Education: Jewish Studies
Nima Adlerblum was a writer, educator, and early Zionist activist in New York, whose life began and ended in Jerusalem. She wrote widely on philosophy, education, Jewish philosophy, and American history, contributing to encyclopedias and scholarly journals.
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.
Dora Askowith, author, historian, and college educator, believed that a knowledge of Jewish women’s history would serve as a catalyst for organization, activism, and moral leadership. She taught women at Hunter College for a total of forty-five years, and wrote that she was anxious to teach college students Jewish history because they were “poorly versed in the history of their own faith.”
Since the beginning of British colonialization of New South Wales in 1788, when between eight and fifteen Jews were among the convicts who arrived with the First Fleet, several waves of immigration have brought the Jewish population up to its present size.
Evelyn Torton Beck is Professor Emerita of women’s studies as well as an affiliate faculty member in the Jewish studies and comparative literature programs at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). She is a scholar, a teacher, a feminist, and an outspoken Jew and lesbian on campus. With her energy and drive, the state flagship campus has become a more welcome place for Jewish, female, and homosexual students, faculty, and staff.
Rose I. Bender’s lifelong dedication to and support of a Jewish homeland began at an early age. She was taught the finest Talmudic traditions by her parents and was inspired by their love of Zion to become a guiding light for American Zionism and a Philadelphia Jewish community leader.
Already the best-known woman sociologist of her generation, she quickly became an important voice of American feminism.
In her essay entitled “What is the Use of Jewish History?” Lucy S. Dawidowicz wrote that ahavat Yisrael, the love of the Jewish people, was a crucial ingredient in writing Jewish history. She went on to say that “Some people think that the professional historian’s personal commitments—to his people, his country, his religion, his language—undermine his professional objectivity. Not so. Not so, as long as historians respect the integrity of their sources and adhere strictly to the principles of sound scholarship. Personal commitments do not distort, but instead they enrich, historical writing.”
Before she was thirteen years old, author, composer, and musicologist Judith Kaplan Eisenstein was already a significant figure in Jewish history. The eldest of four daughters born to Lena (Rubin) and Rabbi Mordecai Menachem Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, Judith Kaplan was the first young woman to celebrate a Lit. "daughter of the commandment." A girl who has reached legal-religious maturity and is now obligated to fulfill the commandmentsBat Mitzvah publicly in an American congregation on March 18, 1922.
Doris Bauman Gold was motivated by her long participation in Jewish organizational life to found Biblio Press, dedicated to educating Jewish women about their own history and accomplishments. Through Biblio Press, Gold has published more than twenty-seven general audience books that address and illuminate the culture, history, experiences, and spiritual yearnings of Jewish women.
“Golombism,” Rivke and Abraham Golomb’s ideology, came to the fore in Jewish education in Mexico with the founding of El Nuevo Colegio Israelita de Mexico I. L Peretz in 1950. The couple had many followers not only in Mexico but also in Europe, Israel and Canada. In 1946 they founded the Seminar le-Morim (Teachers’ Seminar) where they taught the first generations of teachers in Jewish education in Mexico. Rivke Golomb taught practical pedagogy and “geshikhte fun yidisher dertsiung” (History of Jewish Education).
When seven women concluded on February 14, 1912, “that the time is ripe for a large organization of women Zionists” and issued an invitation to interested friends “to attend a meeting for the purpose of discussing the feasibility of forming an organization” to promote Jewish institutions in Palestine and foster Jewish ideals, they scarcely anticipated that their resolve would lead to the creation of American Jews’ largest mass-membership organization. Yet Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, became not only the most popular American Jewish organization within a short span of years, maintaining that preeminence to this day, but also the most successful American women’s volunteer organization, enrolling more women and raising more funds than any other national women’s volunteer organization.
During the early waves of immigration to the United States, Sephardi and German Jews established full-time schools in large population centers. Rabbis, clergy and predominantly European-trained male teachers provided religious instruction in private-school settings, often sponsored by and housed in synagogues.
