Judaic Studies in the United States
Within the past few generations, Judaic Studies, a field that was traditionally dominated by men, has gradually witnessed the emergence of many women scholars, a trend that has accelerated in the past fifteen years. Since the 1980s, women have made important contributions to the fields of modern history, the social sciences, and literature through a Jewish lens. Although many female scholars in Judaic Studies have focused on the modern period, some spearheaded the study of classical Jewish texts and premodern history and introduced the study of gender into scholarly research on Jewish topics. Many of today’s female scholars have assumed academic positions, leveraging their scholarly expertise to combat contemporary racial and economic injustices through a feminist approach.
When the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS) was established in 1969 as the professional organization of scholars in the interdisciplinary field of Judaic studies, there were no women among its founders. Within the past few generations, however, a field that was traditionally dominated by men has gradually witnessed the emergence of a significant number of women scholars. The earliest of those scholars were clustered in modern Jewish history, literature, and the social sciences; by the first decades of the 21st century, for the first time in Jewish history the study of Jewish texts and culture was no longer virtually a male preserve.
Women Enter the Field of Judaic Studies
Both traditional Jewish culture, which held the study of Bible and rabbinic texts as an ideal, and the modern Western university excluded women from their ranks. It is no surprise, then, that in America there were no women in the nascent field of Judaic studies. Most of the earliest professors of Semitics and later of Jewish history acquired their expertise through their study for the rabbinate, a profession closed to women in America until 1972.
Beginning in the 1960s, the expansion of the field of Judaic studies in American universities coincided with the entry of women in substantial numbers into PhD programs. Under the impact of feminist consciousness, increasing numbers of women have specialized in Judaic studies over the past sixty years, assuming positions in American colleges and universities and leading the way by introducing considerations of gender into the study of both Jewish history and literature.
Even before the expansion of Judaic studies, a few women had scholarly careers in the field, although generally without receiving as much recognition as they merited. Naomi Cohen (1927-2018) worked as a professor of American Jewish history at Hunter College until her retirement in 1996. Lucy Dawidowicz (1915–1990) held positions at the YIVO Institute and Yeshiva University and wrote widely for Jewish publications, but she only became well known as a scholar after the publication of The War Against the Jews in 1975. Two refugee scholars from Europe, Rachel Wischnitzer (1885–1989) in the field of the history of Jewish art and architecture and Selma Stern Taübler (1890–1981) in early modern European Jewish history, concluded their careers in the United States but had little impact on the American academy.
Modern Jewish Historians
Since the 1980s, these pioneer historians have been joined by a host of others. Modern Jewish history has proven especially appealing to women in Judaic studies, initially because it required less specialized knowledge of religious texts but increasingly because it offers opportunities for original work in social and women’s history. Columbia University provided women scholars with an informal cohort within which they could network. Paula Hyman (1946-2011) served as the Lucy Moses Professor of Modern Jewish History at Yale University; she specialized in modern French Jewish history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and contributed to the growth of the field of Jewish women’s history, having co-edited two encyclopedias of Jewish women’s social and cultural history. Columbia produced not only Hyman but also historians Esther Feldblum (1933–1974) and Deborah Dash Moore, who contributed significantly to our understanding of American Jewish ethnicity and of Jewish life in the United States. Harriet Freidenreich, who has published on Jews in east central and central Europe, and Marion Kaplan, whose work has been on German Jewry, also received their doctorates from Columbia. Working with Hyman at Columbia University, Vicki Caron, Marsha Rozenblit, and Shulamit Magnus also published important studies on the history of Jews in modern Europe, while Jenna Weissman Joselit illuminated a broad swath of American Jewish culture. Ellen Umansky, a specialist in Jewish women’s spirituality and religious leadership, received her PhD from Columbia in the Department of Religion.
Brandeis University provided another significant network of women scholars, including Frances Malino and Phyllis Cohen Albert, both of whom specialize in modern French Jewish history, and Deborah Lipstadt, whose work focuses on the Holocaust and Holocaust denial. Other specialists in American Jewish history, such as Hasia Diner and Pamela Nadell, both specialists in American Jewish history, were joined by a younger generation of scholars who have trained at a wider variety of American universities. In American Jewish history these included Beth Wenger, Karla Goldman, and Melissa Klapper; in European Jewish history, they included Maud Mandel, Nancy Sinkoff, Carole Balin, and Sarah Abrevaya Stein.
The Social Science
The social sciences also proved supportive of female scholars. Shulamit Reinharz applied her sociological tools and interest in women’s studies not only to research on women in the Jewish community in Palestine prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. "Old Yishuv" refers to the Jewish community prior to 1882; "New Yishuv" to that following 1882.Yishuv, the pre-state Jewish settlement of Palestine, but also to the creation of the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University and to the Hadassah–Brandeis Institute. Ewa Morawska and Shelly Tenenbaum published significant works of historical sociology on Jews in America. As a quantitative sociologist, Rela Geffen (1944-2019) conducted several important studies on American Jewish women. Similarly, Sylvia Barack Fishman explored contemporary American Jewry, particularly American Jewish feminism. Women have also conducted ethnographic studies as sociologists, anthropologists, and folklorists. Lynn Davidman produced an ethnographic study of Ba’alot Teshuvah [newly Orthodox women].
