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Jewish Studies

Kicking Off Jewish American Heritage Month

Here at JWA, every day we celebrate the lives of American Jewish women and their contributions to our history. We commemorate their lives and accomplishments and share their stories with visitors from all over the world. For this Jewish American Heritage Month, we are partnering with Kveller.com, a parenting website with a fresh Jewish twist. JWA and Kveller are teaming up to bring to light lesser-known stories of Jewish American women whose legacies live on—and inspire-- today.

Paula Hyman

Paula Hyman’s work as a historian recovered the stories of Jewish women’s pasts, while her work as a member of Ezrat Nashim helped create new possibilities for their future by pushing the Conservative Movement to ordain women rabbis.

Amy Eilberg

The first woman rabbi ordained by the Conservative Movement, Amy Eilberg forged her own path as a chaplain and pastoral counselor.

Gertrude Wishnick Dubrovsky, 1926 - 2012

Gertrude Wishnick Dubrovsky’s parents immigrated to the United States from Poland around the turn of the last century. Early in their marriage, they made an unsuccessful try at farming and then operated a hand laundry on New York’s Lower East Side. With the help of a land grant from Jewish charities set up for that purpose, they tried again, joining a community of Jewish farmers in Farmingdale, NJ.

Tefillin Barbie: Considering Gender and Ritual Garb

Do women in your community wear tefillin and tallit when they pray? Do you? For many, the relationship between gender and ritual garb is still evolving, as Jews consider their personal and communal associations with these objects and practices. This Go & Learn guide uses the provocative image of "Tefillin Barbie"—created in 2006 by soferet (ritual scribe) Jen Taylor Friedman—to explore issues of gender, ritual, and body image.

Lilith Evolved: Writing Midrash

In this Go and Learn, guide, we explore the notion of midrash and highlight "The Coming of Lilith" by theologian Judith Plaskow as an example of how contemporary Jewish feminists have created their own midrashim—retellings of biblical stories—in order to incorporate women's viewpoints into the traditional texts of Judaism. In writing their own versions of these texts, Plaskow and her peers have made Judaism more inclusive of the voices and perspectives of all people who engage in its teachings.

Immigration and Generations: Anzia Yezierska's Children of Loneliness

The experience of immigration brings many challenges. Immigrant families are subjected to discrimination, culture shock, pressure to assimilate, and poverty. These experiences hurt both individuals and families, often pulling parents and children apart from each other. In this Go & Learn guide, we feature a short story by immigrant writer Anzia Yezierska, titled Children of Loneliness. The story illustrates how one young woman's struggle to find her own place in American society tears her from her parents and their way of life.

Queen Esther and Bella Abzug: Costumes, Leadership, and Identity

On Purim we dress in costume to create a new persona. We delight in unexpected images. We poke holes in the humdrum everyday roles of men and women, rich and poor, young and old. Our assumptions about people shift, and thus, the holiday transforms us.

Writing Home: A Letter from an Early American Jew

We know little about Rebecca Samuel, the author of the featured document in this guide, outside of what her letters provide for us: a slice of her life as a Jewish woman in early America. In this letter, originally written in Yiddish in the 1790s to her parents in Hamburg, Germany, Samuel describes her life in Petersburg, Virginia. She vividly portrays the challenges of keeping a Jewish household, her wishes for her children, and her excitement about the prospect of moving to Charleston, South Carolina. This Go & Learn guide uses Rebecca Samuel’s captivating letter as a centerpiece for interactive sessions about Jewish immigration and the development of the Jewish community in America.

Pages

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Studies." (Viewed on October 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/jewish-studies>.

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