but Anzia Yezierska and Emma Goldman are included as well.
Moskowitz, Faye, ed. Her Face in the Mirror: Jewish Women on Mothers and Daughters. Boston: Beacon Press, 1994. 314 p.
Stories, poems, essays, and novel excerpts written since 1945 on facets of the complex relationship between Jewish mothers and daughters. The mother-daughter theme captures the differences between two post-war generations (more limited lives for the mothers; more dangers for the daughters) of American Jewish women. Many of the writers are assimilated Jews who write as outsiders to Jewish life. A few are returning from non-observant backgrounds to tradition. Good mix of all types of women, working class to wealthy, heterosexual and lesbian.
Niederman, Sharon, ed. Shaking Eve's Tree: Short Stories of Jewish Women. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1990. 279 p.
This is the first short story collection of works consciously both Jewish and feminist. The stories explore what it means to be a Jewish female from her point of view and probe the depths of Jewish identity in America today. Like Her Face in the Mirror (above) mother-daughter relationships are also an important theme in this anthology by contemporary American Jewish women writers.
Rubin, Steven J. Writing Our Lives: Autobiographies of American Jews, 1890-1990. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1991. 347 p.
Combines in one volume characteristic excerpts from twenty-six autobiographies, including eleven by women. The book is divided into three historical periods, with the earliest featuring writers born around the turn of the century. The immigrant writers Mary Antin, Rebekah Kohut, and Golda Meir sought ways to define themselves within a new culture; their stories become the collective experience of the Jewish people. Edna Ferber is the only American-born writer included from that period. Her experience differs from the others because she deals with small-town Jewish life in the Midwest. The second section includes selections from the children of immigrants, now more assimilated into American culture but aware of the losses of tradition. Feminists Kate Simon and Faye Moskowitz and historian of the Holocaust Lucy Dawidowicz are the women contributors from this period. The three females in the last section have had very different lives. Vivian Gornick's emphasis on understanding the bond between her immigrant mother and herself epitomizes the experience of a generation of contemporary Jewish women. Holocaust survivor Isabella Leitner's Saving the Fragments: From Auschwitz to New York (1985) is representative of many survivor autobiographies that deal with unspeakable memories of concentration camps as well as adjusting to life afterwards. Eva Hoffman was born in Poland at the close of the War and came to Canada as a thirteen-year-old. She, too, must adjust to a new life, but her focus is on the relationship between identity and lost language. These excerpts are well-chosen from published autobiographies; eloquent unpublished accounts preserved in archives await a similar treatment.
Rubin-Dorsky, Jeffrey and Shelley Fisher Fishkin, eds. People of the Book: Thirty Scholars Reflect on Their Jewish Identity. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996. 507 p.
Richly textured autobiographical accounts by contemporary academics reflecting on their connections to Jewishness, in particular inquiring of themselves how their scholarship is influenced by being Jewish. Sixteen of the thirty are women. These feminist literary critics, anthropologists, and others have achieved the pinnacle of secular intellectual success, beyond the dreams of their mothers, immigrant grandmothers, and earlier forebears. Each must confront the meaning of gender as well as ethnicity in their search for identity.
Seller, Marine Schwartz, ed. Immigrant Women. 2nd ed. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994. 378 p.
Jewish women's writing featured includes that of Golda Meir, Emma Goldman, and Anzia Yezierska, as well as excerpts from scholarly writing on Jewish women: "Urbanization Without Breakdown," on adaptations to America by Italian, Slavic and Jewish women, by Corinne Azen Krause; and "Strategies for Growing Old: Basha is a Survivor," from Number Our Days, by Barbara Myerhoff (Dutton, 1978). The first edition of Immigrant Women contains additional essays from Jewish women, including statements by Ernestine Rose and Rose Schneiderman, and excerpts from The Jewish Woman in America, by Charlotte Baum, Paula Hyman, and Sonya Michel (New York: Dial, 1976).
Umansky, Ellen M. and Dianne Ashton, eds. Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality: A Sourcebook. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992. 350 p.
Since Umansky and Ashton have an expansive definition of spirituality, encompassing thoughts and deeds of social reformers, literary authors, and Jewish communal leaders imbued with spiritual feelings, this anthology has numerous selections of relevance to all aspects of Jewish women's history. Although the book begins in the sixteenth century, most of the voices heard are nineteenth-and twentieth-century Americans. Umansky's essay, "Piety, Persuasion, and Friendship: A History of Jewish Women's Spirituality," characterizes women's spirituality historically as private, spontaneous, and emotional; and introduces the forms of spiritual expression: diaries, memoirs, letters, speeches, sermons, creative writing, and, in late twentieth century, new rituals marking events in women's lives.