“Outsiders” to Judaic Studies
In the social sciences and in history, some scholars have specialized in the study of the Jews although they were not trained in Judaic studies or formally attached to Judaic studies programs. As “outsiders” to the field, they often promoted a sensitivity to gender lacking in the graduate education of those who received their doctorates in Judaic studies or religious studies. Deborah Hertz, for example, focused on German Jewish history as a historian of modern Germany. Joyce Antler, trained in the interdisciplinary field of American studies, has written widely on American Jewish women’s experience and literature. Sociologist Debra Kaufman, one of the founding Directors of Jewish Studies (and founding Director of Women’s Studies) at Northeastern University, brought a feminist approach to the study of Ba’alot Teshuvah; her later work explores Holocaust narratives and contemporary Jewish identities among a relatively understudied population, Jewish millennials. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett has written not only on Eastern European and immigrant American Jewish folklore, but also on the representation of Jewish culture in a variety of venues. As a specialist in American studies, Riv-Ellen Prell began her career with an ethnographic study of a havurah [religious fellowship] and later explored stereotypes of American Jewish women in her book Fighting to Become Americans. Yael Zerubavel has written on the construction of Israeli collective memory.
Literature has often been depicted as the field most appropriate for female scholars, in both Hebrew and Yiddish literature and in American Jewish literature. Women teach Hebrew language and (generally modern) literature in Judaic studies programs throughout America. Anne Lapidus Lerner teaches Hebrew literature at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where she served from 1993 to 1999 as that institution’s first female vice-chancellor; Chana Kronfeld has taught modern Hebrew literature at the University of California at Berkeley since about 1985; Naomi Sokoloff teaches Hebrew literature at the University of Washington. Esther Fuchs, at the University of Arizona, has focused on gender issues in her study of Israeli literature, while New York University’s Yael Feldman has provided a psychological analysis of that literature. Focusing on the Bible and its impact on modern literature, Nehama Aschkenasy teaches at the University of Connecticut. Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi and of Sara Horowitz have focused primarily on Jewish literature of the Holocaust.
Ruth Wisse was one of the first professors of Yiddish literature in North America and has contributed to the dissemination of knowledge about Yiddish culture through her monographs and edited books of literature in translation. Anita Norich has combined her interests in English and Yiddish literature in her teaching and focuses on twentieth-century Yiddish prose in her writing. Chana Bloch, Marcia Falk, Katherine Hellerstein, and Naomi Seidman have combined scholarship with translation. Bloch specializes in translation of Hebrew poetry, Falk in both Hebrew and Yiddish poetry, Hellerstein in Yiddish poetry, and Seidman in Hebrew prose. All have also published their own poetry.
Classical Jewish Texts and Premodern History
Although female scholars in Judaic studies have worked primarily on the modern period, a handful of women have been pioneers in the study of classical Jewish texts and premodern history. Adele Berlin, Tikva Frymer-Kensky, and Carol Meyers have contributed to the field of biblical studies. Judith Hauptman became the first woman to teach Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Judith Romney Wegner, who trained first as a lawyer, received her PhD and has published in the field of rabbinics; Charlotte Fonrobert and Miriam Peskowitz are leading representatives of the next generation of women scholars in rabbinics. Judith Baskin specializes in both rabbinic Judaism and medieval Jewish history; her two edited collections, Jewish Women in Historical Perspective and Women of the Word: Jewish Women and Jewish Writing, are important resources for teaching about Jewish women’s history and for incorporating gender perspectives into general courses. In her innovative work on tkhines (Jewish women’s liturgy of the early modern period) and especially in her book Voices of the Matriarchs, Chava Weissler opened the area of women’s spirituality and popular culture to scholarly investigation. Jane Gerber who focuses on Descendants of the Jews who lived in Spain and Portugal before the explusion of 1492; primarily Jews of N. Africa, Italy, the Middle East and the Balkans.Sephardi Jewry, both in Spain and in its Lit. (Greek) "dispersion." The Jewish community, and its areas of residence, outside Erez Israel.diaspora, expanded her interests from the medieval to the modern period. Two scholars, Hava Tirosh-Samuelson (formerly Tirosh-Rothschild) and Tamar Rudavsky, have published work on Jewish philosophy of the medieval period.
Women in the field of Jewish Studies have explored a wide range of subjects from many disciplinary perspectives. As a group, however, their greatest impact has been the introduction of gender into scholarly Jewish Studies research. As prejudice against female scholars has decreased, as the field of Judaic studies has expanded, and as opportunities for women to receive a traditional Jewish education have grown, younger women are distributed more evenly across the field than were their predecessors. With the entry of large numbers of women into the field and under the impact of women’s studies, the construction of “Jewish learning” as well as the image of the “learned Jew” has been transformed.
