Annotated Bibliography and Guide to Archival Resources on the History of Jewish Women in America
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. America: History and Life database 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 Jewish Feminist Journal, Hadassah Magazine, and denominational periodicals aimed at women. The view from women’s studies can be traced by using Women Studies Abstracts 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.
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, and a fourth lists websites on American Jewish women’s history. Major archival resources are described in the last section.
Agosin, Marjorie. Uncertain Travelers: Conversations With Jewish Women Immigrants to America. Ed. and Annotator Mary G. Berg. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, for Brandeis University Press, 1999. 214 p.
Interviews with nine women who arrived in the United States from Latin America and Europe between 1939 and 1970. They discuss their childhood experiences in wartime, their education, anti-Semitism encountered in their homeland and in the U.S., and their families, careers, and emotional lives. The women are social worker Zezette Larsen (b. Brussels, 1929), microbiologist Elena Ottolenghi Nightingale (b. Livorno, Italy, 1932), social work professor Susan Bendor (b. Budapest, 1937), psychologist Matilde Salganicoff (b. Buenos Aires, 1930), Renata Brailovsky (b. Breslau, Germany [now Poland], 1931; moved to Chile, then to the U.S.), Harvard professor of French and comparative literature Susan Rubin Suleiman (b. Budapest, 1939), psychotherapist Katherine Scherzer Wenger (b. Satu Mare, Romania, 1950), neonatologist Silvia Zeldis Testa (b. Valparaiso, Chile, 1950), and anthropologist Ruth Behar (b. Havana, 1956).
Antin, Mary. Selected Letters of Mary Antin. Ed. Evelyn Salz. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1999. 160 p.
Collection of 150 letters that provide a fuller portrait of Antin than do her published works. Salz finds the letters “affirm her ardent patriotism but reveal her concerns that she give an accurate portrayal of Russian Jewish history. They document her firm belief in open immigration and the possibility of citizen action to bring about political change. They record her Zionist work. And, finally, they lay bare the depths of despair that the end of her marriage caused” (p. xxii).
Antler, Joyce, ed. Talking Back: Images of Jewish Women in American Popular Culture. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, for Brandeis University Press, 1998. 301 p.
Essays analyze the images of Jewish women in mass media, narratives, and stories from throughout the twentieth century. Antler sees two parallel developments reflected: 1) Jewish women were regarded in multiple ways within the context of their times, and 2) images of Jewish women helped create an American Jewish cultural identity, a necessary prerequisite for becoming American. Jewish women themselves had many means of response, from internalized self-hatred and attempts to “pass” as non-Jewish to “talking back” to the image creators. Contents: “Translating Immigrant Women: Surfacing the Manifold Self,” by Janet Burstein; “Projected Images: Portraits of Jewish Women in Early American Film,” by Sharon Pucker Rivo; “The ‘Me’ of Me: Voices of Jewish Girls in Adolescent Diaries of the 1920s and 1950s,” by Joan Jacobs Brumberg; “From Sophie Tucker to Barbra Streisand: Jewish Women Entertainers As Reformers,” by June Sochen; “The Jewish-American World of Gertrude Berg: the Goldbergs on Radio and Television, 1930–1950,” by Donald Weber; “Sweet Natalie: Herman Wouk’s Messenger to the Gentiles,” by Susanne Klingenstein; “Cinderellas Who (Almost) Never Become Princesses: Subversive Representations of Jewish Women in Postwar Popular Novels, by Riv-Ellen Prell; “Faith and Puttermesser: Contrasting Images of Two Jewish Feminists,” by Bonnie Lyons; “Our Mothers and Our Sisters and Our Cousins and Our Aunts: Dialogues and Dynamics in Literature and Film,” by Sylvia Barack Fishman; “The Way She Really Is: Images of Jews and Women in the Films of Barbra Streisand,” by Felicia Herman; “From Critic to Playwright: Fleshing Out Jewish Women in Contemporary Drama,” by Sarah Blacher Cohen; “Eschewing Esther/Embracing Esther: the Changing Representation of Biblical Heroines,” by Gail Twersky Reimer; “Claiming Our Questions: Feminism and Judaism in Women’s Haggadot,” by Maida E. Solomon; “Epilogue: Jewish Women on Television: Too Jewish or Not Enough?” by Joyce Antler.
———. 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.
Apte, Helen Jacobus. Heart of a Wife: The Diary of a Southern Jewish Woman. Ed. Marcus D. Rosenbaum. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1998. 222 p.
Personal life of a Jewish woman born in Georgia in 1889 who spent her married life in Tampa, Miami, and Atlanta. The diary spans 1909–1946, with contextual historical commentary and editing by her grandson, journalist Rosenbaum.
Ashton, Dianne. Rebecca Gratz: Women and Judaism in Antebellum America. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1997. 329 p.
Tells Gratz’s life story (1781–1869) set in the context of the Civil War and other events and important themes characteristic of 19th century Jewish life in America: assimilation, developing an Americanized religious education, incorporating increasing numbers of poor immigrant Jews, withstanding conversion, and Anti-Semitism. Gratz, who never married, devoted herself to her large extended family and to Jewish causes. She founded the first independent Jewish women’s charitable society (Female Hebrew Benevolent Society), the first Jewish Sunday school (Hebrew Sunday School), and the first American Jewish foster home. These organizations were soon copied elsewhere. In creating institutional structures that suited American Jewish life, Gratz’s influence on the development of American Judaism was immense.
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.
Benson, Evelyn Rose. As We See Ourselves: Jewish Women in Nursing. Indianapolis, IN: Center Nursing Publishing, 2001. 196 p.
Seeks to fill the gap in nursing history, women’s history, and Jewish history by “identifying the Jewish presence in nursing and by describing the contribution of Jewish women to nursing” (Preface). Most of the book focuses on American women. Covers both the promotion of nursing as a career in such publications as The American Jewess, and a negative attitude on the part of some Jewish parents towards that profession for their daughters. Profiles prominent women such as Lillian Wald and numerous other Jewish women nurses, including many who responded to a survey the author distributed in 1990, and discusses the creation that same year of Hadassah’s National Center for Nurses Councils.
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.
Coan, Peter M. Ellis Island Interviews: In Their Own Words. New York: Facts on File, 1997. 432 p.
Among the 140 oral history interviews conducted through the 1990s and sampled in the book, of people who entered the United States through Ellis Island, are life stories of numerous Jewish women from throughout Europe, as well as one each from Turkey and Palestine. The volume was produced in cooperation with the Ellis Island Research Foundation. Except for a few well-known immigrants, the narrators are referred to by pseudonyms.
Cohen, Sandor B. Women in the Military: a Jewish Perspective. Washington, DC: National Museum of American Jewish Military History, 1999. 72 p.
Catalog of an exhibition held at the Museum in 1999. Replete with photographs tracing the history of women in the military and highlighting the participation of Jewish women. Twelve Jewish women, for example, were included in the first graduating class of officers in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), Fort Des Moines, Iowa, August 1942. Women from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, and other states reminisce about their stints in the WAACs (and its successor after 1943, the Women’s Army Corps, or WACs), the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs), and the Navy Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVEs). Military nurses from Confederate hospital matron Phoebe Levy Pember through Vietnam nurse Marita Silverman, and chaplains Rabbi Bonnie Koppel and Rabbi Chana Timoner are also featured. Since 1978 women serve in the regular armed forces rather than in special corps, and Jewish women have continued to be represented among them.
Coser, Rose Laub, Laura S. Anker, and Andrew J. Perrin. Women of Courage: Jewish and Italian Immigrant Women in New York. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999. 162 p.
Based on interviews with women who came to America after World War II collected as part of a “World of Our Mothers” project conducted in the early 1980s, this work is a collaboration between a sociologist (Coser) and historian (Anker). Coser wrote Part One: “Immigrant Women and Families” (edited by Perrin following Coser’s death), and Anker Part Two: “Women, Work, and Migration.” Extensive quotations from the interviews let the women speak for themselves. Among the findings is that work outside the home was very important to the majority of women in establishing their self-worth and for the female friendships forged in the workplace. One significant difference between the Jewish and Italian women was that the Jewish women received more help from relatives and organizations than did their Italian counterparts. The authors deposited the complete interview transcripts in the Henry A. Murray Research Center, Radcliffe Institute.
Danzi, Angela D. From Home to Hospital: Jewish and Italian American Women and Childbirth, 1920–1940. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1997. 200 p.
Contrasts the choice of most Jewish women giving birth after 1920 to consult physicians and have their babies in hospitals with the varying patterns of Italian women. Some Italians continued to give birth at home, assisted by midwives; others went to hospitals. Still others had their first births at home and later deliveries in hospitals. Danzi’s interviews reveal that the choices were shaped by advice from women relatives and friends and personal relationships with physicians.
Diner, Hasia R., and Beryl Lieff Benderly. Her Works Praise Her: A History of Jewish Women in American from Colonial Times to the Present. New York: Basic Books, 2002. 462 p.
Distills a generation of scholarship on the history of Jewish women in America into a sustained and lively narrative that emphasizes the influence of gender on all facets of the lives of Jewish women (and men). Supports the notion that without an understanding of the distinctive experiences of Jewish women with respect to education, family, work, community, and leisure, American Jewish history is incomplete and inaccurate. While primarily a social history, Her Works Praise Her is filled with portraits of individual women, some already renowned and others deserving to be better known.
Epstein, Helen, ed. Jewish Women 2000: Conference Papers From the HRIJW International Scholarly Exchanges, 1997–1998. Working Paper, 6. Waltham, MA: Hadassah Research Institute on Jewish Women, 1999. 242 p.
Among the papers are three that address North American Jewish women’s history and contemporary status: “Jewish Women in the United States,” by Riv-Ellen Prell; “Canadian Jewish and Female,” by Norma Baumel Joseph; and “Bookends,” by Pamela S. Nadell, which discusses the writing of Jewish women’s history from The Jewish Woman in America, ed. by Charlotte Baum, Paula Hyman, and Sonya Michel (Dial Press, 1975) through Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Paula E. Hyman and Deborah Dash Moore (Routledge, 1997) and her Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women’s Ordination, 1889–1985 (Beacon Press, 1998).
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.
Feldberg, Michael, ed. Blessings of Freedom: Chapters in American Jewish History. Hoboken, NJ: Ktav Publishing House, in association with the American Jewish Historical Society, 2002. 243 p.
Compilation of 120 of the weekly “Chapters in American Jewish History” columns in the English-language Jewish newspaper, The Forward, from 1997 onward, written by Feldberg. Women who have been the subject of these vignettes include (in the order in which they appear in the book): Abigail Levy Franks, Emma Goldman, Rebecca Gratz, Penina Moise, Alice Davis Menken, Emma Lazarus, Tiby Savitt, Ernestine Rose, Frances Wisebart Jacobs, Minnie Low, Celia Greenstone, Regina Margareten, Lane Bryant Malsin, Henrietta Szold, Golda Meir, and Ruth Gruber. Each column is approximately 800 words.
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.
Ford, Carol Bell. The Girls: Jewish Women of Brownsville, Brooklyn, 1940–1995. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000. 217 p.
Based on oral history interviews, The Girls examines the lives of 41 Jewish women from the same neighborhood in Brooklyn who came of age in two decades, the 1940s and 1950s. While women of both decades were expected to work only until marriage, the work choice of the 1940s cohort was by and large restricted to office work, whereas some of the 1950s women attended college and became teachers. Many in both groups re-entered the workforce by the late 1960s—the 1940s women mostly to offices and the 1950s group to a variety of careers following a return to college for completion of undergraduate and graduate degrees. Adds significantly to the scant information on Jewish women of the post-war period.
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 meant for these women. The main question she poses is “Was the experience empowering or disempowering?” But she found there was 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 reminiscences 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, 1976–77.
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.
Goldman, Karla. Beyond the Synagogue Gallery: Finding a Place for Women in American Judaism. Harvard University Press, 2000. 275 p.
Traces how the “redefinition of women’s religious place,” achieved through step-by-step elimination of separate seating by sex in the sanctuary, the introduction of organs and mixed choirs, and expansion of roles for women in communal organizations, was used by nineteenth century male leaders of Reform Judaism to Americanize their movement. These reforms, along with others that created a more decorous atmosphere in the sanctuary emulated middle and upper class Protestant churches in an attempt to gain respectability. Women were no mere bystanders to change. They founded temple sisterhoods and the National Council of Jewish Women, moving American Jewish women to a more “conspicuous public religious identity” (p.172). Goldman situates these developments within the context of nineteenth century American Jewish life and society at large.
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 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 baleboste’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 mitzva 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 E. Jewish Feminism Faces the American Women’s Movement: Convergence and Divergence. Ann Arbor: Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, 1997. 20 p.
In this David W. Belin Lecture in American Jewish Affairs, Hyman reflects on the origins and development of Jewish feminism in the 1960s and early 1970s, as affected by the American women’s movement, and later inward turn towards influencing Jewish institutions, religious practices, and the field of Jewish Studies. Finds most Jewish feminists to be in the liberal feminist camp, striving for equality, except among the Orthodox, who favor an essentialist feminist view in which women are nurturers with a higher degree of spirituality.
———. 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.
Jackson, Naomi M. Convergent Movements: Modern Dance and Jewish Culture at the 92nd Street Y. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2000. 288 p.
In this study of the influence of the 92nd Street Y on dance history from the 1930s through the 1950s, much attention is paid to the contribution of Jews in shaping contemporary dance. Chapter 7, “Synthesizing the Universal and Particular: Producing ‘Jewish Dance’ at the Y” (pp. 171–206) describes several individual Jewish dancers and choreographers, mostly female, who performed works with Jewish themes at the Y, including Lillian Shapero, Sophie Maslow, Anna Sokolow, Pearl Lang, and Katya Delakova.
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,” 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. Aspiring Women: A History of the Jewish Foundation for Education of Women. New York: Jewish Foundation for Education of Women, 1996. 76 p.
History spanning some 115 years and numerous name changes of a New York City institution devoted to educational opportunities for women. Begins in 1880, with the Downtown Sabbath School (later the Hebrew Technical School for Girls), where founder Minnie Louis and her staff dispensed “religion and cookies in equal measure” (p. 6). Describes the cultural and vocational training offered early in the twentieth century and the shift in the 1930s to offering college scholarships, eventually to both Jewish and non-Jewish young women. Includes numerous photographs.
———. 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 Nachas”) is particularly noteworthy. Here Joselit discerns the origins of the Jewish mother stereotype in the works of health professionals (“The Jewish mother betray[s] an unusual amount of concern about the problem of feeding her children,” 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.
Kafka, Phillipa, ed. “Lost on the Map of the World”: Jewish-American Women’s Quest for Home in Essays and Memoirs, 1890–Present. New York: Peter Lang, 2001. 255 p.
Contains an excerpt from Dina Elenbogen’s manuscript Drawn From Water: An American Poet Encounters Israel and the Ethiopian Jews, articles on Anzia Yezierska’s The Bread Givers (by Philippe Codde), E.M. Broner’s A Weave of Women (by Ranen Omer-Sherman), and Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying (by Tobin Belzer), as well as contemporary essays by Barbara Finkelstein, Batya Weinbaum, Ruth Knafo Setton, and Phillipa Kafka, all of which dwell on aspects of Jewish American women’s identity and search for “home.”
Kalinowski, Andrea. Stories Untold: Jewish Pioneer Women 1850–1910: The Art of Andrea Kalinowski. Santa Fe: Santa Fe Museum of Fine Arts, distributed by the Museum of New Mexico Press, 2002. 32 p.
Catalog of a traveling exhibit organized by the Museum of Fine Arts of the work of Andrea Kalinowski who designed quilt patterns to tell the stories of individual Jewish women pioneers. Each quilt design is accompanied by an excerpt from a memoir or archival resource. The catalog includes an interview with Kalinowski and color reproductions of ten quilts and their accompanying stories.
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.
Kolmerten, Carol A. The American Life of Ernestine L. Rose. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1999. 300 p.
Biography of an atheist, socialist, freethinking suffrage leader and fiery orator, born in Poland to a rabbi and his wife in 1810. She lived in America from 1836–1869, where she campaigned vigorously for women’s rights; but as a foreigner and Jew (despite her atheism), she was considered an outsider by other leaders of the American women’s movement, and she spent the rest of her life in England.
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.
———, 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.
Levin, Martin, and Esther Kustanowitz. It Takes a Dream: The Story of Hadassah. Hewlett, NY: Gefen, 2002. 407 p.
A narrative history of the Women’s Zionist Organization of America for general audiences, abridged by Kustanowitz from a 1997 edition by Levin, which in turn was an updated edition of his Balm in Gilead (New York: Schocken, 1973). Based on interviews with participants and published accounts, although specific sources are not generally cited or listed.
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.
Litt, Jacquelyn S. Medicalized Motherhood: Perspectives From the Lives of African-American and Jewish Women. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000. 189 p.
Demonstrates how the process of medicalization of mothering through advice given by pediatricians and other experts “reflected and fueled ethnoracial and social class divisions among women” (p. 13). Based on interviews with 18 Jewish and 20 African American women who raised their children in the 1930s and 1940s. Chapter 1 surveys the history of “scientific motherhood.” Chapter 2 shows how Jewish mothers adapted medicalized motherhood to signify their move up into the American middle class. Chapter 3 looks at working class African Americans, who remained distant from modern medicine. Chapters 4–6 examine the influence of women’s networks on the acceptance of medicalized motherhood. The networks facilitated the adoption of medicalized motherhood by both Jewish and African American middle class women, but did not do so for poor and working class African Americans.
Lonstein, Ann. NCJW, the First 100 Years: A History of the National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Minneapolis Section. Minneapolis: NCJW, Greater Minneapolis Section, 1999. 20 p.
Sixteen-page history of the local section of the National Council of Jewish Women.
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.
———. The American Jewish Woman: A Documentary History. New York: Ktav; Cincinnati: American Jewish Archives, 1981. 1,047 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 confined 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, 1971–81; 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.
Mohl, Raymond A., Matilda Bobbi Graff, and Shirley M. Zoloth. South of the South: Jewish Activists and the Civil Rights Movement in Miami, 1945–1960. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2004. 264 p.