Not prepared to compromise her ideals by accepting work that did not meet her ideological approval, Gertrude Hirschler rejected the offer of a well-recognized publisher, who submitted a book by an Israeli leftist writer to her for translation. True to her principles, she removed her name from The Hirsch Siddur that she had translated, due to changes to the finished product that did not meet her standards. A brilliant perfectionist, Hirschler’s literary contributions as a translator, editor, and writer are highly regarded in the areas of Jewish history, accounts of the Holocaust, religious literature, and Zionism.
Holocaust studies is a dynamic and diverse field of research that embraces various approaches toward the study of the Holocaust. Jewish American women have made critical contributions to this field in a variety of areas, including general history, women and gender, children, literary criticism, autobiography and biography, curriculum development, religious studies, sociology, psychoanalytic theory, biomedical ethics, and archive and museum curatorship. Jewish American women have contributed original research and have reshaped the way the Holocaust is studied through innovative theoretical and methodological approaches. They come to the study of the Holocaust as Jews, as women, and as Americans. With each of these roles and experiences they bring different concerns and questions. Some of these scholars are survivors or refugees or are the daughters of survivors or refugees. Some were born in the United States, some came to the United States during or after the war. Many have focused exclusively on the study of women.
Scholarship, feminism, dedication, perseverance and integrity immediately come to mind when Paula Hyman’s name is mentioned. Those who know her well would add family and friendship to the list. Though she has ostensibly moved only from Boston, where she was born on September 30, 1946, to her present residence in New Haven, Connecticut, Hyman has traveled wide and far, spiritually, intellectually and physically. Hyman remains steadfast in her dedication to Jewish and humanitarian commitments and to her professional and personal concerns.
Jewish women play prominent roles as founders, directors, curators, artists, and patrons of Jewish museums in the United States. While women have rarely played an exclusive role in the creation of either small community or larger museums, their work as creators and developers of these repositories is critical.
Founded in 1995 on the premise that the history of Jewish women—celebrated and unheralded alike—must be considered systematically and creatively in order to produce a balanced and complete historical record, the Jewish Women's Archive took as its mission “to uncover, chronicle and transmit the rich legacy of Jewish women and their contributions to our families and communities, to our people and our world.”
“Man vergisst nichts, nichts” (One forgets nothing, nothing, Essenzen, 106), says Anna Maria Jokl in her book Essenzen (1993), when, in her seventies, she looks back at her life—a life that struggles against forgetting, a life shaped by persecution, exile and repeated new beginnings in different places.
Canada’s outstanding Orthodox feminist, Norma Joseph, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the second daughter of Moishe (Murray) Baumel (b. Austrian Poland, 1912, d. New York, 2002), a salesman who came to the United States as a child, and Madeline (Kohn, b. Hungary, 1917), a typist-secretary who came to the United States as an infant. Many members of Joseph’s family have engaged in religious occupations.
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. In 2005–06 women comprised 41% of the AJS membership. Within the past generation a field that was traditionally dominated by men has gradually witnessed the emergence of a significant number of women scholars.
The Eleanor Leff Jewish Women’s Resource Center (JWRC) of the National Council of Jewish Women, New York Section, maintains an extensive collection of materials by and about Jewish women and creates Jewish programming with a feminist focus. The JWRC was founded in 1976 to document and advance the modern Jewish women’s movement.
“Here rests a woman who was outstanding among her people and in her fatherland” is written on the gravestone of “Madame Kaulla” in the Hechingen Jewish cemetery. This refers to her charity as a wealthy and pious Jewish woman and to her significant achievements in serving the Grand Duke (later King) of Wuerttemberg and the imperial army (Reichsarmee). Chaile Raphael Kaulla was the most influential Jewish woman entrepreneur and one of the last Court Jews in eighteenth-century Germany.