The Next Generation of Scholars
The above is almost an exact copy of the entry the late Paula Hyman contributed to the 2006 edition of this encyclopedia; the remainder of this piece focuses on scholars who have emerged over the past few decades. The trends Hyman described have accelerated over the past fifteen years. An explosion has occurred in the kinds of scholarship and scholarly programs that represent Jewish Studies in U.S. colleges and universities. Concomitantly, women have grown in visibility and voice across a myriad of fields both traditional and new. They have increased among the professorial ranks as full and named professors and as chairs, deans, provosts, and directors of traditional and innovative programs. They increasingly cross disciplinary fields in their explorations of Jewish themes and have established new foci of investigation and revived old ones, some with a postmodern twist. Perhaps even more importantly, many bring their scholarship to the population at large as feminists for racial and economic justice. The Association for Jewish Studies (AJS) and its women’s caucus (recently renamed the Gender Justice caucus) have instituted many programs to help younger scholars (for example, the Task Force on Contingent Faculty Program) and a Distinguished Lecturer series through which scholars can bring their work to audiences beyond the halls of academe. Perhaps one of the most notable changes in the field of Jewish Studies is the continuing use of a gender and/or feminist approach, either implicitly or explicitly, in analytical writing and teaching about a myriad of topics.
Women Doing Gender/Feminist Scholarship in Sacred Settings
In 2020, Shuly Rubin Schwartz became the first woman to serve as chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, founded in 1886. As one of the first women on the JTS faculty and the Irving Lehrman Research Associate Professor of American Jewish History and Walter and Sarah Schlesinger Dean of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies, she was instrumental in bringing Jewish gender studies into the curriculum—part of a persistent and growing trend of the explicit use of feminist/gender perspectives and concerns in the interpretation of texts.
Marjorie Lehman is Associate Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at JTS. Through an examination of Tractate Yoma, she uses a gender approach to the study of mothers in Jewish culture. Her book, Bringing Down the Temple House: Engendering Tractate Yoma, was published in 2022. While at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, she was part of a cohort of scholars working on feminist commentaries on the Babylonian Talmud.
Barbara Mann is professor of cultural studies and Hebrew Literature and the Chana Kekst Professor of Jewish Literature at JTS and author of Space and Place in Jewish Studies and A Place in History: Modernism, Tel Aviv and the Creation of Jewish Urban Space. Her work has literally opened new spaces and places for academic exploration.
Sarah Wolf is Assistant Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at JTS and Fellow of the Kogod Research Center at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Her research explores the use of emotions as legal categories in rabbinic literature and puts classical Jewish legal thought into conversation with contemporary Anglo-American legal theory, a research interest she developed as a fellow at Cardozo Law School’s Consortium in Jewish Studies and Legal Theory.
Rabbi Dr. Rachel Adler, the David Ellenson Professor of Modern Jewish Thought at the Reform movement’s HUC-JIR’s Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, also represents many of the “firsts” in the field of modern Jewish thought. As a theologian/ethicist, she was among the first to integrate feminist perspectives and concerns into the interpretation of Jewish texts and renewal of Jewish law and to write on Jewish feminist theology and ethics. Adler proposed an innovative legal model for Jewish marriage rooted in partnership law rather than property law.
Wendy Zierler is the Sigmund Falk Professor of Feminist Studies and Modern Jewish Literature at HUC-JIR in New York and co-editor of Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History.
Rabbi Dr. Gail Labovitz, Professor of Rabbinic Literature and former Chair of the Department of Rabbinics of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of American Jewish University, was formerly a Senior Research Analyst in Judaism for the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project at Brandeis University and Coordinator for the Jewish Women’s Research Group, a project of the Women’s Studies Program at JTS. She is also founder and coordinator of the AJS Dr. Elka Klein Memorial Travel Grant. Her work covers feminist commentary on the Babylonian Talmud and the construction of gender in rabbinic literature. Her 2021 book, Massekhet Mo’ed Qatan, is a feminist commentary on the Babylonian Talmud.
Dr. Joy Ladin, the recipient of many awards, including a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Writing Fellowship and a Fulbright Scholarship, is a poet and former David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women. She is the author of several books, including The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective.
Women Doing the Sacred within Secular Settings
Women trained as rabbis who teach and research in non-Jewish settings bring a wealth of Jewish resources to secular universities and colleges. Dr. Vanessa Ochs was Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and a core member of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Virginia, as well as an AJS Distinguished lecturer. She was among the first to emphasize the everyday practices of Judaism and the invention of ritual from a feminist perspective.
Ruth Langer is Professor of Jewish Studies in the Theology Department at Boston College an Associate Director of its Center for Christian-Jewish Learning. She writes and speaks in two major areas: the development of Jewish liturgy and ritual and Christian-Jewish relations.
Other women, whether trained as rabbis or not, teach in divinity schools housed in secular institutions. Jacqueline Vayntraub, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Yale Divinity School, seeks to recover the values of ancient literary culture through close textual analysis. She contributes to a new understanding of biblical poetry as powerful and ancient verbal performances and dramatic speeches from the past and argues that a character’s voice, deeds, and body shape the meaning of biblical texts. Her book is entitled Beyond Orality: Biblical Poetry on Its Own Terms. Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies and Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School; she is also an Affiliated Professor of the Woolf Institute, Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge UK. Author of The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, she holds honorary doctorates from six universities and moves between two fields of inquiry by addressing controversies and topics between and within the New Testament and Jewish Studies.
