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Nora Levin

Nora Levin

While her books sparked controversy among historians, Nora Levin helped shape popular understanding of modern Jewish history.

Nora Levin

In the introduction to her 1977 book While Messiah Tarried, a history of Jewish socialist movements, Nora Levin wrote that she hoped “young Jews groping for ways to reconcile their own social radicalism with Jewishness ... will be heartened in their quest by the knowledge that there have been several generations of other young Jews who have made a similar struggle.”

Holocaust Studies in the United States

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.

Historians in the United States

American Jewish women have been prominent within the historical profession. Indeed, many have been on the cutting edge of historical scholarship since the 1960s. In particular, Jewish women were at the forefront of developments within social history and in the creation of women’s history. While women generally, and Jewish women in particular, rarely made careers as historians in the first half of the twentieth century, Jewish women represented a significant proportion of academic historians both in American and European history as discrimination against Jews and prejudice against women lessened in the decades after World War II. Perhaps because of their sensitivity to the situation of powerless groups, most of them focused their attention not on traditional power elites but rather on those social groups traditionally ignored by academic historians: ordinary people, workers, peasants, minority groups, Jews, and especially women. They helped create, and were influenced by, new trends in historical scholarship that favored the study of such groups.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Nora Levin." (Viewed on December 15, 2017) <https://jwa.org/taxonomy/term/11619>.

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