“I am not the ideal Jewish woman,” Joan Rivers admits in a comedy act filmed in the Jewish Women’s Archive film, Making Trouble. “I love to take [my audience] to the edge,” she says. “I love to get them upset . . . And ruin their value system.” Known for her aggressiveness and her “unkosher” bawdy style, in critic Sarah Cohen’s words, Rivers (nee Joan Molinsky), Phi Beta Kappa Barnard graduate and daughter of a Brooklyn Jewish doctor, performed for over forty years.
Adapted from The Journey Home: How Jewish Women Shaped Modern America, by Joyce Antler (Schocken Books, 1997).
Bel Kaufman, the daughter of East European immigrants and granddaughter of Yiddish novelist Sholom Aleichem, emigrated from Odessa with her family in 1923 when she was twelve, quickly learned English, and used the public libraries voraciously.
Gerda Lerner, pioneer in women’s history, remarkable public intellectual, and life-long activist, died this week in Wisconsin at the age of 92. A member of JWA’s Academic Advisory Council, she was enthusiastic about our mission of chronicling and transmitting the history of Jewish women. No historian was more identified with the field of women’s history. Receiving her Ph.D. at the age of 46, she wrote a series of groundbreaking books in which she almost singlehandedly created a conceptual framework for the field.
Amy Chua’s article in The Wall Street Journal last week, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” has stirred up a firestorm of comment, with literally thousands of mothers and their friends weighing in on Chua’s harsh treatment of her daughters—an approach Chua defines as “Chinese” as opposed to a more permissive “Western” strategy. Inevitably, a comparison to the famed Jewish mother arises, and for good reason.
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Jewish Women's Archive. " Joyce Antler ." (Viewed on March 8, 2021) <https://jwa.org/blog/author/joyce-antler>.