Traces the emergence of civil rights activism in Miami through focusing on two Jewish women activists who moved there from the North: Bobbi Graff in the left-wing Civil Rights Congress (CRC) and Shirley Zoloth in the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which held numerous sit-ins in downtown Miami that forced the desegregation of public accommodations in the city. Their roles are documented through their own writings: “The Historic Continuity of the Civil Rights Movement,” a memoir written in 1971 by Graff covering the years 1946–1954, published for the first time in the book, and CORE reports, minutes, correspondence, and published articles by Zoloth. The originals of the CORE materials are in the CORE Papers at the Wisconsin Historical Society. The two women did not overlap in Miami and never met. Graff worked against the Ku Klux Klan and publicized police brutality against Blacks, including murders by police of some of the Black men charged with raping a white woman in the Groveland case. Red-baited in the McCarthy era, Graff fled Miami for Canada in 1954. Interviewed over 30 years later, Graff said, “Our biggest crime was bringing Blacks and whites together” (p. 47). Zoloth arrived in Miami a few weeks after Graff departed. She was a co-founder of the Miami CORE chapter, and her CORE reports document the Miami lunch counter demonstrations of 1959.
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.
Morris, Bonnie J. Lubavitcher Women in America: Identity and Activism in the Postwar Era. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998. 186 p.
Uses articles in the Lubavitcher women’s journal, De Yiddishe Heim, and other sources to describe the response of Lubavitcher women in post-World War II America to assimilation and feminism within American Jewish life. Shows how the women were willing agents of the Rebbe, skillfully co-opting feminist arguments and marketing the superiority of community and service to others over personal autonomy.
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.
Nadell, Pamela S. Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women’s Ordination, 1889–1985. Boston: Beacon Press, 1998. 300 p.
Recounts the long struggle for women’s ordination as rabbis, from 1889, when Mary M. Cohen argued for it in a short story published in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, through the 1970s and 1980s, by which time the Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative Movements in the United States had all ordained women; and speculates on the possibilities within Orthodoxy today. Shows how several women in the first half of the twentieth century tried in isolation to receive ordination, but were each rebuffed. It was not until the 1960s, when female students in Jewish seminaries supported each other in making their case, buttressed by the sweeping changes in American society that opened many previously locked doors for women, that rabbinical ordination had a real chance to succeed.
———, ed. American Jewish Women’s History: A Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2003. 326 p.
Reprints significant recent articles and book chapters that chart the new research in American Jewish women’s history. (Most of them appear elsewhere on this bibliography and are described there.) Nadell provides a general introduction and introductions to sectional divisions: “Sense of Place” sets out how early Jewish settlers created a home in America; “Worlds of Difference” charts the upheaval and changes wrought by the East European migration; “A Wider World” examines the years between the Worlds Wars and the cultural draw of New York City; and “Fierce Attachments” surveys the transitions, stereotypes, and activism of the postwar era. Contents: “Portraits of a Community: The Image and Experience of Early American Jews,” by Ellen Smith; “The Lessons of the Hebrew Sunday School,” By Dianne Ashton; “A Great Awakening: the Transformation that Shaped Twentieth-Century American Judaism,” by Jonathan D. Sarna; “Gone to Another Meeting: the National Council of Jewish Women, 1893–1993,” by Faith Rogow; “Borrowers or Lenders Be: Jewish Immigrant Women’s Credit Networks,” by Shelly Tenenbaum; “‘We Dug More Rocks’: Women and Work,” by Linda Mack Schloff; “Organizing the Unorganizable: Three Jewish Women and Their Union,” by Alice Kessler-Harris; “Immigrant Women and Consumer Protest: the New York City Kosher Meat Boycott of 1902,” by Paula E. Hyman; “Zion in Our Hearts: Henrietta Szold and the American Jewish Women’s Movement,” by Joyce Antler; “The Jewish Priestess and Ritual: the Sacred Life of American Orthodox Women,” by Jenna Weissman Joselit; “The Women Who Would be Rabbis,” by Pamela S. Nadell; “Budgets, Boycotts, and Babies: Jewish Women in the Great Depression,” by Beth S. Wenger; “Angels ‘Rewolt!’: Jewish Women in Modern Dance in the 1930s,” by Julia L. Foulkes; “The ‘Me’ of Me: Voices of Jewish Girls in Adolescent Diaries of the 1920s and 1950s,” by Joan Jacobs Brumberg; “Rage and Representation: Jewish Gender Stereotypes in American Culture,” by Riv-Ellen Prell; “‘From the Recipe File of Luba Cohen’: A Study of Southern Jewish Foodways and Cultural Identity,” by Marcie Cohen Ferris; “Going South: Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement,” by Debra L. Schultz; and “Jewish Feminism Faces the American Women’s Movement: Convergence and Divergence,” by Paula E. Hyman.
Nadell, Pamela S., and Jonathan D. Sarna, eds. Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England for Brandeis University Press, 2001. 322 p.
Includes essays that demonstrate the deep significance of women to the history of American Judaism. “[F]rom the colonial era to the close of the twentieth century, American women, committed to Judaism and to their own Jewish communities, repeatedly reshaped Judaism and helped to redefine the place of men and women within it” (Introduction, p.12). See descriptions of the individual essays in the Articles section of this bibliography.
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.
Collective biography of four labor leaders: Fanya 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. Reprinted: 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 to 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.
Powell, Lawrence N. Troubled Memory: Anne Levy, the Holocaust, and David Duke’s Louisiana. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000. 593 p.
Most of the book chronicles Anne Skorecki Levy and her family’s experiences during the Holocaust and re-establishment in New Orleans. The last sections include description of how she challenged Neo-Nazi David Duke and his supporters by speaking in public about what had befallen her and her family.
Prell, Riv-Ellen. Fighting to Become Americans: Jews, Gender, and the Anxiety of Assimilation. Boston: Beacon Press, 1999. 319 p.
An anthropological look at gender stereotypes throughout the twentieth century. Describes how the working immigrant Jewish woman image of the early twentieth century gave way in one generation to the epitome of conspicuous consumer. In Prell’s view, that was the ticket for the whole family into middle class American life. Through use of popular culture imagery as well as other sources, Prell demonstrates how Jewish women—especially the Jewish Mother and her Jewish American Princess daughter—became the primary seat of Jewishness in the family and the brunt of prejudices and Jewish self-hatred, while Jewish men went off to successful business and professional careers, largely “untainted” by 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.
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 dispel 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.
Schofield, Ann. To Do & To Be: Portraits of Four Women Activists, 1893–1986. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997. 183 p.
Labor leaders Pauline Newman and Rose Pesotta are two of the four portrayals of activists committed to bettering conditions for working women.
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.
Schultz, Debra L. Going South: Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement. New York: New York University Press, 2001. 229 p.
Based on interviews with 15 Northern, secular Jewish women who were among those who went South between 1960 and 1966 to participate in freedom rides, sit-ins, voter registration drives, and adult literacy campaigns; to teach in Freedom schools; and to help integrate public facilities. Schultz probes their reasons for participating, which included acting on the liberal values instilled by their parents, suffused with Jewish commitment to improving the world; drawing a lesson from the Holocaust, when most people stood by and did nothing to derail it; and a personal need to escape, at least temporarily, the limited choices then available to women. An important contribution to the histories of Jews, women, radicals, and civil rights, and especially to the intersection of these fields.
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 Greenebaum 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.
Stone, Ellen Hallet. A Homeland in the West: Utah Jewish Remember. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2001. 500 p.
Selection of 65 excerpts from archived and current Jewish oral histories and reminiscences of Utah Jews, including several women. Examples include Eva Siegel (“Naches in Nephi”); Claire Steres Bernstein (“Keeping Kosher in Vernal”); Berenice Matz Engelberg (“A Minority Child”); and Esther Rosenblatt Landa (“Busy as a Bird Dog”). Footnoted and edited by Hallet Stone.
Sturman, Gladys, and David Epstein, eds. Jewish Women of the American West: An Anthology of Articles Published in Western States Jewish History. Los Angeles: Western States Jewish History Association, 2003. 232 p.
Corresponds to volume 35, no. 3–4 double issue of the journal. Reprints short articles on individual Jewish women and their organizations and endeavors in the region. Includes articles on Selma Gruenberg Lewis, the namesake of Selma, CA; Ray Frank, the “girl rabbi” of the West; labor organizer Rose Pesotta; San Francisco television cook Edith Green; and others.
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.
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. 160 p.
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 the 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.
Women of Reform Judaism (U.S.). In Pursuit of Justice: Resolutions and Policy Statements. 1 v. New York: Women of Reform Judaism, The Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, 1998. 1 v. (various pagings).
First published in 1988, this work collects the full texts of resolutions and policy statements by Women of Reform Judaism on issues that affected American society and Jewish life in the United States, Israel, and elsewhere since the founding of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods in 1913. The topics that recurred the most dealt with civil rights, Israel, or the United Nations. There was also a steady stream calling for women’s equality within the Reform Movement and in society at large. The resolutions include action components, such as getting the word out to appropriate officials and agencies, setting up study commissions, strengthening community services, etc.
Women of Valor: A Guide to Celebrating Jewish Women’s History. Brookline, MA: Jewish Women’s Archive and Ma’yan: the Jewish Women’s Project, a program of the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side (Manhattan, New York), 1997–2002.
Series of annual packets issued in conjunction with posters of Jewish women designed to increase awareness of individual Jewish women who made a difference. The packets contain biographies, best practices, and other curricular suggestions. Three women were selected each of the six years. They are 1997: Glückel of Hameln, Rose Schneiderman, and Henrietta Szold; 1998: Rebecca Gratz, Lillian D. Wald, and Molly Picon; 1999: Emma Lazarus, Hannah Greenebaum Solomon, and Justine Wise Polier; 2000: Bella Abzug, Barbara Myerhoff, and Bobbie Rosenfeld; 2001: Beatrice Alexander, Gertrude Elion, and Ray Frank; 2002: Emma Goldman, Anna Sokolow, and Gertrude Weil. Exhibits about the women are mounted on the Jewish Women’s Archive website: http://jwa.org.
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.
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.
Abusch-Magader, Ruth. “Eating ‘Out’: Food and the Boundaries of Jewish Community and Home in German and the United States.” Nashim 5 (2002): 53–82.
Looks at ways in which 19th century German Jews in Europe and the U.S. came in contact with “outside food,” Abusch-Magder’s term for food “whose primary place of preparation and/or consumption was not the home,” and foods that “not historically part of the German Jewish cultural tradition” (p. 54). Uses the eating of outside food as an indicator of the makings of the German middle class. The focus of the article is on German Jews in Europe, but there is also attention to German Jews in America, who gradually adopted various American foods—bring them “inside”—while continuing a connection to German cooking. Women, the preparers of meals and arbiters of what was inside and what outside, therefore had a central role in shaping the modern Jewish experience.
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, 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 antisemitism 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.
———. “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, lent 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.
———. “Justine Wise Polier and the Prophetic Tradition.” In Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives. Eds. Pamela S. Nadell, and Jonathan D. Sarna, 268–90. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, for Brandeis University Press, 2001.
Demonstrates how family court judge Polier grounded her thought in the prophetic heritage of “loving the neighbor and the stranger” (p. 272) and “fearless opposition to wrongdoing” (p. 273). The prophetic tradition gave Polier a basis for her uncompromising lifelong advocacy inside and outside her courtroom on behalf of women, children, and the disadvantaged. She urged her fellow Jews to draw on this tradition and fight social injustices.
———. “Zion in Our Hearts: Henrietta Szold and the American Jewish Women’s Movement.” In Daughters of Zion: Henrietta Szold and American Jewish Womanhood. Ed. Barry Kessler, 35–56. Baltimore: Jewish Historical Society of Maryland, 1995. Reprinted in American Jewish Women’s History: A Reader, ed. Pamela S. Nadell, 129–49. New York: New York University Press, 2003.
Discusses the ideals Szold embodies and forged for Hadassah, the American women’s Zionist organization she founded. Her aspirations for the members were to contribute to the Jewish homeland in Palestine, particularly in areas of health and social service, and to find spiritual fulfillment by so doing. She succeeded in creating an American Jewish women’s organization that drew in thousands of members inspired by her model of public service. Focuses also on the circle of female friends, including Szold, Alice Seligman, and Jessie Sampter, who shared a common intellectual vision and sustained each other through hardships of living in the harsh conditions of pre-state Israel, indifference and antagonism of men in the Zionist movement, and loneliness. Antler calls their vision a “prophetic feminist Zionism,” and quotes from a letter Szold sent Sampter in which she hoped that a Zionist state could revise Jewish law, whose development had stagnated in recent centuries.
Ashton, Dianne. “Shifting Veils: Religion, Politics, and Womanhood in the Civil War Writings of American Jewish Women.” In Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives. Eds. Pamela S. Nadell, and Jonathan D. Sarna, 81–106. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, for Brandeis University Press, 2001.
During the Civil War, Jewish women strengthened communal and familial bonds by alternatively emphasizing or de-emphasizing religion or politics, as the situation demanded. Ashton likens this phenomenon to shifting veils being lifted and lowered. Southerners Emma Mordecai and Phoebe Yates Levy Pember emphasized politics. They displayed their Jewishness only when they could present it in a manner that supported their Southern sympathies. On the other hand, Rebecca Gratz of Philadelphia avoided expressing her Unionist views when corresponding with relatives in the South and modulated their expression when writing to her sister-in-law in border-state Kentucky. Instead, she stressed shared religious bonds.
———. “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.
Baader, Maria T. “From ‘The Priestess of the Home’ to ‘The Rabbi’s Brilliant Daughter’: Concepts of Jewish Womanhood and Progressive Germanness in Die Deborah and The American Israelite, 1852–1900.” Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook 43 (1998): 47–72.
Contends that Jewish immigrants from Germany and Central Europe defined “German” not as an ethnicity, but rather as related to culture, class, and the bourgeois respectability connoted in the German concept bildung. These values were emphasized in Die Deborah and The American Israelite, often with articles directed at women who were thought to hold more religious feeling, morality, and bildung. The publications also used this viewpoint to encourage women to support Reform Judaism and progressive society.
Batker, Carol J. “Literary Reformers: Crossing Class and Ethnic Boundaries in Jewish Women’s Fiction of the 1920s.” Melus 25, no. 1 (2000): 81–104. Notes: Also published as “‘Mingling With Her People in Their Ghetto’: Immigrant Aid and the New Woman in Jewish Women’s Fiction,” chapter 6 (pp. 108–30) of her Reforming Fictions: Native, African, & Jewish American Women’s Literature and Journalism in the Progressive Era (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000).
Argues that reading immigrant author Anzia Yezierska together with middle-class, acculturated, German Jewish writers Fannie Hurst and Edna Ferber, and in relation to the theme of immigrant aid, allows for a more complex understanding of the assimilation process.
———. “‘Why Should You Ask for Ease?’ Jewish Women’s Journalism in the English-Language Press.” In Reforming Fictions: Native, African, & Jewish American Women’s Literature and Journalism in the Progressive Era, 89–107. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.
Analyzes the views expressed by Jewish American reformers in the 1920s in The Immigrant and The Jewish Woman, two journals of the National Council of Jewish Women. Compares and contrasts the views with that of Native American and African American women journalists. The Jewish writers were acculturated Americans who favored integration of immigrants into American society and increased opportunities for Jews in the U.S. They saw themselves as representative of the “Modern” or “New Woman,” who worked outside her home and followed current trends, such as bobbing her hair; at the same time, they tried to affirm Jewishness as compatible with Americanization.
Bauman, Mark. “Southern Jewish Women and Their Social Service Organizations.” Journal of American Ethnic History 22, no. 3 (2003): 34–78.
Argues that for Jewish women’s causes and organizations in the 19th and 20th centuries, a broadly-defined “Jewishkeit” (“mixture of Jewish tradition, customs, values, and historic experience”) outweighed regional differences. Jewish women were not involved in women’s temperance or abolitionist (or, obviously, missionary) organizations because of their Christian overlay. There were some differences, however, between developments in large urban areas and small communities typical in the South. Southern Jewish women raised money for synagogues and other institutions, assisted new immigrants, and in general kept their Jewish communities and Judaism going, while Jewish men focused on business and civic roles. Jewish women immigrants to the Southern U.S. from Eastern Europe followed a similar pattern in their organizational efforts to that of their Central European co-religionist sisters who had come before them. Bauman takes issue with those who suggest that Southern Jews refrained from controversial issues in order to be accepted, finding numerous instances where Jewish women in the South were active in women’s suffrage, civil rights for Blacks, labor, and other issues.
Bender, Daniel E . “Inspecting Workers: Medical Examination, Labor Organizing, and the Evidence of Sexual Difference.” Radical History Review 80 (2001): 51–75.
In 1914, doctors from the U.S. Public Health Service, assisted by the New York Joint Board of Sanitary Control and the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), conducted a systematic health survey of 2,000 male and 1,000 female garment workers, of whom 90% were Jewish. What they observed, and what was perpetuated as a basis for health policies of the ILGWU and also the Socialist Jewish workers’ mutual aid organization, Arbeiter Ring (Workmen’s Circle), was based on a gendered preconception of health needs of male and female workers. They found the biggest threat to male workers was tuberculosis, which could undermine their role as breadwinners, while the female ailments were gynecological, threatening their role outside the workplace as wives and mothers (mostly later, after their work careers ended when they got married). Union sick funds stressed ways to get ailing male workers back to work in the factories. When women controlled a union local (as in ILGWU Local #25), their leaders took an expansive view of health needs, including those of women no longer in the workplace. However, by focusing on curing women’s ills so they could function in their domestic roles, the female leaders also contributed to perpetuating the supposedly proven gendered differences in health.
———. “‘Too Much of Distasteful Masculinity’” Historicizing Sexual Harassment in The Garment Sweatshop and Factory.” Journal of Women’s History 15, no. 4 (2004): 91–116.
A thread of sexual harassment knits the history of garment sweatshops together, from the 1880s when it helped to maintain a division of labor between men’s work and women’s work, through the rise of garment unions, in which a sexual division of labor was also maintained and only the harassment by bosses was fought.
Ben-Ur, Aviva. “The Exceptional and the Mundane: A Biographical Portrait of Rebecca Machado Phillips (1746–1831).” In Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives. Eds. Pamela S. Nadell, and Jonathan D. Sarna, 46–80. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, for Brandeis University Press, 2001.
Reconstructs the public and private life of a colonial New York Jewish woman of Portuguese descent married to an Ashkenazi man. Her life included the mundane duties of wife and mother, but also the exceptional: she was a pioneering communal activist and philanthropist in the Jewish and non-Jewish world while bearing twenty-one children and raising two grandchildren.
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, 101–21. 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, 173–91. 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 bourgeois 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.