Institutes and Programs for Feminist Jewish Scholarship
Gender and a feminist perspective find their way into the academy both explicitly and implicitly. Some scholars have founded and/or head Institutes within their colleges and universities that house, educate, and promote the study of gender/feminism. At Brandeis University, for example, Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, who holds three law degrees, is the Shulamit Reinharz Director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, a faculty affiliate in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, founder of the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law, editor of the Brandeis University Press Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law, and Associate Editor of the HBI Series on Jewish Women. She brings a feminist model to her innovative analysis of women’s rights under Jewish family law and the intersection between secular and religious family law. As co-founder of the Boston Woman who cannot remarry, either because her husband cannot or will not give her a divorce (get) or because, in his absence, it is unknown whether he is still alive.AgunahTask Force, she represents a growing trend of contemporary academic women devoted to activism outside of the academy.
Also at Brandeis, Dalia Wassner is Director of the HBI Project on Latin American Jewish & Gender Studies. She focuses on feminist cultural responses to violence in a trans-Atlantic frame, collective memory and memory politics, and cultural connections between Jews and other minorities involved in Latin American processes of national democratization. She is author of Harbinger of Modernity: Marcos Aguinis and the Democratization of Argentina.
Lori Hope Lefkovitz was Founding Director of Kolot: The Center for Jewish Women and Gender Studies. Her influence beyond the academy is documented in several past projects, including Rosh Hodesh: "It's a girl thing!" and, together with Ma'yan, the founding of Ritualwell.org, a website for contemporary Jewish ritual. Now Ruderman Professor of Jewish Studies in the English Department and Director of the Humanities Center and the Jewish Studies Program at Northeastern University, she was among the first to bring sexualities into her courses.
Literature, Culture, and the Arts
Chair in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Program at Brandeis University. She wrote the first full-length study of renowned Israeli poet, translator, peace activist, and 1998 Israel Prize laureate Dahlia Ravikovitch (1936-2005). Zobel focuses on emerging trends within the academy, such as gender and trauma studies, psychoanalysis, disability studies, and Israeli film. By introducing students to works of art, film, dance, and music, she aims to expose them to the critical study of Hebrew and Israeli culture.
Jessica Lang is Associate Professor of English at Baruch College and the founding Newman Director of Baruch’s Wasserman Jewish Studies Center. In her work, she questions representations of the Holocaust and the act of reading itself as she expands modes of inquiry post Holocaust.
Maya Barzilai crosses departments and programs as Associate Professor of Hebrew literature and Jewish culture in the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, the Department of Middle East Studies, and the Department of Comparative Literature and Germanic languages at the University of Michigan. Her work has brought attention to the role of the translator by focusing on German-Hebrew translation discourse and practice. Her award-winning book Golem: Modern wars and their monsters (2016) explores the mass appeal of golem tales concerning artificial creation in the German-speaking world around the time of World War I, as well as the ongoing association of golem figures with war technologies in American and Israeli cultures.
Samantha Baskind is Professor of Art History at Cleveland State University, author of several books, and co-editor of The Jewish Graphic Novel: Critical Approaches, an acknowledged forerunner to the study of the graphic novel in Jewish artistic and literary culture.
Gannit Ankori is Henry and Lois Foster Director and Chief Curator of the Rose Art Museum and Professor of Fine Arts and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University, as well as an affiliate of The Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, The International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, Film, Television and Interactive Media and Latin and Latino American Studies. She has focused on contemporary topics from a variety of perspectives, not only emphasizing gender/feminist perspectives but also by introducing new foci on hybridity and disability. Ankori is internationally renowned for her groundbreaking scholarship on Frida Kahlo.
Lital Levy, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, is a leader in the burgeoning field of cultural politics and language. Debra Caplan, Assistant Professor of Theater at Baruch College, City University of New York, has helped revive an interest in Yiddish theater. She is co-founder of the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project.
Laura Leibman is Professor of English and Humanities at Reed College. Her work brings a new focus to the study of Early American Jewish life through her attention to material culture. She is the author of two award-winning books, The Art of the Jewish Family: A History of Women in Early New York in Five Objects (2020) and Messianism, Secrecy and Mysticism: A New Interpretation of Early American Jewish Life (2012). Her 2021 book Once We Were Slaves focuses on an early multiracial Jewish family who began their lives enslaved in the Caribbean and became some of the wealthiest Jews in New York. She also curates the Jewish Atlantic World database and has served as academic director for a multimedia television series American Passages: A Literary Survey (2002).
