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Assimilation

Stereotypes in the United States

The process of projecting ideas and fantasies is called stereotyping. Scholars have repeatedly demonstrated that stereotypes, in fact, have more to teach about the “stereotyper” than the “stereotyped.” In relations between minorities and majorities, particularly when a dominant group suppresses and limits another, those stereotypes play a crucial role in rationalizing the rights of the powerful over the powerless and in justifying why a group is despised.

Sarah Schenirer

As the founder of the Bais Ya’akov educational movement, Sarah Schenirer brought about a revolution in the status of women in Orthodox Judaism.

Salonika: Female Education at the end of the Nineteenth Century

The particular nature of Salonika Jewish society, exposed as it was to the progressive ideas of female education held by its Greek neighbors, was closely linked to local conditions. If there was still a place where it is certain that Jews did not suffer for their Jewish identity, it was undoubtedly Salonika. On the other hand the ease with which Salonikan Jewish society accepted and encouraged a new model of womanhood can only be explained by its compatibility with the local, traditional model.

Muriel Rukeyser

During her life, Muriel Rukeyser was often the center of controversy. Critics either loved or hated her; there was seemingly no middle ground. Her poetry sought to embody, with striking verbal and thematic juxtapositions, the unity she believed underlies a world seemingly disconnected.

Anne Roiphe

Novelist, journalist, and essayist Anne Roiphe was a respected contributor to the world of letters before moving away from assimilation toward an exploration of Jews and Jewish subjects.

Julia Richman

Learning the language of America came first, but Julia Richman wanted the schools to do much more. On her list were the establishment of kindergartens; cheap, nutritious lunches; playgrounds; health examinations; instruction in domestic science for girls and manual training for boys. She was not alone in advocating these initiatives, but when she was elevated to district superintendent of the Lower East Side schools in 1903, she was in a better position than most to put them into effect.

Gertrude Himmelfarb

Gertrude Himmelfarb has dedicated her long and noted career as a historian of ideas to the study of nineteenth-century Britain, an intellectual commitment that has been guided by a profound identification with the moral atmosphere of the Victorian era. Since earning her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1950, Himmelfarb has maintained that the Victorian experience offers unique insights and lessons, immediate and even imperative, for the problems that haunt the modern world. In the 1950s, it was the specter of totalitarianism; in the 1990s, the plight of American inner cities.

Elizabeth Stern

Elizabeth Stern achieved success within a number of realms and balanced a number of competing roles: fiction writer, journalist, social worker, wife, mother, and an American woman leading a secular life who examined the importance of cultural heritage.

Dorothea Mendelssohn Schlegel

Dorothea Schlegel was an industrious author, editor, translator, and reviewer. But because she never signed her writings with her own name, she gained little recognition during her lifetime. This intelligent and spirited woman entered the world as the eldest daughter of the pride of the European Haskalah, Moses Mendelssohn.

Poland: Interwar

Like every other historical analysis of interwar Polish Jewry, the story of Jewish women is a story interrupted tragically by the destruction of Polish Jewry in the Holocaust. Many of the trends discussed above had just begun to make their mark on the nature of that three million strong community. Nevertheless, they are still deserving of scholarly attention. Unless and until the missing fifty-two percent of Polish Jews are factored into the historical narrative, that story will remain incomplete.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Assimilation." (Viewed on December 18, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/assimilation>.

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