Blanton, Sherry. “Lives of Quiet Affirmation: The Jewish Women of Early Anniston, Alabama.” Southern Jewish History 2 (1999): 25–53.
Describes the role of Henrietta Smith Sterne and other German Jewish women residents of Anniston, AL, in creating Jewish institutions in their tiny community. Like Jewish women elsewhere, they formed a Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society and raised funds for purchasing property for a synagogue, constructing the building, and supplying the furnishings. They deeded it to the congregation in 1907. They also provided assistance to the needy, both Jewish and non-Jewish.
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 and 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, 143–62. 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.
Borish, Linda J. “‘Athletic Activities of Various Kinds’: Physical Health and Sports Programs for Jewish American Women.” Journal of Sport History 26, no. 2 (1999): 240–70.
Discusses the role of Young Women’s Hebrew Associations and other organizations in promoting sports for Jewish American women. Points out the limited access for women to gymnasiums and pools in YWHAs affiliated with YMHAs, and recounts the successful struggle for equal facilities for women and men in the Chicago Hebrew Institute. Describes the leadership of Olympic swimmer Charlotte Epstein in the Women’s Swimming Association of New York City and as team manager of the Olympic women’s swim teams in 1920, 1924, and 1932.
———. “‘An Interest in Physical Well-Being Among the Feminine Membership’: Sporting Activities for Women at Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Associations.” American Jewish History 87, no. 1 (1999): 61–83.
Discusses developments in physical culture and sport at Jewish settlement houses in the Progressive era and in YWHAs, YMHAs, and Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in the 1920s and 1930s in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and smaller Jewish communities, from Elmira and Gloversville, NY, and Hartford, CT, to St. Louis and San Francisco.
———. “Jewish American Women, Jewish Organizations, and Sports, 1880–1940.” In Sports and the American Jew. Ed. Steven A. Riess, 105–31. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1998.
Explores the role of several institutions and individuals in shaping Jewish American women’s sports. Discusses how upper- and middle-class German Jews promoted sports among European working class immigrant women in settlement houses and elsewhere as a means of Americanization and assimilation. Female social reformers also looked on sports as a way to inculcate middle-class values and to bolster women’s health for the rigors of urban conditions. The article also discusses Jewish camping experiences.
Bower, Anne L. “Our Sisters’ Recipes: Exploring ‘Community’ in a Community Cookbook.” Journal of Popular Culture 31, no. 3 (1997): 137–51.
Scrutinizes a 1909 Jewish community cookbook, compiled and illustrated by the author’s great-grandmother. From the recipes present and absent, she gleans that the contributors were middle class German Jewish Americans, who wanted to project an image of assimilated comfort. German recipes predominate, with a sampling of other cuisines and many non-kosher items. No East European Jewish dishes or any Jewish holiday fare are present.
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.
———. “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.
———. “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.
Brumberg, Joan Jacobs. “The ‘Me’ of Me: Voices of Jewish Girls in Adolescent Diaries of the 1920s and 1950s.” In Talking Back: Images of Jewish Women in American Popular Culture. Ed. Joyce Antler, 53–67, 258–61. Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press, 1998. Reprinted in American Jewish Women’s History: A Reader, ed. Pamela S. Nadell, 223–226. New York: New York University Press, 2003.
In the 1950s many Jewish girls kept diaries, which were similar to those of other middle class girls. Main concerns were appearance, popularity, and dating. Jewish references were few; mention of attending services, seders, etc. mainly served the purpose of providing settings. By contrast, the diary of Helen Landis (Labrovitz), the only one from a Jewish girl of the 1920s that Brumberg was able to find, reveals a pre-occupation with being Jewish and especially the pain she felt at being different from the Christians around her. When Landis and her generationi became mothers, Brumberg speculates that they probably “aided and abetted their daughters’ immersion in teenage culture because it seemed so ‘normal’ and they feld so fortunate” (p. 67).
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.
Christein, Heidi S. “A Year in the Life: The Home Relief Society in 1964.” Michigan Jewish History 40 (2000): 48–53.
Reviews one year’s activities of a Jewish women’s organization that assisted needy Jews in Detroit.
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 Francisco 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.
Diner, Hasia R. “Jewish Women, Jewish Men, and the Creating of Gendered Space in America.” Michael: On the History of the Jews in the Diaspora 15 (2000): 9–28.
Goes beyond recent historiographic interests in either Jewish women or Jewish men to explore how immigrant Jewish women and men engaged in much the same work, leisure, and educational endeavors. Contrasts with the Irish and Italians, whose activities were more sex-segregated.
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
Epstein, Lawrence Jeffrey. “Kosher at Last: Jewish Women Comedians.” In Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, 253–69, 326. New York: Public Affairs, 2001.
Begins the chapter by discussing the self-deprecating humor of Totie Fields and Joan Rivers, but also how Rivers subverted the usual rules and showed that an assertive Jewish woman could succeed in comedy. Also discusses the social satire of Elayne Boosler; the sharp observations of Rita Rudner; Sarah Bernhard’s transformation of the “Jewish American Princess” stereotype into a dangerous warrior; Gilda Radner’s characters, including “Rhonda Weiss,” a Jewish American Princess; and the working class personas of Roseanne and Fran Drescher. Concludes with a question as to whether American audiences can accept non-stereotypic Jewish women characters.
Erdman, Harley. “Taming the Exotic Jewess: The Rise and Fall of the ‘Belle Juive’.” In Staging the Jew: The Performance of an American Ethnicity, 1860–1920, 40–60. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1997.
Jewish women were often depicted on the nineteenth and early twentieth century stage. The “belle juive” was one recurring figure. This Jewess represented the exotic, passionate, untamable, and unattainable object of Gentile desire. The character that most exemplified the belle juive was the protagonist in Leah the Forsook (1863), by August Daly. It was often staged in Victorian America, starring well-known actresses of the day, including Sarah Bernhardt during an 1891–92 American tour. Biblical women became popular in turn-of-the-century plays, but absent specifically Jewish connections. By early twentieth century, the Jewess image was softened in the theater and in D.W. Griffith films into an attainable figure who could convert and marry her Gentile lover. The only other portrayal of Jewish women at that time was the polar opposite of the belle juive, namely the domineering, masculinized hag.
Ferris, Marcie Cohen. “‘From the Recipe of Luba Cohen’: A Study of Southern Jewish Foodways and Cultural Identity.” Southern Jewish History 2 (1999): 129–66. Reprinted in American Jewish Women’s History: A Reader, ed. Pamela S. Nadell, 256–80. New York: New York University Press, 2003.
Makes the case that cultural identity is shaped through food and that women’s history survives through recipes and cookbooks. Uses several examples to explore Southern Jewish identity, acculturation, connections among small communities, and interaction with African Americans, from mid-19th through early 20th centuries. Notes the difficulty of keeping kosher in a region where pork predominates, but also the affinity between Jewish and Southern hospitality and common emphasis on big meals. Jewish delicatessens in larger communities were stopping off points on trips to the city and shipped food to Jewish families throughout the region. Jewish camps, summer resorts, and visits from Northern relatives were other sources of Jewish food. Southern Jewish women cooked separate Jewish and Southern dishes but also adapted recipes, blending the two sources. African American cooks were common in Southern Jewish homes, mutually influencing each other. A 1998 survey of Southern Jews (111 women and 6 men) confirmed that “preparing, eating and remembering traditional Jewish foods remains one of the most compelling ways that women create Jewish homes and maintain Jewish family identity within the American South” (p. 156).
Fishman, Sylvia Barack. “American Jewish Feminisms and Their Implications for Jewish Life.” In Jews in America: A Contemporary Reader. Eds. Roberta Rosenberg Farber, and Chaim I. Waxman, 163–90. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, for Brandeis University Press, 1999.
In keeping with the theme of the anthology, this article is chiefly contemporary, yet appropriate nonetheless for a bibliography on history because it presents an excellent overview of historical developments leading up to the current status of numerous women-related issues in Jewish life. Included are discussions of separateness and equality in public religious settings, bat mitzvah ceremonies, Jewish education for women, Jewish women’s scholarship, birth and naming ceremonies for Jewish girls, new rituals associated with weddings, divorce/get/agunot activism, new and old uses for the mikveh (ritual bath), and Orthodox women saying the mourner’s kaddish.
Foner, Nancy. “Immigrant Women and Work in New York City, Then and Now.” Journal of American Ethnic History 18, no. 3 (1999): 95–113.
Contrasts the experiences of East European Jewish and Italian women immigrants who arrived between 1880 and 1920 with that of Asians, Caribbeans, and Latin Americans who have flocked to America since the 1960s. Jewish women mostly immigrated after their menfolk or came with their families. They had little control over their work life and had few opportunities for education. They were expected to work for wages outside their homes only until they got married; thereafter they might earn money only by taking in boarders or doing piecework at home, or “helping” their husbands in their store, often located below their dwelling. When old enough, their unmarried daughters worked in factories and became the main female breadwinners in the family. The pattern among recent immigrants is different. More women than men immigrate, and they often come on their own. They continue working outside their homes after marriage, sometimes in professional occupations, yet they shoulder most of the household and childrearing tasks (although receiving more help from men than is customary in their homelands). Foner concludes that improvement in the status of women and expansion of opportunities has not removed all the barriers and difficulties for current-day immigrant women.
Foster, Geraldine, and Eleanor Horvitz. “Jewish Teachers in Providence, 1898–1940, Part I.” Rhode Island Jewish Historical Notes 13, no. 4 (2002): 532–47.
Based on interviews with some of the small number of Jewish women of the time period who attended college and became teachers, defying conventions that ended the education of Jewish girls before that of their brothers. Common elements that emerge from the interviews: Most got their degrees locally at the Rhode Island College of Education. Most got their start in teaching by teaching elementary classes in evening school, where their charges were children who worked all day. Retirement was mandatory at marriage until past World War II, so many careers were short, but recalled fondly. A second part will look at the experiences of high school teachers.
Foulkes, Julia L. “Angels ‘Rewolt!’: Jewish Women in Modern Dance in the 1930s.” American Jewish History 88, no. 2 (2000): 233–52.
Asserts that Jewish women in the 1930s shaped the foundation of modern dance, though they were not its leaders. They were choreographers, critics, company members, students, teachers, and behind-the-scene organizers; they expressed ideals of social justice and fought antisemitism in the dance movement. Foulkes also connects their participation to the ideas of Mordecai Kaplan, who viewed modern dance as one of the secular activities that could be imbued with a Jewish dimension.
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.
Freedman, Samuel G. “Judaism and Gender: Revolution Toward Tradition.” In Jew Vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry, 115–61. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000.
Freedman analyzes the effect of feminism, finding it unique among the controversies within American Judaism covered in his book because it demanded an opportunity for deeper religious observance rather than away from it. The case he chronicles in detail, “Los Angeles, California, 1987–1989,” is a debate that ensues in the Westside Los Angeles Library Minyan in Congregation Beth Am, after Rachel Adler inserted the imahot (foremothers) when leading the Sabbath morning liturgy. While the Minyan resolved the debate in 1989 by allowing the imahot on a voluntary basis, Freedman concludes his chapter by returning to Adler in 1999, who sadly reported that two-thirds of the Minyan were choosing not to include the imahot. In Adler’s words, that constitutes an erasure of women’s names.
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 wreaked 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, Jean E. “The Politics of Pedagogy and Judaism in the Early Republican South: The Case of Rachel and Eliza Mordecai.” In Women of the American South: A Multicultural Reader. Ed. Christie Anne Farnham, 56–73. New York: New York University Press, 1997.
Based on the diary of Rachel Mordecai Lazarus, an Orthodox German Jewish woman living in the nineteenth century South, the essay describes the pedagogical method Rachel used to teach her stepsister, Eliza. Rachel transformed the Enlightenment value “goodness” into “holiness,” thereby employing a concept more compatible with Judaism.
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.
———. “`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.
Fritz, Angela. “Lizzie Black Kander and Culinary Reform in Milwaukee, 1880–1920.” Wisconsin Magainze of History 87, no. 3 (2004): 36–49.
Kander is best known as the creative force behind The Settlement Cookbook, first issued in 1901. This article explores aspects of her biography and strongly held views that led her to become a reformer and mentions some of her other activities. Kander favored urban reform activity over campaigning for suffrage, which she thought distracted women from social change work. She was convinced that the Eastern European Jewish immigrants to Milwaukee needed to be brought into American mores, for their own good and so that they wouldn’t lead to a drop in status for the already acculturated German Jews. She used cooking classes to achieve that goal, where she emphasized “scientific” cooking and the aesthetics of food presentation and downplayed the religious importance of dietary laws (though her classes were kosher). She initially raised money for the Settlement House from business friends of her husband’s, but came up with the cookbook idea for sustaining support. Kander’s other projects included service on the Milwaukee School Board, where she successfully championed the establishment of a Girls’ Trade School, and the Kitchen of Nations exhibit at the Milwaukee Food, Household, and Electrical Show in 1920.
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.
Geffen, David. “Rosa Sonneschein, Publisher From St. Louis, Attended First Zionist Congress, in Basle, Switzerland.” Western States Jewish History 30, no. 3 (1998): 248–53.
Notes: Reprinted from the St. Louis Jewish Light, June 29, 1983.
Sonneschein covered the first World Zionist Congress held in 1897 at Basle and promoted Zionism to the readers of her monthly, The American Jewess. She pointed out that, to her regret, the gathering began by denying women delegates a vote.
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.
———. “Finding Women in the Story of American and Omaha Reform Judaism.” In Women and Judaism. Eds. Leonard J. Greenspoon, Ronald A. Simkins, and Jean Alexrad Cahan, 295–302. Omaha, NE: Creighton University Press, 2003.
Claims that we can not understand the survival of Judaism in America without recognizing the central role of women in “preserving, transmitting, and redefining our ancient religion as we have moved through a new land” (p. 297). Mentions changes in synagogue seating in Reform temples, the increase in women’s attendance at services, the development of sisterhoods and other Jewish women’s organizations, the opening of temple boards to women, and eventually, the rabbinate, bringing with it further changes in liturgy, notions about God, and more. Highlights Omaha examples of these changes.
———. “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).
———. “The Public Religious Lives of Cincinnati’s Jewish Women.” In Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives. Eds. Pamela S. Nadell, and Jonathan D. Sarna, 107–27. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, for Brandeis University Press, 2001.
Synagogues were the setting for redefinition of American Jewish female identity in nineteenth century Cincinnati. By the second half of the century, women came to dominate attendance at traditional weekly services. Nevertheless, not until the 1890s did all adult women come to be counted as members of the congregations (widows did much earlier), and only were admitted to synagogue boards of trustees in the twentieth century. Aside from attendance at services, Jewish activities and observances declined among the women in the decades after Reform Judaism appeared on the scene. This changed when Eastern European Jews began arriving in huge numbers, providing the Reform Jewish women of Cincinnati and elsewhere with an opportunity for meaningful benevolent activities. From 1913 onward, sisterhoods provided another vehicle for communal involvement.
Goldstein, Eric L. “Between Race and Religion: Jewish Women and Self-Definition in Late-Nineteenth-Century America.” In Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives. Eds. Pamela S. Nadell, and Jonathan D. Sarna, 182–200. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, for Brandeis University Press, 2001.
In late nineteenth century America, Jews self-described themselves as a race, a term that to them meant shared ancestry and religious culture. However, this put a special burden on Jewish women, who were cast as “saviors” of the Jewish race through their attention to Jewish home—in effect freeing men to assimilate as much as they wanted to. In Goldstein’s words, “[b]y tying their racial definition of Jewishness to an essentialized, restrictive definition of Jewish womanhood, Jewish men tried to relieve their own anxiety about interaction with the non-Jewish world” (p.183). When Jewish women began having more contact with the larger society, they favored a religious self-definition, along the lines used by American society in general, though at the same time they did not entirely give up the racial definition, either.
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 aguna, 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 hamazon (grace after meals), reciting lines under the huppa (marriage canopy), and more.
Greenberg, Mark I. “Savannah’s Jewish Women and the Shaping of Ethnic and Gender Identity, 1830–1900.” Georgia Historical Quarterly 82, no. 4 (1998): 751–74.
Although the combined influences of Southern and Jewish culture restricted the range of activities available to nineteenth century Savannah Jewish women, they contributed to family income through taking in boarders, provided the leadership and teachers for local Jewish Sunday schools, and were the force behind retaining Jewish practices in their homes. In the closing decade of the century, they established a chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women. Eugenia Levy Phillips, Phoebe Yates Pember, and many other Savannah Jewish women were ardent supporters of the Confederacy, at times defying Southern custom and patriarchal views of women to do so.
Guberman, Jayne K. “Weaving Women’s Words: Gendered Oral Histories for the Study of American Jewish Women.” In Women and Judaism. Eds. Leonard J. Greenspoon, Ronald A. Simpkins, and Jean Alexrad Cahan, 67–77. Omaha, NE: Creighton University Press, 2003.
Describes the process, themes, and interpretations of Weaving Women’s Words, the first stage of an oral history project undertaken by the Jewish Women’s Archive aimed at chronicling the experience of American Jewish women born in the first quarter of the twentieth century. The focus of the interviews was on the actual lives, experiences, and reflections of women, instead of on their involvements or the activities of their spouses, characteristic of many prior oral histories. The project also sought to capture the lives of “everyday” women, rather than concentrating on leaders. Three interrelated themes were explored by the project: the impact of gender on personal choices and outcomes, the experience of being Jewish, and the importance of place and region in shaping identity and experience. Guberman discusses the problems of interpreting oral histories; in particular, what’s left unsaid.
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 mehitza (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 halakha (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.
Herman, Felicia. “From Priestess to Hostess: Sisterhoods of Personal Service in New York City, 1887–1936.” In Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives. Eds. Pamela S. Nadell, and Jonathan D. Sarna, 148–81. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, for Brandeis University Press, 2001.
Uses the history of Sisterhoods of Personal Service as a case study of American Jewish adaptation to American culture. At first, inspired by Protestant trends in social welfare and view of women as the more religious of the sexes, these Sisterhoods were seen as ways for women to express their religiosity through communal charity work. The Sisterhoods followed the principles of “scientific charity”: large centralized organizations were preferred over smaller independent agencies and efforts went into prevention rather than the reactive side of social welfare. But in the 1920s, the Sisterhoods of Personal Service model declined in favor of organizations (also called sisterhoods) that tended synagogues but no longer addressed social ills. Herman attributes the shift in purpose to five factors: a negation of the Victorian view of women as more religious and charitable, the end of mass Jewish immigration, heightened awareness of a need to combat total assimilation, the growth of paid, professional, social workers employed by Jewish federations, and a reassertion of masculine force within American Judaism.