History and Archeology
Elisheva Carlebach is Salo Wittmayer Baron Professor of Jewish History, Culture and Society in the History Department and Director of the Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies at Columbia University. As the Chair/Director/Editor of the Association for Jewish Studies Review, member of the Academic Advisory Council of the Center for Jewish History, and the President of the American Academy for Jewish Research, she has introduced new foci in the study of Jews and Jewish thought in early modern Europe by pushing the intellectual boundaries of scholarly research on the cultural, intellectual, and religious history of the Jews in Early Modern Europe. Her areas of interest include the intersection of Jewish and Christian culture and its effect on notions of tolerance, religious dissent, conversion, messianism, and communal governance.
Lila Corwin Berman is Professor of History at Temple University, where she holds the Murray Friedman Chair of American Jewish History and directs the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History. Her wide-ranging areas of expertise cover corporate life, urban studies, and identity politics.
Laurel Leff is Associate Professor of Journalism, the Stotsky Professor of Jewish Historical and Cultural Studies, and the Associate Director of the Jewish Studies Program at Northeastern University. Her award-winning books extend Holocaust research to include media accountability in the reporting of the Holocaust and the underexplored topic of the refusal to hire European Jewish professionals in U.S. institutions during the Holocaust.
Emily J. Levine is Associate Professor of Modern European History at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is author of the award-winning Dreamland of Humanists: Warburg, Cassirer, Panofsky, and the Hamburg School (2013) and Allies and Rivals: German-American Exchange and the Rise of the Modern Research University (2021). Her numerous publications in major academic journals, acknowledge her significant scholarly work in the history of ideas both within Jewish Studies and modern European History.
Before serving as President of the Tenement Museum in New York, Annie Polland was the first female executive director of the American Jewish Historical Society. She is the author, with Daniel Soyer, of Emerging Metropolis: New York Jews in the Age of Immigration, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award. She also served as Vice President of Education at the Museum at Eldridge Street, where she wrote Landmark of the Spirit.
Julia Phillips Cohen, Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, broadens the geographic scope of modern historical inquiry with her work on Sephardic, Slavic, and Eurasian populations. The many awards for her 2014 book reflect her influence on creating a more inclusive focus on understudied populations in Jewish Studies.
Ronit Stahl is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at University of California Berkeley and a faculty affiliate of the religious diversity cluster of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. She is an historian of modern America and her work focuses on religious pluralism in American society by examining how politics, law, and religion interact in institutions.
Magda Teter is the Shvidler Chair in Jewish Studies and Professor of History at Fordham University. She specializes in early modern religious and cultural history, with emphasis on Jewish-Christian relations in eastern Europe, the politics of religion, and transmission of culture among Jews and Christians across Europe in the early modern period. She is the co-founder and editor of the Early Modern Workshop, an open-source site with historical texts and videos of scholars discussing them.
Religion and Classical Rabbinic Literature
Jessica Marglin is Ruth Ziegler Early Career Chair in Jewish Studies and Associate Professor of Religion and Law in the School of Religion at USC Dornsife. She contributes to the growing body of scholarship on religion and the law both within Judaism and beyond.
Leora Batnitzky, the Ronald O. Perelman Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religion, has not only received the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University but has contributed to a revisioning of contemporary political theory and modern Jewish thought in her first two well-received books. In 2011, she published How Judaism Became a Religion: An Introduction to Modern Jewish Thought.
Beth Berkowitz is the Ingeborg Rennert Chair of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religion at Barnard College. Her expertise in classical rabbinic literature places her as a member of the steering committee for the History of Judaism section of the American Academy of Religion and co-chair of the Rabbinics division and the Theorizing Jewish Difference division of the Association for Jewish Studies.
Nina Caputo is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Florida. Her work on medieval history and interfaith relations highlights the critical role of Judaism in this period. In her co-edited volume with Andrea Sterk, Faithful Narratives: Historians, Religion, and the Challenge of Objectivity (2014), she introduces a key feminist concern in the field of religion and history: the issue of objectivity.
Laura S. Lieber is Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Smart Family Director of the Duke Center for Jewish Studies, Director of the Duke-UNC Center for Late Ancient Studies. Like others in this section of ancient and medieval studies, she represents the growing number of women in a field once held as traditionally male. Similarly, medievalist Sara Lipton is a Professor of History and Jewish Studies in the Department of History at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has published two award-winning books (1999, 2014).
Shari Rabin, Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Religion at Oberlin College, is a scholar of modern Judaism and American religions. She is the author of the award-winning Jews on the Frontier: Religion and Mobility in Nineteenth-century America (2017) and is writing a history of Jews, religion, and race in the American South.
Claire Sufrin was Associate Professor of Instruction in Jewish Studies in the Department of Religious Studies and Assistant Director of Jewish Studies at the Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies at Northwestern University, before becoming Senior Editor at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Her co-edited book The New Jewish Canon (2020) covers some of the major debates and controversies over the past two generations on topics of history and memory, Jewish politics and the public square, religion and religiosity, and identities and communities, pointing to new avenues for scholarly research.
The Social Sciences
Harriet Hartman, Professor Emeritus at Rowan University, has contributed to the development of both quantitative and qualitative research in the field of Sociology and Jewish Studies through her work on contemporary Jewish identities and family studies.
Sarah Benor, Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at HUC-JIR, is at the forefront of sociolinguistics and the field of Jewish Studies. As editor of the Journal of Jewish Languages, the Jewish Language Website, and the Jewish English Lexicon, she is a leader in the revival of the scholarly study of Yiddish.
Yael S. Aronoff is the Michael and Elaine Serling and Friends Chair of Israel Studies, Director of Jewish Studies, and Associate Professor of International Relations at Michigan State University. Her scholarship on asymmetric conflicts contributes to a new model for understanding the tensions faced by democracies such as Israel and the United States. Her expertise extends well beyond the academy, having served as Assistant for Regional Humanitarian Programs in the Pentagon’s Office of Humanitarian and Refugee Affairs and in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a Jacob K. Javits Fellow.
Laura Limonic is Associate Professor of Sociology at the College of Old Westbury of the State University of New York. Exploring issues of ethnicity, race, class, and religious community among Jewish immigrants in her award-winning 2019 book, she builds on a growing body of sociological scholarship on understudied populations in both Jewish Studies and Hispanic Studies.
Keren R. McGinity is a lecturer in American Studies at Brandeis University, a Research Associate at HBI, and the Interfaith Specialist for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. She was also the inaugural director of the Interfaith Families Jewish Engagement graduate program at Hebrew College. Her books represent less traditional analytic frameworks for intermarriage in the U.S.
Maxine Schwartz Seller is Professor in the Graduate School of Education and Adjunct Professor in the Department of History at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is the author or editor of nine books and dozens of articles and reviews and has held several national offices.
Jennifer Thompson is the Maurice Amado Professor of Applied Jewish Ethics and Civic Engagement and the Director of the Jewish Studies Program at California State University, Northridge. She has brought Jewish ethics into the secular curriculum and contributed to a growing gendered approach to intermarriage and Jewish identities.
Jewish women’s contributions to the academic world have grown over the years since Paula Hyman made her entry to the 2006 volume of this Encyclopedia. She would welcome with all her scholarly might the growth in status and stature of women in Jewish Studies; the opening of new fields of inquiry, especially in feminist, gender and sexuality studies; and the presence of Jewish Studies Programs in Universities and Colleges across the country.
Gender and Women’s Studies
Adler, Rachel. Engendering Judaism: an inclusive theology and ethics. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1998.
Adler, Rachel. “The Jew Who Wasn’t There: Halacha and the Jewish Woman.” Response: A Contemporary Jewish Review (Summer 1973).
Ankori, Gannit, Circe Henestrosa, and Hillary Olcott. Frida Kahlo and San Francisco: Constructing Her Identity. San Francisco: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 2020.
Ankori, Gannit. Frida Kahlo. London: Reaktion Books, 2013.
Ankori, Gannit, Frida Kahlo (Critical Lives) London: Reakton Books, 2013.
Antler, Joyce. The Journey Home: Jewish Women and the American Century. New York: Free Press, 1997.
Antler, Joyce. You Never Call! You Never Write!: A History of the Jewish Mother. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Aschkenasy, Nehama. Eve’s Journey: feminine images in Hebraic literary tradition. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986.
Baskin, Judith, ed. Jewish Women in Historical Perspective. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991.
Baskin, Judith, ed. Women of the Word: Jewish Women and Jewish Writing. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994.
Biale, Rachel. Women and Jewish Law: An exploration of women’s issues in Halakhic sources. New York: Schocken Books, 1984.
Davidman, Lynn. Tradition in a Rootless World. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.
Davidman, Lynn. Motherloss. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.
Davidman, Lynn, and Shelly Tenenbaum, eds. Feminist Perspectives on Jewish Studies. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.
Diner, Hasia. Her Works Praise Her: A history of Jewish women in American from colonial times to the present. New York: Basic Books, 2002.
Falk, Marcia. The Book of Blessings. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1996.
Falk, Marcia, ed. and trans. Song of Songs: A New Translation and Interpretation. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1990.
Falk, Marcia, ed. and trans. With Teeth in the Earth: Selected Poems of Malka Heifetz Tussman. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1992.
Fishbane-Joffe, Lisa. Gender, Religion, and Family Law: Theorizing Conflicts Between Women’s Rights and Cultural Traditions. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2012.
Fishbane-Joffe, Lisa, and Bennion, Janet, eds. The Polygamy Question. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2016.
Fishbane-Joffe, Lisa, and Banda, Fareda, eds. Women’s Rights and Religious Law. London: Routledge, 2016.
Fishbane-Joffe, Lisa. “Introduction: New Historical and Socio-Legal Perspectives on Jewish Divorce.” Nashim: A Journal on Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues, no. 31 (Spring-Fall 2017): 7-10. https://doi.org/10.2979/nashim.31.1.01.
Fishman, Sylvia Barack. A Breath of Life: Feminism in the American Jewish Community. New York: Free Press, 1993.
Fonrobert, Charlotte. Menstrual Purity. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000.
Freidenreich, Harriet. Female, Jewish, Educated. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.