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.
———. “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 E. “The Jewish Body Politic: Gendered Politics in the Early Twentieth Century.” Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues , no. 2 (1999): 37–51.
Describes two types of political activity in which Jewish women engaged early in the twentieth century that, though based on an assumption of female difference, led women to assert their legitimacy as political actors. The two activities were 1) the international fight against so-called white slavery and 2) activism around food and housing issues. The former was waged by middle class Jewish women in the United States and Western and Central Europe, the latter by urban East European immigrant women in the United States.
———. “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.
———. “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 crystallized. 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.
———. “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.
———. “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.
———. “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.
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.
———. “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 mitzva 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 mitzva in 1955 with the impetus coming from the Education Committee of the Hebrew School desirous of keeping girls in the School.
Jick, Leon. “The Americanization of the Synagogue: A Reexamination.” American Jewish History 90, no. 2 (2002): 63–68.
The entire issue of the journal was devoted to a reexamination by a new generation of scholars of Jick’s classic 1976 book The Americanization of the Synagogue, 1820–1870. In his response, Jick admits that he devoted too little attention to the role of women but is heartened that subsequent scholars have “searched more diligently for the contributions of women…” (p. 64). Essays in the issue that mention the role of women are “The Americanization of the Synagogue, 1820–1870: An Historiographical Appreciation,” by Pamela S. Nadell, introducing the thematic issue; and “From the Ladder to the Umbrella: The Metaphors of American Religious Life,” by Shuly Rubin Schwartz, who calls attention in particular to the role of rebbetzins (rabbis’ wives).
Joselit, Jenna Weissman. “The Jewish Priestess and Ritual: The Sacred Life of American Orthodox Women.” In New York’s Jewish Jews: the Orthodox Community in the Interwar Years, 97–122, 171–77. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990. Reprinted in American Jewish Women’s History: A Reader, ed. Pamela S. Nadell, 153–74. New York: New York University Press, 2003.
In the years between World War I and World War II, the Orthodox community followed suit after the Reform and Conservative branches of American Judaism in strengthening the relationship of Orthodox women to the synagogue, attending to their spiritual needs, and advancing their Jewish knowledge and practices. In the process the Orthodox synagogue changed. Remote women’s galleries were replaced by large sections on the main floor, divided from the men’s section by a mechitzah (divider), but giving women full view of the pulpit. The service itself became more participatory and decorous. The synagogue became a center of community life, further increasing the comfort level of women congregants. Sisterhoods were established in individual synagogues, and in 1923 the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America founded a Women’s Branch, which provided chapters with study and administrative materials. The Jewish education of women had been minimal, and Women’s Branch was especially concerned with creating “learned women” through sending girls to day schools, encouraging them to become Hebrew teachers and providing the training, and offering adult education to the older generation. Women’s Branch also promoted kashrut (observance of Jewish dietary laws) by focusing less on legalistic arguments than on aesthetics and the compatibility of kashrut with modern American life. Women’s Branch members vigorously sought a wider selection of kosher packaged products by visiting producers, paying for laboratory analyses, and promoting the value of obtaining the ritual supervision that would yield the OU seal on goods. Orthodox women were also involved in religious Zionism through the Mizrachi Women’s Organization, taking a particular interest in the education of girls in Palestine in the domestic sphere.
———. “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.
———. “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 sukka 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. “San Diego Pioneering Ladies and Their Contributions to the Community, 1881–1905.” Western States Jewish History 31, no. 1 (1998): 21–32.
Describes the organizations of Jewish women in San Diego in the late nineteenth century.
———. “Mothers and Daughters of Old San Diego.” Western States Jewish History 19, no. 3 (April 1987): 264–270.
Principally about Hannah Solomons Jacobs, the first Jewish woman to settle in San Diego (1851), her daughters, and Hannah Mannasse and her daughter Celita.
Katzburg-Yungman, Mira. “The Impact of Gender on the Leading American Zionist Organizations.” In Gender, Place and Memory in the Modern Jewish Experience: Replacing Ourselves. Eds. Judith Tydor Baumel, and Tova Cohen, 165–86. Portland, OR: Vallentine Mitchell, 2003.
After the state of Israel came into being in 1948, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) declined in membership and influence, while Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, flourished and grew. Uses the concept of gender to explain the differences. Pre-statehood, the ZOA and its members, who were mostly active businessmen, had concentrated on political/diplomatic efforts and fundraising, as their time permitted; but after statehood, the Israeli government took over the former, and various other organizations got involved in fundraising for absorption of immigrants, where was a major need in the new state. By contrast, Hadassah members were primarily non-employed women who had the time to devote to Hadassah activities. From its founding, Hadassah had developed in life with women’s traditional concerns and method—a practical approach to health, welfare, and education—all of which tied Hadassah to the day-to-day life of Israel. These needs swelled in the new country, which maintained a strong purpose for Hadassah and its members during the early years of statehood. Also makes the point that Hadassah accepted the view of gender difference inherent in American society at the time.
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, and in East European Jews in America, 1880–1920: Immigration and Adaptation, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock, v. 3: 943–961. New York: Routledge, 1998.
The three indefatigable organizers of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union studied are Pauline Newman, Fanya 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).
Klapper, Melissa. “Jewish Women and Vocational Education in New York City, 1885–1925.” American Jewish Archives Journal 53, no. 1–2 (2001): 114–46.
The Hebrew Technical School for Girls (founded 1885) and the Clara de Hirsch Home (founded 1897) were the two most prominent privately funded vocational schools ofr Jewish women in New York. The article points out the tension between the older, middle class Jewish community and working class new immigrants. The schools were started by philanthropists in the established Jewish community intent on Americanizing and inculcating middle class values into working class immigrant girls. The schools were started by philanthropists in the established Jewish community intent on Americanization and inculcating middle class values into working class immigrant girls. The schools reconciled the middle class ideology of female domesticity and the necessity for poor immigrant women to enter the labor force by preparing their students for domestic work. The schools taught sewing, millinery, dressmaking, needlework, and cooking. Later the Hebrew Technical School, although not the Clara de Hirsch Home, offered a commercial track and some academic courses, which the students preferred (to the consternation of community members who thought that domestic skills were the most important). The boards of the schools also considered paid labor to be temporary, between the end of formal education and marriage, a situation that was unrealistic for the working class student body. The schools declined as the concept of acceptable work for women expanded beyond the domestic and as public schools began offering vocational courses.
———. “‘A Long and Broad Education’: Jewish Girls and the Problem of Education in America, 1860–1920.” Journal of American Ethnic History 22, no. 1 (2002): 3–31.
Asserts that because high schools are basically conservative institutions, they posed no threat to Jewish families and communities during the time period discussed, and therefore Jewish parents were often willing to allow their daughters to attend. Colleges, on the other hand, were more problematic. Even attendance at high school was not assured in families that needed the income from girls—or chose to use it fro the education of their brothers, which was considered a much higher priority.
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.
Larson, Kate Clifford. “The Saturday Evening Girls: A Progressive Era Library Club and the Intellectual Life of Working Class and Immigrant Girls in Turn-of-the-Century Boston.” Library Quarterly 71, no. 2 (2001): 195–230.
In addition to a general description of the club established in 1899 to stimulate the minds of immigrant Jewish and Italian girls in Boston’s North End, the article quotes from and discusses charter club member Fanny Goldstein in particular. Goldstein edited the club’s newsletter from 1912 to 1917 and went on to have a career as a librarian in the West End branch of the Boston Public Library. She founded Jewish Book Week (later Month) and curated the Judaica collection of the Library.
Lavitt, Pamela Brown. “First of the Red Hot Mamas: ‘Coon Shouting’ and the Jewish Ziegfeld Girl.” American Jewish History 87, no. 4 (1999): 253–90.
Explains the role of turn-of-the-century Jewish women performers as “coon shouters,” singing songs also known then as Negro dialect songs, often performed in black face, but incorporating Jewish physical cues. Fanny Brice and Sophie Tucker were the last and achieved the most fame. Lavitt fills in the period preceding them by reviewing the careers of their Jewish vaudeville foremothers, Ziegfeld girls Anna Held and Nora Bayes. According to Lavitt, they performed “doubly coded racial masquerades” (p.262), where outward signs of Jewishness and blackness were absent but understood by audiences nonetheless.
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.
———. “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.
Lipstadt, Deborah E. “Feminism and American Judaism: Looking Back at the Turn of the Century.” In Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives. Eds. Pamela S. Nadell, and Jonathan D. Sarna, 291–308. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, for Brandeis University Press, 2001.
Reviews the dramatic changes in American Jewish life wrought by feminism, singling out the ordination of women rabbis in the Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative Movements, and Orthodox women’s prayer groups and Talmud study. Mentions countertrends as well, such as the small percentage of female Federation presidents or senior women rabbis of large congregations and, among the Orthodox, the revival of abandoned customs that separate out women.
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.
Malone, Bobbie. “Ruth and Rosalie: Two Tales of Jewish New Orleans.” Southern Jewish History Journal 1 (1998): 121–33.
On two native New Orleans women from different Jewish backgrounds (Ruth Dreyfous, Reform, and Rosalie Cohen, Orthodox) who lived full, public-oriented lives that spanned most of the twentieth century.
Mayer, Susan. “Amelia Greenwald and Regina Kaplan: Jewish Nursing Pioneers.” Southern Jewish History Journal 1 (1998): 83–108.
On two American leaders in nursing active during the first half of the twentieth century. Both graduated from nursing programs in 1908. In addition to several positions in the U.S., Greenwald founded and ran a training school for Jewish nurses in Warsaw in the 1920s and directed the nurses’ training school at Hadassah Hospital in Palestine in the early 1930s. Kaplan was nursing superintendent and an administrator at the Leo N. Levi Hospital in Hot Springs, AR, for 35 years, where she also was involved in nurse training.
McCune, Mary. “Creating a Place for Women in a Socialist Brotherhood: Class and Gender Politics in the Workmen’s Circle, 1892–1930.” Feminist Studies 28, no. 3 (2002): 585–610.
The Workmen’s Circle (Arbeiter Ring) is a Socialist mutual aid organization founded in 1892. While in theory committed to equality, few women attended meetings or achieved leadership positions within the organization in the time period studied, due to a series of factors. Males were ambivalent about the participation of women, domestic chores made demands on women’s time and energies, and the lower dues structure instituted for women took away voting privileges, increasing female estrangement from the organization. However, women formed their own affiliates, where they concentrated on education and social welfare concerns, which, over time, influenced the overall agenda of the organization, transforming it into one with wider social and cultural purposes. From 1915 the Circle’s paper, Der Fraynd (The Friend) had a column “Iber der froyen velt” (About the Women’s World), written by Adele Kean Zametkin, who urged women to participate in the paid labor force and promoted suffrage, though not at the expense of class consciousness. In the 1920s Rose Asch-Simpson successfully spearheaded the formation of a Social Service Department, which rendered critical assistance to members during the Great Depression. McCune makes useful comparison of the experience of women in the Workmen’s Circle to that of women in other Socialist organizations.
———. “Social Workers in the Muskeljudentum: ‘Hadassah Ladies,’ ‘Manly Men,’ and the Significance of Gender in the American Zionist Movement, 1912–1928.” American Jewish History 86, no. 2 (1998): 135–65.
Hadassah leaders had a gendered conception of the work of their organization, seeing it as a nurturing, practical Zionism. Louis Lipsky and other male Zionist leaders agreed that the women’s contribution was different, but considered it merely charity work, or at best fundraising, but not Zionist. To them, Zionism meant building a nation, in the course of which the effete, diasporic, Jewish male would be rejuvenated into the new Jewish man, a concept known as muskeljudentum (muscular Jewry). Though undervalued by the male Zionist leadership, Hadassah’s goals of fostering better relations between Arab and Jewish residents of Palestine, championing equal rights for Jewish women there, and educating American Jewish women to Zionism, were important contributions to the development of Palestine and the American Zionist movement.
McGinity, Keren R. “Immigrant Jewish Women Who Married Out.” In Women and Judaism. Eds. Leonard J. Greenspoon, Ronald A. Simkins, and Jean Alexrad Cahan, 263–94. Omaha, NE: Creighton University Press, 2003.
Uses the experiences of European-born American writer-activists Mary Antin Grabau, Rose Pastor Stokes, and Anna Strunsky Walling as examples of women for whom intermarriage was a means of joining the dominant culture. All three marriages failed, but McGinity does not attribute any of the failures to intermarriage, but rather to political differences and financial disagreements. Even after their marriage to non-Jews, the three continued to exemplify a Jewish commitment to social justice.
Miller, Jessica Davidson. “The History of the Agunah in America: A Clash of Religious Law and Social Progress.” Women’s Rights Law Reporter 19, no. 1 (1997): 1–15.
Surveys secular-legal, religious, and organizational attempts to solve the problem of the aguna, a woman who wants to be divorced, but whose husband refuses to transmit a letter of divorce (get), leaving her unable to remarry according to Jewish law. Shows how the situation actually worsened for observant women after the Reform Movement accepted civil divorce and did away with the get in 1869. Their former husbands could now be remarried by Reform rabbis (as could the women, if they chose to abandon tradition). Women who wanted to remain traditional had lost one of the communal sticks that had helped compel men to sign a get. Also describes the “Lieberman clause” added to Conservative ketubot (marriage contracts) in 1954, the 1969 decision of the Conservative Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly to nullify any marriage when a husband does not provide a get within six months of a civil divorce, New York State court cases and “get laws” enacted in 1983 and 1992, and reasons why there are still agunot among Orthodox women today.
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. “Jewish Women On My Mind.” Culturefront (1997): 160–163.
Recounts how Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, co-edited by Moore and Paula E. Hyman (Routledge, 1997) began, and how they chose “who was in and who was out” as well as the topical entries.
———. “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.
Muir, Lisa. “Rose Cohen and Bella Spewack: The Ethnic Child Speaks to You Who Never Were There.” College English 29, no. 1 (2002): 123–42.
Analyzes the autobiographies of two immigrant Jewish women. Both maintained their ethnic ties.
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.
———. “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.
———. “‘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.
———. “Women on the Margins of Jewish Historiography.” In The Margins of Jewish History. Ed. Marc Lee Raphael, 102–12. Williamsburg, VA: Department of Religion, College of William and Mary, 2000.
Seeks to rectify the notion that the historiography of Jewish women did not begin until the 1970s. Discusses the work of three female independent scholars who lived in the United States earlier in the twentieth century and published on Jewish women’s history: Dora Askowith, Trude Weiss-Rosmarin, and Anita Libman Lebeson. All had PhDs, but only Askowith had a career teaching at an academic institution (lecturer level at Hunter College). Weiss-Rosmarin is best known of the three, since she founded and edited The Jewish Spectator for over half a century. Lebeson lectured and published books and articles. All wrote “compensatory” history, retrieving women worthies from oblivion, considered the first stage of writing women’s history. Nadell says it’s now time to restore them and their work to historiographic record.
———. “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.
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.
———, 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., 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.
Nelson, Anna Kasten. Ánna M. Rosenberg, an ‘Honorary Man’.” Journal of Military History 68, no. 1 (2004): 133–61.
Covers the career of an immigrant Jewish woman who rose to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower in the Defense Department, appointed in 1950 to the post by Defense Secretary George C. Marshall.
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.
Paton-Walsh, Margaret. “Women’s Organizations, U.S. Foreign Policy, and the Far Eastern Crisis, 1937–1941”
Pearlstein, Peggy K. “Creating a U.S. Women’s History Guide for the Collections at the Library of Congress: the Jewish Angle.” In Proceedings of the 34th Annual Convention of the Association of the Jewish Libraries, Washington DC, 1999. Eds. Laura S. Wolfson, and Barbara Y. Leff, 231–8. New York: Association of Jewish Libraries, 2000.
Discusses the project of creating the Guide and highlights some of the Library of Congress holdings that have bearing on American Jewish women’s history. For further information, see the article below for Pearlstein, Peggy K. and Barbara A. Tenenbaum, “Area Studies Collections: American Jewish Women.” In American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women’s History and Culture in the United States, ed. Sheridan Harvey, 346–56. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 2001.
Pearlstein, Peggy K., and Barbara A. Tenenbaum. “Area Studies Collections: American Jewish Women.” In American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women’s History and Culture in the United States. Ed. Sheridan Harvey, 346–56. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 2001.
Begins by outlining the history of Jewish women in American, then offers search strategies for finding relevant material within the holdings of the Library of Congress using reference works and the Library’s catalog. Reviews groups of selected sources, including newspapers and periodicals, community publications, and cookbooks in Hebrew, Yiddish, English, and several other languages. Describes in more detail the Yiddish American play manuscripts, films, and sheet music that entered the Library of Congress through the depository function of the Copyright Office, mentioning prominent women playwrights, film start, and lyricists; and the collections of sound recordings. The article is richly illustrated with color reproductions from the genres surveyed. For a discussion of the process of creating the Guide, see Pearlstein, Peggy K. “Creating a U.S. Women’s History Guide for the Collections at the Library of Congress: the Jewish Angle.” In Proceedings of the 34th Annual Convention of the Association of the Jewish Libraries, Washington DC, 1999. Eds. Laura S. Wolfson, and Barbara Y. Leff, 231–8. New York: Association of Jewish Libraries, 2000.
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.
———. “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.
———. “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.
———. “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.
———. “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 because 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.
Reimer, Gail Twersky. “Women on the Wall.” In Women and Judaism. Eds. Leonard J. Greenspoon, Ronald A. Simkins, and Jean Alexrad Cahan, 203–21. Omaha, NE: Creighton University Press, 2003.
Contrasts the nine posters of Jewish women issued by the American Jewish Archives beginning in 1974 under the aegis of Jacob Rader Marcus with the eighteen in the Women of Valor series produced by the Jewish Women’s Archive since the late 1990s in conjunction with Ma’yan: the Jewish Women’s Project of the Jewish Community Center of the Upper West Side, New York City. The earlier set favored early Americans and liberal, social activists and subscribed to the “less is more” credo, mostly containing the women’s visage and a paragraph about her written by Marcus. Influenced by a generation of feminist scholarship in women’s history, the later set features radicals and women in the arts and other fields in addition to politics and social action, includes quotations from the women themselves, and offers a rich collage of information that in Reimer’s view invites the observer to delve into the woman’s history. Includes nine illustrations.
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.
Rojanski, Rachel. “At the Center or on the Fringes of the Public Arena: Esther Mintz-Aberson and the Status of Women in American Poalei Zion (1905–1935).” Journal of Israeli History 21, no.1 (2002): 27–53.
Uses the experiences of Esther Mintz-Aberson, the only woman in a leadership position in Poalei Zion up to the 1930s, to show that the members of the Socialist Zionist organization, which was officially supportive of equality between the genders, had a far more complex attitude. Discusses the formation and development of two affiliated women’s organizations, Farband Women and Pioneer Women. Argues that “…paradoxically, while women’s awareness of their status in society led them to shun the center of public life, it was precisely their organizing on the fringes that paved the way for their eventual integration into the main, male-dominated sphere of public life” (p. 29). Contrasts the experience of Mintz-Aberson, who tried to be active in the male-dominated organization but was only able to achieve important positions when Poalei Zion was at a low ebb or when she moved to Chicago, away from the national organization in New York, with two leaders of Pioneer Women, Sophie Udin and Sarah Rivka Feder Kheifetz. Udin and Feder Kheifetz were more attuned to the pattern in America of women organizing and achieving within separate channels.
Rosen, Robert N. “Two Jewish Confederate Sisters.” In The Jewish Confederates, 280–303, 434–37. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2000.
On Eugenia Levy Phillips and Phoebe Levy Pember, two sisters born in Charleston, South Carolina, who were prominent in support of the Confederacy. Phillips was arrested as a spy in Washington, DC, and later again in New Orleans for mocking Union soldiers. Pember was matron of a division of Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond, VA, at a time when it was quite unusual for a woman to be involved in hospital management. Information on Pember comes from her memoir, A Southern Woman’s Story: Life in Confederate Richmond, ed. By Bell Irvin Wiley (Jackson, TN: McCowat-Mercer Press, 1959, and reprinted Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot, 1991).
Rotter, Arlene G. “Climbing the Crystal Stair: Annie T. Wise’s Success as an Immigrant in Atlanta’s Public School System (1872–1925).” Southern Jewish History 4 (2001): 45–70.
Assesses the 40-year career of Hungarian-born Annie Teitelbaum Wise in the Atlanta Public Schools, including her stint as principal of English Commercial High School from the standpoint of what was possible for a Jewish immigrant woman to achieve.
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.
Sassler, Sharon. “Learning to Be an ‘American Lady’? Ethnic Variation in Daughters’ Pursuits in the Early 1900s.” Gender and Society 14, no. 1 (2000): 184–209.
Uses data from the 1910 Census Public Use Sample in order to test general assimilation theory, which assumes a similar experience for men and women, by probing information on the pursuits of daughters in families of different ethnicities. Concludes that a single model, whether applied to both women and men, or applied uniformly to all ethnic groups, does not reflect the actual data. Compares “Yankee,” Irish, German, Italian, Jewish, and Black experiences. Among the findings concerning Jews: immigrant Jewish girls were significantly less likely than first-generation Italian girls to give up attending school in order to perform domestic chores at home, regardless of family size or household composition. Furthermore, “[t]rade-off between siblings that negatively affect school enrollment is apparently less based on gender and age in Jewish families than in Irish and Black families” (p. 199).
Schultz, Debra L. “Our Unsung Civil Rights Movement Heroines.” Lilith 24, no. 3 (1999): 10–16.
Based on Schultz’ book-in-progress, later published as Going South: Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement (2001). Includes her statement “Why I Tracked Them Down.”
Schwartz, Shuly Rubin. “Ambassadors Without Portfolio? The Religious Leadership of Rebbetzins in Late-Twentieth-Century American Jewish Life.” In Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives. Eds. Pamela S. Nadell, and Jonathan D. Sarna, 235–67. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, for Brandeis University Press, 2001.
Studies the careers of three unconventional rabbis’ wives: Ruth Waxman, Esther Jungreis, and Blu Greenberg. Schwartz’s contention is that all three seemingly adhered to the traditional rebbetzin role, yet each pushed the boundaries of that role in different ways that helped open up Jewish religious leadership to women. Waxman was managing editor of Judaism, Jungreis is the charismatic founder of Hineni International, and Greenberg personifies feminism within Orthodoxy. Their status as rebbetzin allowed them, sometimes as substitutes for their husbands, to teach, speak, write, and grow into prominence in their own right.
———. “`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 S. “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.
———. “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.”
———. “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.
———. “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.
Shargel, Baila Round. “American Jewish Women in Palestine: Bessie Gotsfeld, Henrietta Szold, and the Zionist Enterprise.” American Jewish History 90, no. 2 (2002): 141–60.
Restores Bessie Goldstein Gotsfeld to her rightful place in history alongside Szold as an American woman who was vital in the establishment of institutions in Jewish Palestine. Gotsfeld worked through the Mizrachi Women’s Organization, now known as Amit Women, whereas Szold founded Hadassah. The two women shared many similarities of temperament, talents, and commitments. Both were sensitive to beauty, oldest child in a large family, childless, brilliant, multilingual, and efficient and excellent organizers. Both exhibited highest dedication to Zionism including moving Palestine and were devoted to elevating the Jewish knowledge of members of their organizations in America, confident in the ability of women’s organizations to conduct activities, raise funds, and decide on disbursements independent of men. They were single-mindedly to their organization and religious, but also diverged. Gotsfeld was married, Szold was not. Szold was more literary and scholarly. While both were religious, Gotsfeld was Orthodox and considered the establishment of the Chief Rabbinate an absolute necessity. By contrast, Szold had studied and worked at the Conservative Movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary of America and was a firm supporter of the separation of church and state in America and what she hoped would be a similar pattern in Israel, where she also hoped Jewish law itself would grow and change. Shargel refers to them as partly partner and partly nemesis of each other.
Sheramy, Rona. “‘There Are Times When Silence Is a Sin’: The Women’s Division of the American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Nazi Boycott Movement.” American Jewish History 89, no. 1 (2001): 105–21.
Describes the pivotal role of the Women’s Division of the American Jewish Congress in day-to-day local operation of the 1934–1941 Anti-Nazi Boycott. The Women’s Division’s Vigilance Committee monitored local consumer and business boycott observance, and other members worked on disseminating information about the boycott. When the AJC strategy turned to picketing, Women’s Division founder, Louise Waterman Wise, and other leaders attracted middle-class Jewish women to the picket lines by appealing to them as Americans, as Jews, and as women. They made connections between the traditional nurturing and protective role of Jewish women and the responsibility to fight Nazism, and they stressed Fascism’s special threat to women. Although the boycott itself failed, examining the role of the Women’s Division in the effort is important to a fuller understanding of the mobilization of the American Jewish community during the period.
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.
Smith, Barbara. “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Relationships Between Black and Jewish Women.” In The Truth That Never Hurts: Writings on Race, Gender, and Freedom, 130–153. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000.
Notes: First published in Yours in Struggle : Three Feminist Perspectives on Anti-Semitism and Racism, ed. by Elly Bulkin, Minnie Bruce Pratt, and Barbara Smith (New York : Long Haul Press, 1984).
Seminal article on the complex relationship between Black and Jewish women. According to Smith, as women they share an awareness of oppression, but both have absorbed the prejudices of the other part of their identities—Jews as white, and Blacks as Christian. In part, this essay is a response to statements in Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s “Anti-Semitism in the Women’s Movement” (Ms, June 1982: 46).
Snyder, Holly. “Queens of the Household: The Jewish Women of British America, 1700–1800.” In Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives. Eds. Pamela S. Nadell, and Jonathan D. Sarna, 15–45. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, for Brandeis University Press, 2001.
Uses the scant extant source material on Jewish women in colonial America creatively to describe their experiences and activities. Argues that gender relations among Jews exhibited a pattern distinct from that of Gentiles, with Jewish households being more complementary and interdependent.
Sochen, June. “Both the Dove and the Serpent: Hadassah’s Work in 1920s Palestine.” Judaism 52, no. 1–2 (2003): 71–83.
In the 1920s Hadassah set up what is still today a major part of the medical infrastructure of Israel. Founder Henrietta Szold looked to American pragmatism and social work practices for inspiration, avoiding personal and philosophical squabbles with individuals from other organizations in Jewish Palestine, and serving the needs of all groups, whether Arabs or Jews from the Middle East, North Africa, or European countries. Even after Arab riots, massacre of Jewish students, and burning of the Hadassah Hospital in Hebron in 1929, Szold remained committed to Hadassah treating everyone, and in speeches at conventions in American urged a closer bond between Arabs and Jews. Hadassah’s pragmatic style allowed it to accomplish a great deal.
———. “From Sophie Tucker to Barbra Streisand: Jewish Women Entertainers As Reformers.” In Talking Back: Images of Jewish Women in American Popular Culture. Ed. Joyce Antler, 68–84m 261–62. Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press, 1998.
A study of three generations of Jewish women entertainers of the twentieth century who Sochen says “operated as shrewd and funny observers of the battle between the sexes, the double standard, and sexuality” (p. 69), publicly confronting topics previously available only to men and offering new roles for women. As such they altered perceptions and interpretations of Jewish women. Discussed are Sophie Tucker and Fannie Brice of the first generation, Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler of the third, and Joan Rivers in the middle.
———. “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.
———. “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.
———, 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’s mother remembered
Soyer, Daniel. “The Voices of Jewish Immigrant Mothers in the YIVO American Jewish Autobiography Collection.” Journal of American Ethnic History 17, no. 4 (1998): 87–94.
In 1942, the Yiddish Scientific Institute-YIVO sponsored a contest on “Why I Left Europe and What I Have Accomplished in America,” which received 223 responses, mostly in Yiddish, of which forty-seven were from women. This article looks at sixteen of the autobiographical pieces, by women who arrived in America age twenty-five or over, examining how the women evaluated their reasons for emigration and their subsequent lives. On the whole, the women were enthusiastic about living in a land of peace and security, where they and in particular their children flourished.
Stein, Regina. “The Road to Bat Mitzvah in America.” In Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives. Eds. Pamela S. Nadell, and Jonathan D. Sarna, 223–34. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, for Brandeis University Press, 2001.
Surveys the steps on the road to acceptance of the Bat Mitzvah in Reform and Conservative synagogues such that by 1960 the ceremony was held in almost all congregations. However, in neither movement did women participate in the debate over instituting the Bat Mitzvah. Furthermore, ironically, in Conservative synagogues the event symbolized the one and only day the young woman would read from the Torah, whereas for boys the Bar Mitzvah marked the beginning of participation in the service. Eventually that discrepancy could not be justified.
Stern, Norton B. “Six Pioneer Women of San Francisco.” Western States Jewish History 30, no. 2 (1998): 159–68.
Brief sketches of six nineteenth and early twentieth century women connected to San Francisco: feisty real estate tycoon Anna Marks, family matriarch Susan Levy, educator Mary Goldsmith Prag, clothing entrepreneur Amelia Dannenberg, journalist Carolyn Anspacher, and Corinne S. Koshland, who took fifty-eight relatives and friends into her mansion after the 1906 earthquake.
———. “The Charitable Jewish Ladies of San Bernardino 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.
———. “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.
———. “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.
———. “From Domestic Judaism to Public Ritual: Women and Religious Identity in the American West.” In Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives. Eds. Pamela S. Nadell, and Jonathan D. Sarna, 128–47. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, for Brandeis University Press, 2001.
In the American West of the second half of the nineteenth century, immigrant Jewish women expressed their Jewishness publicly through female benevolent societies and informal education of children, rather than through synagogue participation or household rituals. Their daughters, born in the West, “modernized their identity” by participating with Protestant women in club and settlement work and by founding Sunday schools where holiday pageantry underscored an American Judaism.
———. “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.
———. “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.
———. “The World of Our Fathers and the World of Our Mothers.” American Jewish History 88, no. 4 (2000): 547–56.
Reveals what led up to her writing The World of Our Mothers (1988), a corrective to Irving Howe’s The World of Our Fathers , which, as its name suggests, is primarily a history of what Jewish men were doing, and reviews more recent developments in the historiography of American Jewish women.
Weiner, Deborah. “Jewish Women in the Central Appalachian Coal Fields, 1890–1960: From Breadwinners to Community Builders.” American Jewish Archives Journal 52, no. 1/2 (2000): 10–33.
Jewish women played essential roles in coalfield towns of central Appalachia in sustaining their families and Jewish communities during the period studied. Women of the immigrant generation “helped out” in family businesses or were the actual owners of confectionaries, clothing, and dry goods stores. Thereafter, Jewish women’s activities turned to creating communal institutions, including religious schools, aid societies, synagogues, and sisterhoods. Their role in establishing synagogues was often hidden behind men who officially incorporated the institutions and were the board members. The women’s organizations paralleled those of their middle-class Christian neighbors, but provided members with settings where they could socialize with other Jewish women.
Wenger, Beth S. “Mitzvah and Medicine: Gender, Assimilation, and The Scientific Defense of ‘Family Purity’.” Jewish Social Studies 5, no. 1/2 (1999): 177–202.
Notes: Also in Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives, ed. by Pamela S. Nadell and Jonathan D. Sarna, 201–222.
Between 1920 and 1940, Jewish religious commentators viewed women’s observance of family purity laws as central to the preservation of the Jewish people from assimilation. They were buttressed in their argument by the medical/scientific community of the day, which attributed the lower rate of cervical cancer among Jewish women to abstinence from intercourse during menstruation and immersion in the mikve (ritual bath). This argument declined following World War II.
———. “The Politics of Women’s Ordination: Jewish Law, Institutional Power, and the Debate Over Women in the Rabbinate.” Tradition Renewed: A History of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Ed. Jack Wertheimer, 485–523. Vol. II. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1997.
Delves into social, psychological, and political factors associated with the debate over women’s ordination within the Conservative Movement in the 1970s and early 1980s, including internal dissension that it brought to light between the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTA) and the Rabbinical Assembly (RA), the association of rabbis belonging to the Movement. Describes the workings of the Commission for the Study of the Ordination of Women As Rabbis, mandated in 1977 by resolution of the RA and chaired by JTS Chancellor Gerson Cohen. In 1979, the Commission found in favor of women’s ordination, but the JTS faculty tabled a vote until 1983, when the decision was made to admit women to rabbinical school. Describes events between the 1979 and 1983 votes and the beginnings of feminist reconceptualization of Conservative Judaism signaled by the momentous decision.
———. “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.
———. “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.
Wilhelm, Cornelia. “The Independent Order of True Sisters: Friendship, Fraternity, and a Model of Modernity for Nineteenth-Century American Jewish Womanhood.” American Jewish Archives Journal 54, no. 1 (2002): 37–63.
Discusses the Unabhängiger Order Treuer Schwestern (UOTS), a fraternal lodge founded in 1846 by women of Temple Emanu-El, New York City, as a women’s organization paralleling the B’nai Brith. The UOTS was the only exclusively female, independent, fraternal organization in America at that time, placing Jewish women ahead of Protestant women in establishing this type of organization. Wilhelm sees the underlying purpose of the organization as raising the self-awareness of the members and promoting their personal growth in knowledge and morality in order to prepare them for civic participation. The UOTS also had benevolent functions but was unlike female benevolent societies where membership was automatic upon payment of dues. UTOS applicants had to prove their moral worth and social status to be accepted. To achieve full membership, women had to pass through four degrees, named for Biblical exemplars of the desired qualities: Love of others (Miriam), friendship (Ruth), fidelity (Esther), and piety (Hannah). German remained the language spoken in most of the UOTS lodges through World War I, limiting the number of potential members. After 1896 Jewish women had the option of joining the new National Council of Jewish Women, which was based more on social welfare. In Wilhelm’s view, future research on the organizational behavior of American Jewish women should not neglect Jewish fraternal associations as a training ground for such organizations.
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.”
For 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.” An earlier 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.
Grossman, Beth, artist. “Passages: An Immigrant’s Story.” Web page, [accessed 27 September 2005]. Available at http://www.nmajh.org/exhibitions/passages/index.htm.
Exhibit by artist Beth Grossman consisting of a series of antique doors illustrating her great-grandmother’s journey from Russia to America. Mounted by the National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, PA.
“Jewish Virtual Library: Biographies of Jewish Women.” Web page, [accessed 27 September 2005 ]. Available at http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/biography/biowomen.html.
Biographical sketches of numerous Jewish women from the United States and Israel, compiled from a variety of sources by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise.
“Jewish Women in Southern Arizona.” Web page, 1999 [accessed 27 September 2005]. Available at http://www.u.arizona.edu/ic/mcbride/ws200/jewc.htm.
Site created by students in the women’s studies course “Women and Western Culture,” taught by Kari McBride, University of Arizona, Spring, 1999.
“Jewish Women’s Archive.” Web page, [accessed 27 September 2005]. Available at http://jwa.org.
Contains the Virtual Archive database consists of 500 archival images and the records of over 200 women, whose collections are held in repositories in the United States and Canada; exhibits on historical individuals designated “Women of Valor” and on “Women Who Dared,” which celebrates Jewish women activists who are “ordinary women who have done extraordinary things;” information about the Jewish Women’s Archive, and other resources.
By their very nature, archival resources are unique, and finding them presents unique problems. The principal tool for locating cataloged archival collections in the United States is the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC), published in print by the Library of Congress through 1993, and available online through the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN)’s Archival Catalog, which is also accessible through the NUCMC Internet site, http://lcweb.loc.gov/coll/nucmc/nucmc.html. Some research libraries also have The National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United States (NIDS US), a compilation of thousands of finding aids from hundreds of repositories (microfiche set published by Chadwyck-Healey), and ArchivesUSA, a database from Proquest/UMI that combines NUCMC, the NIDS US Index, and other material. Unfortunately, many collections languish uncatalogued and unreported to NUCMC. Compounding the problem, material relevant to Jewish women, and women in general, has long been obscured within the very repositories themselves, subsumed within family collections, those named for male relatives, and institutional or communal records combining various committees and organizations. The Social Welfare History Archives at the University of Minnesota spearheaded a project from 1975–79 that surveyed repositories in the United States for sources on women. This effort resulted in Women’s History Sources: A Guide to Archives and Manuscript Collections in the United States, edited by Andrea Hinding (2 v., New York: Bowker, 1979), which described over 18,000 collections in 1,586 repositories. Several collections of Jewish women’s organizations are included, and the index term “Jews” as well as the names of various Jewish organizations point to the papers of individual women with Jewish activities. However, since there was no systematic attempt to index as Jewish all Jewish women in the Guide, there are actually more collections of Jewish women’s papers present than appear at first glance.