Frymer-Kensky, Tikva. In the Wake of the Goddesses: Women, Culture and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth. New York: Free Press, 1992.
Frymer-Kensky, Tikva. Reading the Women of the Bible. New York: Schocken Books, 2002.
Frymer-Kensky, Tikva, Matthews, Victor Harold, and Levinson, Bernard M., eds. Gender and Law in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998.
Fuchs, Esther. Israeli Mythogynies: women in contemporary Hebrew fiction. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987.
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Kaplan, Marion. The Making of the Jewish Middle Class: Women, Family, and Identity in Imperial Germany. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
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Ladin, Joy. The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2018.
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Peskowitz, Miriam and Laura Levitt, eds. Judaism Since Gender. New York: Routledge, 1997.
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Plaskow, Judith. The Coming of Lilith: Essays on feminism, Judaism, and sexual ethics, 1972-2003. Boston: Beacon Press, 2005.
Prell, Riv-Ellen. Fighting to Become Americans: Assimilation and the trouble between Jewish women and Jewish men. Boston: Beacon Press, 1999.
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Rogow, Faith. Gone to Another Meeting: The National Council of Jewish Women, 1893–1993. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1993.
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Sokoloff, Naomi, Anne Lapidus Lerner, and Anita Norich. Gender and Text in Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literature. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1993.
Sufrin, Claire and Kurtzer, Yehuda, eds. The New Jewish Canon: Ideas and debates 1980-2015. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2020.
Tirosh-Samuelson, Hava. Women and Gender in Jewish Philosophy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.
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Umansky, Ellen. From Christian Science to Jewish Science: Spiritual healing and American Jews. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
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Wassner, Dalia. Harbinger of Modernity: Marcos Aguinis and the Democratization of Argentina. Leiden: Brill, 2013.
Wassner, Dalia. "The Transnational Mexican Renaissance: Mexican–American Jewish Women Crafting National Authenticity." Contemporary Jewry 41.4 (2021): 887-900.
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Religion, History, and the Social Sciences: History
Albert, Phyllis Cohen. The Modernization of French Jewry: Consistory and community in the nineteenth century. Hanover: Brandeis University Press, 1977.
Albert, Phyllis Albert and Frances Malino, eds. Essays in Modern Jewish History: A tribute to Ben Halpern. Rutherford: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1982.
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Balin, Carole. To Reveal Our Hearts: Jewish women writers in Tsarist Russia. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2000.
Baskind, Samantha. Raphael Soyer and the Search for Modern Jewish Art. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
Baskind, Samantha, and Ranen Omer-Sherman, eds. The Jewish graphic novel: Critical approaches. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2010.
Baskind, Samantha, and Larry Silver. Jewish Art: A Modern History. London: Reaktion Books, 2011.
Baskind, Samantha. The Warsaw Ghetto in American Art and Culture. State College, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018.
Batnitzky, Leora. Leo Strauss and Emmanuel Levinas: Philosophy and the Politics of Revelation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
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Caron, Vicki. Between France and Germany: The Jews of Alsace-Lorraine, 1871–1918. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988.
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Hyman, Paula. The Jews of Modern France. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
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Joselit, Jenna Weissman. Our Gang: Jewish crime and the New York community, 1900-1940. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983.
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Leff, Laurel. Well Worth Saving: American Universities’ Life-and-Death Decisions on Refugees from Nazi Europe. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019.
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Lipton, Sara. Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Jewish Iconography. New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company, 2014.
Lipton, Sara. Images of Intolerance: The Representation of Jews and Judaism in the Bible Moralisée. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 1999.
Magnus, Shulamit. Jewish Emancipation in a German City: Cologne, 1798-1871. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997.
Malino, Frances. A Jew in the Revolution: The Life of Zalkind Hourwitz. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1996.
Malino, Frances. The Sephardic Jews of Bordeaux: Assimilation and Emancipation in Revolutionary and Napoleonic France. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1977.
Malino, Frances and Wasserstein, Bernard, eds. The Jews in Modern France. Hanover: University Press of New England, 1985.
Malino, Frances, and Thomas Nolden, eds. Voices of the Diaspora: Jewish women writing in contemporary Europe. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2005.
Mandel, Maud. In the Aftermath of Genocide: Armenians and Jews in twentieth-century France. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.
McGinity, Keren R. Marrying Out : Jewish Men, Intermarriage & Fatherhood. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014.
McGinity, Keren R. Still Jewish: A History of Women and Intermarriage in America. New York: New York University Press, 2009.
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Moore, Deborah Dash, et al. Jewish New York: The Remarkable Story of a City and a People. New York: New York University Press, 2017.
Polland, Annie, and Daniel Soyer. Emerging Metropolis: New York Jews in the age of immigration, 1840-1920. Vol. 2. New York: New York University Press, 2012.
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Seller, Maxine. Ethnic Theatre in the United States. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1983.
Seller, Maxine. To Seek America: A History of Ethnic Life in the United States. Englewood: J. S. Ozer, 1977.
Sinkoff, Nancy. Out of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands. Providence: Brown Judaic Studies, 2020.
Stahl, Ronit Y. Enlisting Faith: How the Military Chaplaincy Shaped Religion and State in Modern America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017.
Sterk, Andrea, and Nina Caputo, eds. Faithful narratives: historians, religion, and the challenge of objectivity. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014.
Stillman, Yedida K., and Norman A. Stillman, eds. and trans. Travail in an Arab Land. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1989.
Stillman, Yedida K., and George K. Zucker, eds. and trans. New Horizons in Sephardic Studies. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.
Teter, Magda. Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland: A Beleaguered Church in the Post-Reformation Era. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Teter, Magda. Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011.
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Fishman, Sylvia Barack. Jewish Life and American Culture. Albany: State University of New York, 2000.
Fishman, Sylvia Barack. Double or Nothing? Jewish families and mixed marriage. Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2004.
Geffen, Rela, ed. Celebration and Renewal: Rites of Passage in Judaism. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1993.
Geffen, Rela and Elazar, Daniel J., eds. The Conservative Movement in Judaism: Dilemmas and Opportunities. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000.
Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. Destination Culture: Tourism, museums, and heritage. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara and Luczan Dobroszycki. Image Before My Eyes: A photographic history of Jewish life in Poland, 1864-1939. New York: Schocken Books, 1977.
Limonic, Laura. Kugel and Frijoles : Latino Jews in the United States. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2019.
Marglin, Jessica M. Across Legal Lines: Jews and Muslims in Modern Morocco. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016.
Morawska, Ewa. Insecure Prosperity: Small-town Jews in Industrial America, 1890-1940. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996.
Prell, Riv-Ellen. Prayer and Community: The Havurah in American Judaism. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1989.
Tenenbaum, Shelly. A Credit to Their Community: Jewish Loan Societies in the United States, 1880–1945. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1993.
Thompson, Jennifer A. Jewish on Their Own Terms: How Intermarried Couples Are Changing American Judaism. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2014.
Weissler, Chava. Making Judaism Meaningful: Ambivalence and Tradition in a Havurah Community. New York: AMS Press, 1989.
Zerubavel, Yael. Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
Aschkenasy, Nehama. Biblical Patterns in Modern Literature. Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1984.
Barzilai, Maya. Golem: Modern wars and their monsters. New York: New York University Press, 2016.
Bloch, Chana, and Ariel Bloch, eds. and trans. The Window: New and Selected Poems/Dahlia Ravikovitch. New York: Sheep Meadow Press, 1989.
Bloch, Chana, and Stephen Mitchell, eds. and trans. The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
Ezrahi, Sidra DeKoven. By Words Alone: The Holocaust in Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.
Ezrahi, Sidra DeKoven. Booking Passage: Exile and homecoming in the modern Jewish imagination. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.
Feldman, Yael, and Barry Olshen, eds. Approaches to Teaching the Hebrew Bible as Literature in Translation. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1989.
Feldman, Yael. Modernism and Cultural Transfer: Gabriel Preil and the Tradition of Jewish Literary Bilingualism. Brooklyn, NY: KTAV Pub. House, 1985.
Feldman, Yael. No Room of Their Own: Gender and nation in Israeli women’s fiction. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.
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Levy, Lital. Poetic Trespass: Writing between Hebrew and Arabic in Israel/Palestine. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014.
Norich, Anita. Homeless Imagination in the Fiction of Israel Joshua Singer. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991.
Seidman, Naomi. A Marriage Made in Heaven: The sexual politics of Hebrew and Yiddish. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
Sokoloff, Naomi. Imagining the Child in Modern Jewish Fiction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.
Szobel, Ilana. Flesh of My Flesh: Sexual Violence in Modern Hebrew Literature. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2021.
Szobel, Ilana. A Poetics of Trauma: The Work of Dahlia Ravikovitch. Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2013.
Bible, Rabbinics, and Philosophy
Berlin, Adele. Biblical Poetry Through Medieval Eyes. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991.
Berlin, Adele. Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative. Sheffield: Almond Press, 1983.
Hauptman, Judith. Development of the Talmudic Sugya: Relationship between Tannaitic and Amoraic sources. Lantham, MD: University Press of America, 1988.
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Rudavsky, Tamar, ed. Divine Omniscience and Omnipotence in Medieval Philosophy: Islamic, Jewish, and Christian Perspectives. Boston: D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1985.
Rudavsky, Tamar, ed. Time Matters: time, creation, and cosmology in medieval Jewish philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000.
Tirosh-Rothschild, Hava. Between Worlds: The Life and Thought of Rabbi David ben Judah Messer Leon. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991.
Tirosh-Samuelson, Hava. Happiness in Premodern Judaism: Virtue, knowledge, and well being. Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 2003.
Vayntrub, Jacqueline. Beyond Orality: Biblical Poetry on Its Own Terms. New York: Routledge, 2019.
Wolf, Sarah. “Suffering and Sacrifice: Towards a Hermeneutics of Yisurin in the Babylonian Talmud.” Studies in Late Antiquity 3, no. 1 (2019): 56-76. https://doi.org/10.1525/sla.2019.3.1.56.