Since 1979, the interest in recovering the role of women in the Jewish community has intensified, leading to the acquisition and description of much relevant print material within archives under Jewish auspices and elsewhere. In addition, many women whose accomplishments might have been lost to history because they kept no written records have been interviewed by oral history projects, and the tapes and transcripts from the projects are available in archives. Besides those listed below, there are numerous ongoing projects taping the testimony of women and men who survived the Holocaust and settled in America. For a description of the projects, including a breakdown by gender, see A Catalogue of Audio and Video Collections of Holocaust Testimony, by Joan Ringelheim, 2nd ed., Westport, Ct: Greenwood Press, 1992. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives is a source for written testimonies by women, described on the Museum’s Internet site (http://www.ushmm.org).
Thus, it is apparent that information about archival resources on Jewish women remains scattered and incomplete. The Jewish Women’s Archive has identified material on Jewish women in archives across the country and created a database that unifies access to the information. Other sources of information are published guides to repositories, available in many research libraries, and unpublished finding aids for individual collections, available through NIDS US or at the repositories. At present, many archival institutions are mounting their finding aids online and sometimes actual documents from their collections. Thisese developments can raise awareness of the priceless holdings throughout America documenting the contributions of Jewish women to all endeavors.
What follows is a preliminary list of significant repositories for researching Jewish women’s history, with information on published guides, the location of records of national offices of Jewish women’s organizations, and selected examples of collections of personal papers and oral histories. The absence of an institution from the list should not be taken to mean there are no relevant holdings in that repository. Preserved records of local affiliates of Jewish women’s organizations as well as papers of individual women active in their communities are apt to be in state or local historical societies, synagogues, or nearby Jewish historical museums and archives where they exist. University archives are a potential resource for finding papers and oral histories of Jewish women associated with universities.
NOTE: All dates pertain to the span of coverage within collections rather than birth and death dates for individuals, unless otherwise specified.
(Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives) Hebrew Union College
3101 Clifton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45220
Online Guide to Material on Women:
Archival/Manuscript Collections: Women includes short descriptions and links to existing online inventories.
Printed Guide: Clasper, James W. and M. Carolyn Dellenbach. Guide to Holdings of the American Jewish Archives. Cincinnati: American Jewish Archives, 1979.
Catalog: Manuscript Catalog 1991 (51 fiche)
Association for the Relief of Jewish Widows and Orphans, 1854–1938
B’nai Brith Women national records, 1947–85
Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women’s Clubs
National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, District Nine, Ohio
Valley Federation, 1913–78 (later called Women of Reform Judaism)
Major holdings of records for congregations, sisterhoods, and local women’s benevolent societies (“Hebrew Ladies Aid Society of...”)
Jeannette Bernstein, journal, 1957
Sarah Meyerfeld Blach, microfilm copy of diary, 1895–96
Amy Blank, letters, autobiography and poems, 1922–67
Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler, 1882–1925; concert pianist
Emma Brandon, letters, essays, etc., 1846–48; New York merchant’s daughter
Alice B. Citron, 1933–1879; educator, civil rights worker
Carrie Davidson, 1904–55; author
Ruby Diamond, microfilm of papers, 1891–1965; Floridian philanthropist
Lillian Adlow Friedberg, 1913–70; Executive Director Jewish Community Relations Council of Pittsburgh
Sophie G. Friedman, 1897–1953; lawyer in Memphis, TN
Jennie R. Gerstley, 1859–1934; founder Chicago Woman’s Aid; notes by Sarah Nunes Falter on Gerstley’s trip across the Atlantic in the 1850s.
Rose Bogen Gold, autobiography, 1905–41; nurse
Fanny Goldstein, 1933–61; librarian, West End Branch, Boston Public Library
Rebecca Gratz, misc. correspondence; philanthropist
Jeannette Grossman, Cambridge, OH family history, 1816–1956
Fanny Ellen Holtzmann, 1920–80; lawyer http://www.huc.edu/aja/Fanny.htm
Hannah Isaacs, scrapbook from Cincinnati, 1812–1945
Mrs. Morris Koch, scrapbook from Louisville, KY, 1940–65
Anna M. Kross, 1910–74; judge
Setty S. Kuhn, 1903–48; Cincinnati philanthropist
Desiree Marks Lazard (and Harry Harris), microfilm of scrapbook of her career as an actress and his as a boxer, 1897–1959
Tehilla Lichtenstein, sermons, correspondence, etc. from leader of the Jewish Science movement, 1929–70
Edna B. Manner, manuscripts of plays, stories, and poems by her and others, 1921–29
Jane Manner (Jennie Mannheimer), 1887–1954; founder Cincinnati School of Expression
Merle Judith Marcus, stage material, 1948–65
Adah Isaacs Menken, 1832–60; poet, actor
Annie Nathan Meyer, 1858–1950; founder, Barnard College, social activist, anti-suffragist, active in home economics movement
Annette Mishkin, 1952–62; Chicagoan
Penina Moise [b. 1797, d. 1880], microfilm of her 1854 hymn book, a scrapbook, and poems
Martha Neumark Montor; rabbinical school applicant in 1920s (correspondence file)
Amy Netter, Cincinnati scrapbook, 1890–1906
Jennie Franklin Purvin, 1868–1958; executive of Mandel Brothers Department Store, Chicago
Newmark [Neumark] Family Papers, includes two European travel diaries, 1887 and 1900, of Mrs. Harris Newmark
Julia Richman; school superintendent
Josephine H. Robi, diary of St. Louis to Salt Lake City trip, 1881
Rena M. Rohrheimer, 1935–50; efforts to get Jews out of Nazi-occupied Europe; travels
Bella Weretinkow Rosenbaum [b. 1880, d. 1960], diary, 1896–1904
Jeanette W. Rosenbaum, papers concerning her biography of colonial goldsmith Myer Meyers, 1951–54
Frieda S. Rosett, 1924–84; activist, National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, New Rochelle, NY
Marjorie Rukeyser, 1965–67; president, National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods
Stella Jessica Schifrin [b. 1917, d. 1974], scrapbook of social welfare leader in Rochester, NY, 1963
Clara Lemlich Shavelson; labor activist
Hannah Greenebaum Solomon; founder, National Council of Jewish Women (biographies file)
Frances Stern, 1921–67; nutritionist
Amy Hart Stewart [b. 1873, d. 1954], scrapbook from Norfolk, VA, 1873–1954
Marie Syrkin, 1915–89; journalist, editor of Jewish Frontier, professor
Anna Abeles Taussig, St. Louis memoir, 1830–86 (photocopy)
Sophie Tucker, 1911–1866; actress
Ida Uchill, 1859–1957; from Denver, CO
Ullman, Amelia, memoir St. Paul Forty Years Ago, A Personal Reminiscence, 1896
Weiss-Rosmarin, Trude, 1962–75; scholar, editor The Jewish Spectator
Women authors of histories of local communities
housed in the Jewish Division
New York Public Library
Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street
New York, NY 10018
Guide: American Jewish Committee. Oral History Library. Catalogue of Memoirs v. 1–3. New York: The Committee, 1978–93.
American Jewish Women of Achievement series, 1970s–
Ongoing collection of interviews in which women from all walks of life discuss their backgrounds, careers, voluntary activities, and families. Included are:
Bella Abzug, politician; Celia Adler, Yiddish actress; Beatrice Alexander, doll manufacturer; Dorothy Arnof, editor; Vera Bacal, fashion publicist; Hildegard Bachert, art gallery director; Jean Fensterham Baer, author; Georgette Bennett, banker, criminologist, journalist; Minna Bern, Yiddish actress; Hannah Shwayder Berry, family historian; Irma Bloomingdate, community leader; Elizabeth Blume-Silverstein, attorney; Rose Blumkin, businesswoman; Ann Bogart, fashion designer; Margaret Brenman-Gibson, psychoanalyst, author; Jane E. Brody, journalist, author; Andrée A. Brooks, journalist, author; Ethel Cohen, social worker; Iva Cohen, librarian; Rachel B. Cowan, rabbi, foundation director; Midge Decter, author; Ariel Durant, author; Hedda Edelbaum, public relations executive; Sara R. Ehrmann, community activist; Betty Weinberg Ellerin, judge; Estelle Ellis, marketing executive; Miriam R. Ephraim, community leader; Judith Epstein, community leader; Edythe First, community leader; Pauline Fischer, master needleworker; Ruth Fischer, writer; Susan Fisher, banker; Muriel Fox, public relations executive; Elizabeth Pope Frank, editor, writer; Marjorie Frankel, social worker; Estelle S. Frankfurter, labor relations specialist; Ruth Kaufman Friedlich, communications professional; Ellen Futter, college president, lawyer; Hortense W. Gabel, judge; Helen Galland, retailer; Karen N. Gerard, city government official; Manya Gerson, dentist; Temima Gezari, artist, teacher; Katya Gilden, author; Adele Ginzberg, community leader; Frances Gershwin Godowsky, singer, dancer; Elizabeth Bass Golding, judge; Barbara Goldsmith, author; Ellen Goodman, journalist; Arlene Rodbell Gordon, social service administrator; Jane S. Gould, researcher, writer, consultant; Virginia Graham, radio and television personality; Frances D. Green, civic leader; Joanne Greenberg, author; Martha Greenhouse, actress, union leader; Ilise Greenstein, actress, artist; Carol Greitzer, New York City official; Elinor Guggenheimer, civic planner and leader; Mildred Finger Haines; Jona F. Hamburg, broadcast journalist; Estelle Hamburger, fashion marketing consultant; Kitty Carlisle Hart, actress; Rita Hauser, attorney; Lenore Hershey, editor, writer; Elizabeth Holtzman, Congresswoman; Fanny Holtzmann, attorney, artist; Carole Hyatt, muarket/social researcher, author; Nina Hyde, fashion editor; Charlotte Jacobson, community leader; Joan L. Jacobson, community leader; Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, author; Tziporah Jochberger, music professor; Luba Kadison, actress; Melanie Kahane, interior and industrial designer; Grace LeBoy Kahn, composer; Jane Kallir, art gallery director; Fay Kanin, writer, producer; Lillian Vernon Katz, entrepreneur; Bel Kaufman, teacher, author; Dena Kaye, journalist; Sylvia Fine Kaye, producer; Francine Klagsbrun, author; Ida Klaus, attorney, labor mediator; Mirra Komarovsky, sociologist; Sarah Kovner, bank executive; Doris Milman Kreeger, physician; Brooke (Goren) Kroeger, Madeleine Kunin, Vermont governor; Esther R. Landa, civic leader; journalist; Natalie Lang, businesswoman; Pearl Lang; dancer, choreographer; Fran Lebowitz, writer; Dorothy (Weinstock) Leeds, author; Mildred Robbins Leet, civic leader; Frances Levenson, attorney, bank executive; Naomi Levine, university official, organization executive; Shirley I. Leviton, civic leader; Norma U. Levitt, civic leader; Judy Loeb, designer, entrepreneur; Hannah R. London, author, art historian; Katie Scofield Louchheim, author; Edith Davis Lyons, Planned Parenthood leader; Aline MacMahon, actress; Jennie C. MacMahon, mother of Aline; Beatrice Untermeyer Magnes, widow of Judah L. Magnes; Vivian Mann, art historian, Judaica curator; Minnie Marcus, widow of Herbert Marcus, co-founder, Neiman-Marcus; Ellen Stettner Math, cantor; Herta Mayer, Jewish communal worker; Pearl Bernstein Max, city administrator; Vladka Meed, community leader; Ruth W. Messinger, city government official; G.G. Michelson, labor relations executive; Elizabeth Model, sculptor; Bernadine Morris, journalist; Harriet Mouchley-Weiss, public relations executive; Bess Myerson, columnist, city official; Adele Gutman Nathan, theatrical producer, writer; Roberta Peters, opera singer; Molly Picon, Yiddish actress; Harriet F. Pilpel, attorney; Belva Plain, author; Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author; Justine Wise Polier, judge; Shirley Polykoff, advertising executive; Anna Maximilian Potok, furrier; Rose Radin, realtor; Raquel Ramati, architect; Rose Riskind, wife of general store proprietor in Southwest; Lilly Rivlin, writer, filmmaker, communicator; Eva Robins, lawyer, arbitrator; Dorothy Rodgers, columnist, Anne Roiphe, author; Sandra Priest Rose, educator; Helen Rosen, audiologist; Marcella Rosen, advertising executive; Lulla Adler Rosenfeld, actress, writer; Annette Rosenstiel, anthopologist, linguist; Blance Ross, business executive; inventor; Ruth Rubin, folklorist, archivist of Yiddish songs; Marcia Rudin; Janet Sainer, community services professional; Bernice Resnick Sandler, researcher, editor, women’s advocate; Dorothy Sarnoff, opera singer, author, speech teacher; Felice N. Schwartz, public sector executive; Martha Selig, wsocial agency and foundation executive; Bernice Shainswit, judge; Rose Shapiro, civic leader; Carole Shelley, actress; Claire Shulman, elected official; Shirley Adelson Siegel, attorney, state government official; Beverly Sills, opera singer; Caroline K. Simon, judge, government official; Kate Simon, author; travel writer; Adele Simpson and Joan Raines, mother/daughter fashion designers; Maida Herman Solon, psychiatric social worker; Joan Specter, elected official, entrepreneur, journalist; Johanna Spector, ethnomusicologist; Ruth Heller Stein, community leader; Marcia L. Stroch, physician, writer; Ellen Sulzberger Straus, radio station executive; Barbra Streisand, singer, actress, director; Sarah Swenson, artist; Betty Kaye Taylor, public official; Barbara W. Tuchman, historian; Helen Valentine, editor; Gertrude Viet, artist/designer; Judith P. Vladeck, lawyer; Claire Vogelman, designer, community and charity volunteer; Barbara Walters, producer, broadcast journalist; Anne Wilson Waugh, dancer, choreographer; Ruth B. Waxman; Claudia Weill, filmmaker; Margo Wolff, journalist; Lois Wyse, advertising executive; Gisela W. Wyzanski, community leader; Rosalyn S. Yalow, medical physicist.
Women include Alice A. Aboody, social worker, gestalt psychotherapist; Estrea Aelion; Naumi Alcalay, psychotherapist; Renée Arazie, administrator; Gloria Ascher, professor; Sarah Behar; Alegria Bendelac, professor; Ruth El-Hassid Blumberg, Fortuna Calvo-Roth, journalist; Irma M. Lopes Cardozo, rebbetzin; Aida Chitayat, apparel store owner; Rachel Dalven, author, translator, teacher; Diane O. Esses, rabbinical student; Leonie Lea Haboucha; Reginetta Haboucha, professor; Alice Sardell Harary, attorney, political activist; Lisa Holzkenner, psychoanalyst; Pauline Israel; Ninette Lugassy Kartchner; Levana Levy Kirschenbaum; Emilie de Vidas Levy, author; Tillie Molho; Viviane Aicha Ryan, legal professional; Stella Sardell Sanua, school psychologist, educator; Ruth Hendricks Schulson; Ruth H. Serels, teacher; Hannah Shahmoon, homemaker; Liliane Shalom, community leader; Linda Shamah, archivist, educational consultant; Rebecca Shamoon Shanok, social worker, psychologist; Esther Shear, caterer; Sélima, née Cohen-Zilkha, Stovola, fashion designer; Stella Varon Tarica; Bianca Levy Tolentino; Michele Uzari, social worker; Nina Avidar Weiner, foundation executive; Clara Zacharia, volunteer.
Dorothy Fosdick, advisor to Senator Henry M. Jackson; Susan Green, community relations professional; Charlotte Jacobson, community relations executive; Jacqueline Levine, community relations leader; Myra Shinbaum, community relations professional; Lynn Singer, community activist; Deborah Hart Strober, public relations professional; Ann Tourk, community relations professional
Women of Achievement, Atlanta (Tapes are also in the Jewish Heritage Center of Atlanta)
Hermie Alexander, remembered by others; Barbara Asher, Spring Asher, Barbara Balser, Virginia Rich Barnett, Miriam Belger, Rose L. Benamy, Rose Berkowitz, Rebecca Kresses Birnbrey, Ida Sloan Borochoff, Sylvia Breman, Lucinda Bunnen, Frances Bunzl, Helen Cavalier, Jean Cohen, Roz Pensa Cohen, remembered by others; Ethel Aaronson Copelan, Marilyn Romm Ehrlich, Edith Elsas, Hannah Weinstein Entell, Vivian Frankel, Miriam Freedman, Regina Gabler, Vida Goldgar, Rubye Eplan Goldstein, Irma Goldwasser, Helen Gortatowsky, Be Haas, Betty Geismer Haas, Katherine and Ruth Hertzka, Josephine Heyman, Carolyn Holland, Betty Ann Jacobson, Fanny Elizabeth Cahn Jacobson, Leah Janus, Carolyn Haas Kahn, Helen Schulman Kahn, Rose Abron Lahman, Miriam Strickman Levitas, Ada Miller, Mollie Orloff, Herta Sanders, Irene Schwartz, Caroline Massell Selig, remembered by others; Beverlee Soloff Shere, Betty Forman Smulian, Esther Taylor, Alene Fox Uhry, Nanette Wenger, Ethel Wise, Anne Spielberger Yudelson, and Ruth Zuckerman.
Women of Achievement, Cleveland (Tapes are also in the Western Reserve Historical Society)
Rena Blumberg, Libbie Braverman, Rebecca Ena Aronson Brickner, Isabelle Brown, Hilda Faigin, Joy Jacobs, Aileen Kassen, Joanne Kaufman, Maxine Goodman Levin, Anne Mushkin Miller, Eunice Podis, Elaine Rocker, Sylvia Shapiro, Dorothy Silver, Sophia S. Tharman, Rae C. Weil, Eleanor Weisberger, Frances R. Wolpaw, and Isabel Wolpaw.
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Family Across Three Generations
American Jews in Sports
Eldridge Street and Hebrew Orphan Home
Irving M. Engel Collection on Civil Rights
Jewish Repertory Theatre
Jewish Veterans of the Gulf War
Jews of New York
Jews of Shanghai
Lautenberg Collection of East European Jewish Communities
South African Jews in America
Soviet Jewry Movement in America
Soviet Jewish Emigrés in America
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
American Jewish Congress, Women’s Division.
Columbia Religious and Industrial School for Jewish Girls, records of New York school founded in 1888, 1905–44
Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations (NY), 1912–82 (formerly Federation of Sisterhoods)
Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, Women’s Organization
National Conference on Soviet Jewry, Women’s Plea, 1971–78
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Women’s Branch, 1923–68
Cecilia Razovsky Davidson, 1922–68; social worker, National Refugee Service leader
Lucy Dawidowicz; historian
Bilhah Abigail Levy Franks, 1733–1968; colonial correspondent
Harriet B.L. Goldstein, 1918–19; comptroller of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Rebecca Gratz [b. 1781, d. 1869], 1794–1869; Philadelphia educator
Nettie Friede Kosminsky [b. 1880]; travel diarist
Sarah Kussy, diary of Newark, NJ leader, 1898–1951
Emma Lazarus, 1869–87; poet, essayist
Ray Frank Litman, 1878–1957; lecturer, journalist
Alice Davis Menken, 1882–1935; social worker
Mordecai Family, 1771–1907, includes correspondence of several women members of the family
Sarah Ann Hays Mordecai [b. 1805, d. 1894], poems and illustrations, 1823–33
Rosalie Solomons Phillips [in Phillips Family Papers]; interests in Jewish institutions
Grace Seixas Nathan, 1805–30; poet, author
Molly Picon, 1876–1967; actress
Elvira Nathan Solis, 1893–1904; genealogist
Emily Solis-Cohen, 1923–36; author, educator, active in the National Jewish Welfare Board
Gertrude Wolf, 1910–42; secretary to Rabbi Stephen S. Wise
1052 N. Highland Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85721
Ten Jewish women pioneers: Clara Ferrin-Bloom, Dora Loon-Capin, Jennie Migel-Drachman, Rosa Katzenstein-Drachman, Josephine Sarah Marcus-Earp, Terese Marx-Ferrin, Anna Freudenthal-Solomon, Bettina Donau-Steinfeld, Julia Kaufman- Strauss, and Julia Frank-Zeckendorf; background descriptions found in Some Amazing Arizonan Jewish Women of the Past (Internet Site: http://parentseyes.arizona.edu/bloom/dolls.htm )
Chestnut Hill, MA 02167
Miriam Kallen, 1736–1975; progressive educator and sister of Judaic scholar Horace M. Kallen
Boston, MA 02215
Margaret Gene Arnstein, 1929–72; professor and dean of public health nursing
Helen Deutsch, 1890s–1960s; theatrical press agent, film writer
Bella Fromm (Steuerman), 1917–71; journalist, social columnist
Emma Goldman, 1907–39; anarchist, writer
Joanne Goldenberg Greenberg, 1950s– ; writer
Libby Holman, 1860s–1970; singer, actress
Maxine Kumin, 1940s; poet
Lenore Guinzburg Marshall, 1935–71; poet, novelist
Sylvia Rothchild (Sylvia Rossman), 1945– ; author
Ruth Seid (Jo Sinclair), 1922–60s; writer
Irene Mayer Selznick, 1910– ; theatrical producer
Theresa Wolfson, 1953–70; economist
Anzia Yezierska, 1922–70; writer
International Ladies Garment Workers Union, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, and other labor efforts are replete with references to women leaders and workers
1590 Docteur Penfield
Montreal, Quebec H3G 1C5
National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, 1916–75
Rose G. Jacobs, 1910–60; Hadassah leader (collection microfilmed)
Jessie Sampter; writer, Zionist
Alice Seligsman, 1917–42; Hadassah leader (collection microfilmed)
Henrietta Szold; Hadassah founder, writer, editor
North Avenue and Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
National Council of Jewish Women Chicago Section, 1898–1968 (includes material on founder Hannah Greenebaum Solomon)
Julia and Alice Gerstenberg; social leaders
Lillian Herstein, 1920–58; teacher, union leader
618 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Women’s Division (1933–64)
Spiegel Family, 1945–56 (includes Lizzie Barbe, first president of the Jewish Manual Training School of Chicago)
New York, NY
Box 20 Butler Library
New York, NY 10027
Theresa Goell, 1965; archaeologist
Dorothy Gordon; radio pioneer
Pauline Newman, 1965; labor activist
Sheba Skirball, 1976; librarian
New York, NY 10027
Bella Savitsky Abzug, 1970–76; Congressperson
Rose Franken, 1925–66; novelist, playwright
Emma Lazarus, correspondence, 1868–87; poet, essayist
Bella (and Sam) Spewack, 1920–80; writer
Ithaca, NY 14853
Stonehill/Schwartzkopf Family, 1904–09, includes
Elsie B. Schwartzkopf; teacher
Theresa Stonehill, memoir, 1904
CORNELL UNIVERSITY. CATHERWOOD INDUSTRIAL AND LABOR RELATIONS LIBRARY. LABOR MANAGEMENT DOCUMENT CENTER
229 Ives Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
National Consumers League, 1911–47, includes material from Josephine Goldmark
Teachers Union of the City of New York, 1916–64, includes material about Jewish women active in the union and defendants in cases
Theresa Wolfson, 1919–70; labor arbitrator
New York, NY
Ellis Island Oral History Project Among the Jewish women immigrants interviewed are Celia Adler, Bessie Cohen Akawie, Ida Ellis, Ida Feldman, Fannie Friedman, Mina K. Friedman, Evelyn Golbe, Sally Gurian, Gilda Hochman, Lillian Kaiz, Rose Krawetz, Sophie Kreitzberg, Minnie Laken, Rose Levine, Ruth Metzger, Fanny Shoock, and Gertrude Yellin
A slightly modified version of this bibliography is also found on pages 1553–86 (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.
50 West 58th Street
New York, NY 10019
Geller, L.D. The Henrietta Szold Papers in the Hadassah Archives, 1875–1965. N.P.: Hadassah: 1982.
Numerous series of records for Hadassah and its divisions, 1912–
Denise Tourover Ezekiel, 1935–81; attorney, national Hadassah Board member
Rose G. Jacobs, 1910–40; Hadassah president
Henrietta Szold, 1875–1982; Zionist leader, editor, translator, founder of Hadassah
Arlene Lewis, 1925–66; dietician, civic leader
1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Guide: Ashton, Dianne. The Philadelphia Group and Philadelphia Jewish History: A Guide to Archival and Bibliographic Collections. Philadelphia: Center for American Jewish History, Temple University, 1993. (Covers archives in Philadelphia and elsewhere.)
Mary Fels, 1907–52; writer, community leader
Gratz Family, 1825–91, includes material from Louisa, Caroline, and Elizabeth Gratz
4338 Bigelow Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Tapes and transcripts from the “Women, Ethnicity, and Mental Health” study conducted by Corinne Azen Krause sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, 1975. Includes 75 interviews with three generations of women in Jewish families in Pittsburgh area
Fort Wayne, IN
Records of Indiana sisterhoods, ladies aid societies, and branches of national women’s organizations
Minnette Baum; social work, Zionist leader
6505 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Various community records, including the Jewish Mothers Alliance
Jewish Oral History interviews include five women descendents of prominent Jewish families in the area
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
Hannah Arendt, 1958–65; author
Alice Salomon, 1746–1961; social worker
Selma Stern (Taubler), [b. 1890, d. 1981]; German-Jewish historian
P.O. Box 1258
New York, NY 10116
Guide: “Special Collections,” Lesbian Herstory Archives News 6 (July 1980): 3–4, and “Recent Acquisitions” in subsequent issues. The Archives holds memoirs, interviews, musical recordings, unpublished manuscripts, and photographs of Jewish lesbians.
Liza Cowan, 1970–89; broadcaster, publisher, founder of White Mare Archives
Deborah Edel, 1971– ; child psychologist, co-founder of Lesbian Herstory Archives
Maxine Feldman, 1970–89; composer, singer, music producer
Joan Nestle, 1968– ; writer, teacher, co-founder of Lesbian Herstory Archives
Adrienne Rich, 1950–78; writer
Sarah Schulman, 1980– ; writer, co-founder of Lesbian Avengers
Sonny Wainwright, 1972–85; writer, breast cancer activist, co-founder of Feminist Writers Guild
Maxine Wolfe, 1974– ; teacher, activist, co-founder of Lesbian Avengers
Washington, DC 20540
Guide: Kohn, Gary. The Jewish Experience: A Guide to Manuscript Sources in the Library of Congress. Cincinnati: American Jewish Archives, 1986.
National Council of Jewish Women, national office, 1929–1981
Hannah Arendt; historian
Berta Bornstein; psychoanalyst
Jo Davidson; sculptor
Lillian Evarts; poet
Anna Freud; psychoanalyst
Pauline Goldmark; social worker
Rebecca Gratz; educator
Rose Pastor Stokes; unionist
Correspondence and other material found in other collections:
Fanny Brice, Emma Goldman, Lillian Hellman, Fannie Hurst, Emma Lazarus, Golda Meir, Dorothy Parker, Ernestine Rose, Muriel Rukeyser, Rosida Schwimmer, Gertrude Stein, Henrietta Szold, Barbara Tuchman, Lillian Wald, Mizrachi Women of New York, National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, National Ladies Auxiliary of Jewish War Veterans of the USA.
Reba Silver; secretary
Archives and Manuscripts
345 Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
National Council of Jewish Women, Minneapolis Section, 1917–70
Fanny Fligelman Brin, 1896–1958; civic leader, pacifist
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N3
Guide: Tapper, Lawrence. Archival Sources for the Study of Canadian Jewry, 2nd ed. Ottawa: The Archives, 1987.
Hadassah-WIZO Organization of Canada, 1912–75
Clara Balinsky, 1959–83; Jewish community leader
Nina Fried Cohen, 1925–81; Jewish community leader
Sharon Drache, 1978–83; journalist
Sarah Fischer, 1874–1975; opera singer
Phyllis Gotlieb, 1949–74; poet
Sarah Gotlieb, 1932–83; Jewish community leader
Tilya Helfield, 1973–74; artist (Jewish headstone rubbings)
Clara (and Israel) Hoffer, 1887, 1905–74; author, farm pioneer
Suzann Cohen Hutner, 1921–81; co-publisher of Canadian Jewish Review
Fanny David Joseph, diary, 1871–86; Montreal life
Ethel Ostry, 1945–47; welfare officer with UN relief organization
Mirial Small, 1976–83; Jewish community leader
Miriam Waddington, 1927–82; poet
Blanche Wisenthal, 1955–71; Jewish community leader
Waltham, MA 02254
Numerous films in English and Yiddish portraying Jewish women.
1109 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10128
Guide: Subject Guide to the Collection of the Jewish Museum’s National Jewish Archive of Broadcasting. New York: Jewish Museum, 1988.
Audio and video tapes of programs such as “The Goldbergs,” interviews with Golda Meir and others, Saturday Night Live routines on Jewish women, and more.
1395 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10128
Clara de Hirsch Home for Working Girls, founded 1897
Elizabeth Holtzman, papers relating to her work as assistant to New York City mayor John Lindsay, 1968–69
130 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022
Guide: Oral History Collection of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York. New York: The Federation, 1985.
Many women are among the civic leaders and social service executives active in the New York Federation interviewed in the 1980s, including Frances L. Beatman, Elinor K. Bernheim, Adele G. Block, Irma Bloomingdale, Eleanore Louria Blum, Helen L. Buttenwieser, Rebecca Cauman, Cynthia Colin, Susan Cullman, Marjorie S. Dammann, Mary Froelich, Elinor Guggenheimer, Jane R. Heimerdinger, Hortense M. Hirsch, Anna Hollander, Margaret Loeb Kempner, Sadie Klau, Florence Kreech, Amy L. Kubie, May Linder, Frances L. Loeb, Eva Levy Marshall, Lucy G. Moses, Tanya Nash, Minnie Nathanson, Elizabeth K. Radinsky, Doris Roberts, Dorothy F. Rodgers, Doris L. Rosenberg, Carola W. Rothschild, Sarah Sussman Trommer, Jennie L. Whitehill, Susan Wimpfheimer, and Marjorie G. Wyler
40 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, NY 10023
Helen Tamaris, 1939–66; dancer, choreographer
Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street
New York, NY 10018
Fannia Mary Cohn, 1919–62; union official, educator
Babette Deutsch, 1923–41; poet, critic, author
Emma Goldman, 1906–40; anarchist, editor
Bel Kaufman, n.d.; author, teacher
Rose Pesotta, 1922–65; unionist, official of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union
Lillian D. Wald, 1918–40; Henry Street Settlement House founder
New York, NY 10012
Guide: Guide to the Manuscript Collection of the Tamiment Library, compiled by the staff of the Tamiment Collection, Dorothy Swanson, Librarian. New York: Garland, 1997.
Emma Goldman, 1924–40; anarchist, editor, activist
Rose Schneiderman, 1904–75; president National Women’s Trade Union League
Rose Pastor Stokes, 1905–33; socialist and communist activist, writer
Immigrant Labor History Project includes
Oral History of the American Left Collection
Fanny Cantor, 1974; Rose Raynes, 1979; Minnie Rivkin, 1980
Charlotte Litwack, manuscript and interviews for her Recollections: Conversations About the House of Jacob, 1976
Mittleman Jewish Community Center
6651 S. Portland
Portland, OR 97219
Interviews documenting the history of Jews in Oregon. About half the 70 interviews were with women, including Gertrude Sweet, labor organizer; Laddie Trachtenberg and Gertrude Feves; Neighborhood House workers; Molly Blumenthal, shipyard worker; Joanna Menashe (had arranged marriage on Rhodes); and Holocaust survivors Rochella Meekcom, Diana Golden, and Lydia Lax Brown
Balch Institute (merged with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 2002; collections are at the Society)
Guide: Nauen, Lindsay B. A Guide to the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center. Philadelphia: The Center, 1977.
Ashton, Dianne. The Philadelphia Group and Philadelphia Jewish History: A Guide to Archival and Bibliographic Collections. Philadelphia: Center for American Jewish History, Temple University, 1993 (Covers archives in Philadelphia and elsewhere.)
Association for Jewish Children and its predecessors, including the Jewish Foster Home and Orphan Asylum, founded by Rebecca Gratz
Hebrew Sunday School Society, 1838–1976, founded by Rebecca Gratz with an all-female board of directors
Na’amat USA [formerly Pioneer Women], Philadelphia Council, 1949–90
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, Philadelphia, 1964–78
Rita Gerstley, 1950–69; civic activist
Arline Lotman, 1971–74; Jewish Exponent colummnist
Sybil Richman Margolis, 1922–57; active in the American Jewish Congress, Philadelphia
Sarah Newhoff, 1915–58; philanthropist
Lena Schleindlinger, 1937; customhouse broker
Lily Garber Schwartz, 1967–76; secretary
Anne Smilowitz, 1926–46; secretary
Estelle Marie Soffin, 1906–12; childhood parody
Claire Mogell, 1976; Holocaust survivor
570 7th Avenue, 11th floor
New York, NY 10018
Guide: Lessing, Joan C. Jewish Immigrants of the Nazi Period in the U.S.A. vol. 3/1, Guide to the Oral History Collection of the Research Foundation for Jewish Immigration. New York: K.G. Saur, 1981.
Women interviewed in the 1970s included: Melitta Apt, housekeeper; Ella Levi Auerbach, social worker; Dorothy W. Becker, social worker; Martha Bergmann, Selfhelp Community Services worker; Edith Bick, social worker; Marie Bloch, volunteer social worker; Margaret Caim, housewife; Erna Einstein, clerk; Ruth Levy Eis, curator Judah Magnes Museum, Berkeley, CA; Charlotte Elsas, district leader, Democratic Party in New Rochelle, NY; Gertrud Falck Feuerring, businesswoman; Harriette Friedlander, social worker; Margaret Muller Goldschmidt, window designer; Regina Goldstine, social worker; Thea Prinz Heimann, housewife, candy store manager; Brigitte Hirschfeld, secretary; Helen Kober, social worker; Carrie Kroff, social service aide; Rosa Lustig Kubin, research chemist; Maria Bratz Leschnitzer, school administrator; Regina Ullmann Martin, co-owner resort hotel; Irma Mayer, Selfhelp Community Services case worker; Ruth Meyer, housewife; Thekla Meyerbach, social worker; Margaret Meseritz Muehsam-Edelheim, journalist, archivist; Freda Muhr, social worker; Alice Nauen, pediatrician; Alice Oppenheimer, editor of congregational newsletter; Charlotte Pick, dental nurse; Lillian Ringler-Young, translator, librarian; Margaret Rosskamm, photographic assistant; Ilse Wirth Rossman, salesperson; Anneliese Cohen Schein, bank manager; Gabriele Schiff, officer of Selfhelp; Susan Strauss, American-born student; Ellen Taxer, teacher, German professor; Margaret Dzialoszynski Tietz; Irma Tyson, social worker; Kaethe Wurtenberg, housewife, volunteer social worker; and Orah Zimmer, Palestine-born.
Cambridge, MA 02138
Catalog: The Manuscript Inventories and the Catalogs of Manuscripts, Books and Periodicals, 2nd. rev. ed. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1984; All Schlesinger holdings are catalogued in the Harvard University Online Library System Catalog (HOLLIS) accessible via telnet to hollis.harvard.edu. The Schlesinger Library Homepage provides a link to HOLLIS and instructions on accessing and using it.
Celia Adler [b. 1902], fictionalized autobiography, 1980–89; seamstress
Jennie Loitman Barron, 1911–69; judge
Lilllian Rifkin Blumenfeld, autobiography, 1974; teacher, fascination with Jungian psychology
Judy Chicago, 1970–96; artist
Helene Deutsch, 1900–1984; psychoanalyst
Sara Rosenfeld Ehrmann, 1910–69; civic worker, Brookline, MA
Betty Friedan, 1952–93; author, feminist leader
Theresa Goell, 1920–85; archaeologist
Doris B. Gold, 1962–83; publicist, writer, editor, founder Biblio Press
Patricia Gold, 1964–90; nurse, women’s liberation activities in Boston
Bertha Sanford Gruenberg, 1898–1985; lecturer, journalist, director of camp using John Dewey’s progressive principles
Elinor Coleman Guggenheimer, 1959–80; day care and planning advocate
Frances Fineman Gunther, 1915–63; journalist, moved to Israel
Lilli Cohen Kretzmer, 1950–76; assisted refugees from Germany
Gerda Lerner, 1955–81; historian, author
Theresa J. Morse, 1935–51; social service worker, National War Labor Board
Maud Nathan, 1890–1938; social reformer, Consumers’ League leader
Pauline Newman, 1974; labor movement activist
Justine Wise Polier, 1892–1990; lawyer, judge, juvenile justice advocate, daughter of Rabbi Stephen and Louise Waterman Wise
Rebecca Hourwich Reyher [b. 1897, d. 1987], n.d.; writer, lecturer, suffragist
Adrienne Rich, 1933–84; poet, teacher
Dorothy F. Rodgers, 1922–87; businesswoman, inventor, volunteer, wife of composer Richard Rodgers
Beatrice Sadowsky, 1928–84; transportation executive
Barbara Seaman, 1920–83; women’s health activist
Barbara Miller Solomon, 1936–88; historian, university dean
Henrietta Szold, correspondence, diary, 1875–1918
Northampton, MA 01063
Guide: Murdock, Mary-Elizabeth. Catalog of the Sophia Smith Collections, Women’s History Archive, 2nd ed. Northampton, MA: Smith College, 1976
Catalog: Catalogs of the Sophia Smith Collection. Women’s History Archive. 7 v. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1975.
Anna Moskowitz Kross, n.d.; New York City Commissioner of Corrections
Florence Rena Sabin, 1871–1953; physician, medical researcher
Geraldine Stern, n.d.; artist, author
Tillie Olsen, 1930–90; writer
Syracuse, NY 13244
Gertrude Berg, 1930–62; radio and television actress
Jan Gelb (and Boris Margo), 1915–70; artist
403 Seventh Ave., N
Nashville, TN 37243
Fedora Small Frank, 1843–1964; author, historian
TULANE UNIVERSITY. HOWARD-TILTON MEMORIAL LIBRARY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS DIVISION. MANUSCRIPTS DEPARTMENT
New Orleans, LA 70118
Guide: Collections related to Southern Jewish history are described on the Internet at http://www.tulane.edu/~lmiller/JewishStudiesIntro.html, based on work by Andrew Simons, 1995.
Doris Laurie Chesky, 1950–75; music teacher
Fanny Leverich Eshleman Craig, family papers, 1765–1958
Mathilde Dreyfous, 1952–71; civil rights activist
Ruth Dreyfous, scrapbook, 1948
Ida Weiss Friend, 1837–1963; social and civic activist (finding aid on the Internet Site)
Amelia Greenwald, 1908–66; nurse
Sadie Irving, 1893–1970
Corinne A.M. Lehmann, 1948–52; electoral candidate
Miriam Levy, 1920s–1950s; artist, jeweler
Clara Lowenburg Moses, Natchez, MS memoir, 1870s–1920s,
Edith M. Stern, article, ca. 1943
Lucy Ater, 1974; caterer
Renee Samuel Bear, 1974; nurse
Archival Resources: University of California, Berkeley Bancroft Library – University of Washington Libraries
2372 Ellsworth Street
Berkeley, CA 94720
Project has collected tens of thousands of documents by and about anarchist, birth control advocate, lecturer, editor Goldman from libraries and other sources around the world. Much of this is published in the Project’s Emma Goldman Papers: A Microfilm Edition (Chadwyck-Healey, 1991). Exhibits from the Project can be viewed on the Internet at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Goldman/
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY. BANCROFT LIBRARY MANUSCRIPTS DIVISION
Berkeley, CA 94720
Ellise Stern Haas (includes letters from Alice B. Toklas)
Clara Garfinkle Shirpser, 1948–73; Democratic National Committeewoman, California
California Jewish Community
Project conducted by the Regional Oral History Office, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, from 1968 to the 1980s and underwritten by the Western Jewish History Center. Women interviewed included Janet Choynski, San Francisco civic leader; Elise Stern Haas, San Francisco art patron, civic leader; Lucile Heming Koshland, San Mateo County civic leader; Rose Rinder, San Francisco Hadassah founder; Helen Arnstein Salz, San Francisco artist, civil libertarian; and Sylvia Lehmann Stone, San Francisco community volunteer.
Other oral histories:
Flori Jacobi Arnstein, 1985; poet, teacher
Amy Steinhart Braden, 1960–64; social worker
Elizabeth Ehrman, 1972; early resident of Atherton, CA
Ann Eliaser, 1983; fundraiser
Mrs. Alex L. Goldstein, 1966; migration from Odessa to Bismarck, ND, to Portland, OR
Lorraine Guggenheim, 1966; discusses grandparents and the Gold Rush
Elinor Raas Heller, 1984; volunteer career in politics
Ruth Arnstein Hart, 1978; civic volunteer, Berkeley
Ernestine Hara Kettler
Alice Gerstle Levison, 1966; social leader, San Francisco
Rebecca Hourwich Reyher; suffragist, National Woman’s Party activist (in the Suffragists Oral History Project, 1977)
Clara Garfinkle Shirpser, 1975; community and political leader, Berkeley
Sylvia Stone, 1983; volunteer, San Francisco
Elsa R. Wiel, 1971; early resident of Atherton
Rosalie Walter Wolf, 1971; early resident of Atherton
Rosalind Weiner Wyman; Los Angeles City Council member and Democratic Party activist (in the Women in Politics series)
801 South Morgan Street
P.O. Box 8198
Chicago, IL 60608
Helen Aaron, 1942–72; Chicago civic leader
Rose Greenbaum Hass Alschuler, 1916–73; philanthropist, nursery school expert
Esther Loeb Cohen, 1896–1965; social worker
Hilda Satt Polacheck, 1910–58; resident of Hull House neighborhood, writer
Esther Saperstein, 1949–75; Chicago alderperson
Ann Arbor, MI
Marge Piercy, 1950–1987; writer (There is also an interview with her in the New Left in Ann Arbor Contemporary History Project, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.)
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN – WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY. INSTITUTE OF LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS. PROGRAMS ON WOMEN AND WORK
Victor Vaughan Building
1111 East Catherine Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
The Twentieth Century Trade Union Woman: Vehicle for Social Change Oral History Project, 1970–79, includes interviews with Mollie Levitas, Pauline Newman, and other Jewish labor leaders.
Flora Langermann Spiegelberg, 1879–1939
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA. WILSON LIBRARY. MANUSCRIPTS DEPARTMENT. SOUTHERN HISTORICAL COLLECTION
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Many collection descriptions are mounted on the Internet via http://www.unc.edu/lib/mssinv/
Rachel Lyons Heustis, 1859–1965, resident of South Carolina, correspondence with authors and soldiers
Mordecai Family, 1783–1947, correspondence of female seminary director Jacob Mordecai with his wives, sons, and daughters
Miriam Gratz Moses, letters, 1824–64; from her aunt Rebecca Gratz and others
Phillips-Myers Collection includes material from Confederate Eugenia Levy Phillips and her daughter Caroline Phillips Myers
420 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Guide: Ashton, Dianne. The Philadelphia Group and Philadelphia Jewish History: A Guide to Archival and Bibliographic Collections. Philadelphia: Center for American Jewish History, Temple University, 1993 (Covers archives in Philadelphia and elsewhere.)
Mary M. Cohen (and Charles J.), 1846–1920; journalist, poet, civic leader
Emily Solis-Cohen (Solis-Cohen Family Papers), 1857–1948; writer and activist (additional papers held privately, at Wolf, Block, Shorr and Solis-Cohen Law Firm, Philadelphia)
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Records of Pittsburgh chapters of Hadassah (1917–68) and the National Council of Jewish Women (1893–1967), and for the Pittsburgh Conference of Jewish Women’s Organizations (1923–63).
P.O. Drawer 7219
Austin, TX 78713
Lillian Hellman, 1931–70; playwright
Fannie Hurst, 1927–60; novelist
Seattle, WA 98195
Jeanette Schreiber, 1956–80; active in Jewish women’s organizations in Seattle
Bella Kracower Secord, 1898–1925; pharmacist
Jewish Archives Project, 1849–1975
Includes some records of Jewish women’s organizations in Washington state; interviews covering the first half of the twentieth century with Sophie Altose, Libby Anches, Lydia Angel, Rose Arensberg, Laura Berch, Minnie Bernhard, Rosa Scharhon Berro, Helen Birkman Blumenthal, Ruth Kutoff Lukov Brenner, Sema Calvo, Jennie Caston, Betty Dreifus, Joanna Eckstein, Esther Friedman, Fannie Gens, Bernice Degginer Greengard, Esther Gross, Hannah Grunbaum, Rachel Cohen Israel, Rebecca Israel, Victoria Israel, Manya Lawson, Louisa F. Levy, Esther Lighter, Edith Rosenberg Lindenberger, Ada Loussac, Edith Lurie, Rebecca Morhaime Mosheatel, Emma Ginsberg Nelson, Rose Ringold, Esther Schreiber Rogoway, Stella Sameth, Jennie Schermer, Anita Snyder, Emelie Steinbrecher, Mary Sussman, Perla Bensal Uziel, Ruby Clein Webber, and Gertrude Pearl Wolfe; and interviews with several women members of Seattle’s Sephardic community.
Judah L. Magnes Museum
2911 Russell Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
Guide: Rafael, Ruth Kelson. Western Jewish History Center Guide to Archival and Oral History Collections. Berkeley: WJHC, Judah L. Magnes Memorial Museum, 1987.
California Alliance of Jewish Women (college students), 1922–58
Emanu-El Sisterhood for Personal Service (San Francisco organization that sponsored a residence home for young Jewish working women for over forty years), 1894–1969
Ladies United Hebrew Benevolent Society (San Francisco), 1868 resolution
Records of various congregational sisterhoods and local chapters of national women’s organizations
Flora Jacobi Arnstein, 1884–1974; poet, author, teacher
Ruth Frey Axe, 1883–1973; teacher, secretary
Bassya Maltzer Bibel (and Philip Bibel), 1813–1969; poet, secretary, actress
Gertrude Block, 1912–70; teacher
Selma Ruth Miguel Cohn, 1881–1971; soprano, concert vocalist
Lily Edelman (and Nathan Edelman), 1927–44; educational administrator, author, editor
Regina Gans, scrapbooks, 1880–1908; singer
Vera Greenfeld, plaque and citations, 1963–77; gynecologist/obstetrician, founder California Alliance of Jewish Women
Jennie Harris, 1902–72; businessperson, songwriter
Lila B. Hassid, 1959–71; translator of Yiddish works, Jewish folklore radio program host, Jewish community center director
Rosa Heynemann (and Herman Heynemann), silver anniversary book, 1873; charities interests
Adele Solomons Jaffa (and Meyer E. Jaffa), 1880–1968; physician, lecturer in dietetics, child psychiatrist
Florence Prag Kahn (and Julius Kahn), 1852–1948; teacher, Congressperson
Sonia Levitin, 1968–71; author, columnist, educator
Estelle Goodman Levy, 1850–1973; active in organizations in the Southwest
Miriam Fligelman Levy, 1943– ; human rights and peace activist, youth advocate
Sophie Gerstle Lilienthal [b. 1859], photograph album, n.d.; homemaker
Hattie Mooser and Minnie Mooser, 1877–1967; hostesses for gatherings of people in the arts, proprietors of San Francisco’s first supper club
Helen Motto, 1930–72; active volunteer in Santa Barbara
Celia Ragooland, scrapbook, 1928–32; active in Young Judea and Junior Hadassah in Denver
Alice Greenbaum Rosenberg (and Abraham Rosenberg), 1860–1977; homemaker
Bashe Rubenchik Rosenbloom, 1909–80; active in music and reading groups in Petaluma
Ida Poriss Rude, 1921–68; vocalist
Marilyn Sachs, manuscript for A Pocket Full of Seeds, 1973; children’s books author, librarian
Margaret Victoria Samuels, diary, 1932; depicts social life in San Francisco
Fanny Jaffe Sharlip, 1880–1960s; factory worker, shopkeeper
Sarah Spiegelman, high school graduation album, 1914
Rosalie Meyer Stern, 1842–1977; San Francisco civic and social leader
Henriette Moscowitz Voorsanger (and Elkan Voorsanger), 1872–1985; secretary
Rebecca Voorsanger, scrapbook on Judaism in San Francisco area, 1897–1901
Alma Lavenson Wahrhaftig, papers and photographs, 1855–1985; photographer
Anzia Yezierska, 1954–71; writer (most of her papers are at Boston University)
Jewish Lives in Perspective
Interviews by Vista College, University of California, Berkeley students, sponsored by WJHC. Women interviewed: Naomi Kain, embroiderer, welder, bus driver; Margaret Lion, language teacher; Carol Walter Sinton, weaver; and Vera Stein, pharmacist.
Northern California Jews From Harbin, Manchuria
Women interviewed: Eve Naftaly, counselor; Geda Traig; Polina Zikman.
San Francisco Jews of Eastern European Origin, 1880–1940
Project conducted 1976–78, sponsored by the WJHC and the American Jewish Congress, San Francisco. Women interviewed: Celia Alpert, socialist; Bassya Maltzer Bibel, poet, actress, Yiddish concerns; Lilan Cherney, homemaker; Zena Druckman, dressmaker, union activist; Rose Hartman Ets-Hokin, social worker; Fannie Heppner, community leader; Jean Braverman La Pove, homemaker; Thelma Rosenberg, secretary, clerk; Ida Block Smith, resident of San Bruno District; and Vivian Dudune Solomon, resident of San Bruno District.
Miscellaneous Additional Oral Histories:
Flori Jacobi Arnstein, poet, teacher; Ann Cohn, teacher; Elizabeth Elkus, teacher; Grace Lubin Finesinger, chemist; Betty Hamburger, political activist; Dorothy Lubin Heller, physician; Dora Iventosch, resident of Berkeley; Alphine Jacobs, social worker, volunteer; Anne L. Kay, resident of Berkeley, founder of California Alliance of Jewish Women; Lilli Jerusalem Klein, secretary to Judah L. Magnes; Esther Reutlinger, businessperson, benefactor; Ethel Silverstein, union representative; Irene Stein, artist; Belle Lesser Ginsberg Tilin, resident of Oakland; Henriette Moscowitz Voorsanger, secretary, fundraiser; and Alma Lavenson Wahrhaftig, photographer.
10825 East Blvd.
Cleveland, OH 44106
Guide: Pike, Kermit J. A Guide to Jewish History Sources in the History Library of the Western Reserve Historical Society. Cleveland: The Society, 1983.
Cleveland chapters of Hadassah, National Council of Jewish Women, and Women’s American ORT
Mary B. Grossman, 1921–66; lawyer
Jeanette Sheifer, 1921–79; nursery school administrator
Selma H. Weiss, 1926–46; social worker
816 State Street
Madison, WI 53706
Guide: Guide to the Wisconsin Jewish Archives at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 2nd. ed. Madison: The Society, 1992 and Leuchter, Sara, with the assistance of Jean Loeb Lettofsky. Guide to Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust: A Documentation Project of the Wisconsin Jewish Archives. Madison: SHSW, 1983.
Myrtle Baer, 1854–1963; social worker and editorial staff member of the Settlement Cook Book (housed in the Area Research Center, Milwaukee)
Edna Ferber, 1910–77; author
Irma Greenthal (and Alex. P.), 1894–1978; niece of Lizzie Black Kander
Myra Hess, 1950–69; concert pianist
Lizzie Black Kander, 1875–1960; author, Settlement Cook Book (housed in the Area Research Center, Milwaukee)
Elizabeth Brandeis Raushenbush (and Paul A.), 1918–80; economist
Elva Simon, scrapbook, 1930–84; community volunteer
Lilly Strauss, 1946; account of concentration camp experiences
Adele Szold, letters by University of Wisconsin freshman to her sister Henrietta, other letters, 1895–96
Documenting the Midwestern Origins of the Twentieth century Women’s Movement Project, 1987–92, includes Gene Boyer, businesswoman
Wisconsin Jewish Oral History Interview Project, 1954–74, included these women: Pela Rosen Alpert, Holocaust survivor, Green Bay; Ida Berkowitz, Kenosha; Clara Brown Milwaukee; Esther Shapiro Cohen, Milwaukee; Esther Levitan Goldstine, Madison; Nellie Jacob, La Crosse; Bessie Katz, Madison; Minnie Kopelberg, Madison; Fannie Miller, Green Bay; Mollie Putterman, Beloit; Bertha Langer Raymond, Milwaukee; Rae Ruscha, Marinette, Milwaukee; Rose Alice Vogel Schneider, Superior; and Nellie Bornstein Winter,
Evelyn Torton Beck, 1975 interview
6101 Yellowstone Road, LL
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Jennette Warsharsky Bernstein, 1954–75; historian of Wyoming Jewish community
New Haven, CT 06511
Mina Loy, 1914–60; poet, painter, playwright
Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, 1901–87; authors
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
National Desertion Board (dealt with thousands of cases of desertion by immigrant Jewish husbands)
Pioneer Women [later Na’amat] national records, 1913–52; Zionist organization
United Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, 1907–1950 records preserve HIAS’ efforts on behalf of immigrant women (and men)
YIVO holds the records for numerous individual landsmanshaftn (organizations of immigrants from a particular community), which often include women’s divisions. For example, the American Federation for Polish Jews (federation of landsmanshaftn) records include the Women’s Division, Ezra, founded in 1931.
Diana Blumenfeld (and Jonas Turkow), ca. 1930–61; Yiddish actors
Ida Hoffman, ca. 1900–1966; nurse, social worker
Sarah Liebert, 1920–55; president, Sholem Aleichem Women’s Organization
Lillian Lux (and Paul Burstein), 1930–79; Yiddish comedians and actors
Rina Opper (pen name of Rayne Opoczyski), 1921–69; Yiddish writer
Anna Shomer Rothenberg, 1916–51; singer and community activist
Rose Schwartz, 1900–1974; officer of the women’s division of the a landsmanshaftn federation
Dora Weissman (and Anshel Shor) papers, 1906–66; Yiddish actors, owned talent agency
Amerikaner-Yiddishe Geshichte Bel Pe Collection
Marsha Farbman, 1963; Pearl Halpern, 1965; Esther Kadar, 1964; Pauline Newman, 1965; Feigl Shapiro, 1964; Flora Weiss, 1964; Ella Wolf, 1963
Oral History transcripts of interviews conducted 1974–75 for the book Jewish Grandmothers by Jenny Mazur and Sydelle Kramer
How to cite this page
Weisbard, Phyllis Holman. "Annotated Bibliography and Guide to Archival Resources on the History of Jewish Women in America." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 27, 2017) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/annotated-bibliography-and-guide-to-archival-resources-on-history-of-jewish-wom>.