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Assimilation

Louise Dresser

Louise Dresser was a celebrated singer in vaudeville and musical comedy, as well as a star in early motion pictures. She adopted the stage name of Louise Dresser after the songwriter Paul Dresser, an acquaintance of her father, encouraged her to use his name as a strategy for her to gain greater recognition on stage. This ruse, along with several of Paul Dresser’s famous songs, indeed improved Dresser’s drawing power in vaudeville, and she was often believed to be the sister both of Paul Dresser and novelist Theodore Dreiser (Paul Dresser’s brother). Known largely for her rendition of Paul Dresser’s song “My Gal Sal,” she also sang his “On the Banks of the Wabash.”

Cuba

The history of Jewish women in Colonial Cuba is still wrapped in mystery. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia (1903): “Jewish women, forcibly baptized, and sent to the West Indies by the Spanish authorities, seem to have been among the early settlers [of Cuba].” The term “Jewish women” in this context needs explanation: In 1492, King Ferdinand (1452–1516) and Queen Isabella (1451–1504) of Spain signed the infamous edict that ordered the expulsion of all professed Jews from their kingdoms.

Cookbooks in the United States

When you are searching for instructions on how to prepare the perfect pickled tongue, for hints on setting a festive [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:395]Shabbat[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] table, or a refresher course in the laws and lore of [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:377]Passover[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], American Jewish cookbooks are an invaluable source of information on Jewish life. The first publicly available American Jewish cookbook was published in 1871. Esther Levy’s Jewish Cookery Book on Principles of Economy Adapted for Jewish Housekeepers with Medicinal Recipes and Other Valuable Information Relative to Housekeeping and Domestic Management was an attempt to touch on most aspects of Jewish home life. While few of the hundreds of Jewish cookbooks written since attempt the breadth of this first work, American Jewish cookbooks capture the range of Jewish religious and cultural expression.

Claribel Cone

Immortalized in drawings by French modernists Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse and in Gertrude Stein’s essay “Two Women,” Dr. Claribel Cone was well known in her day as a charming, dignified, well-informed, self-assured, idiosyncratic, and highly independent woman with two passions, medical research and collecting art and artifacts.

Club Movement in the United States

Jewish clubwomen emerged in America between 1880 and 1920 as part of a comprehensive social transition. Jews—women as well as men—evolved from a series of scattered ethnic enclaves primarily of German origin into a more cohesive and politically active portion of a decidedly American middle class.

Clara De Hirsch Home for Working Girls

Concerned about the welfare of young working girls in New York City at the turn of the twentieth century, a group of Jewish leaders, mostly women, founded the Clara de Hirsch Home for Working Girls in May 1897.

Anita Brookner

Anita Brookner achieved fame and recognition as one of the most accomplished writers of English fiction.

Julienne Bloch

Julienne Bloch devoted her life to strengthening the commitment of French Jews both to Judaism as a religion and to their fellow Jews at home and abroad. As a journalist and an educator, she fought against the increasingly widespread assimilation, acculturation and secularization of the period following the emancipation of French Jews, and her writings paint a vivid picture of the tensions within the mid-nineteenth-century Franco-Jewish community. As one of the earliest published Jewish women writers in France she also contributed significantly to the creation of a public sphere for French Jewish women.

Berlin Salons: Late Eighteenth to Early Twentieth Century

The Berlin salons which developed in the late eighteenth century owed both their existence and the form of their development to Jewish women. These early salons were the result of a unique interrelation between the German enlightenment and [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:325]Haskalah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] on the one hand and, on the other, young, educated Jewish women from well-to-do families, who were searching for a new role in life outside the patriarchal structures of their families. These salons have variously been criticized as a symptom of failing Jewish tradition or welcomed as a phenomenon of emancipation and acculturation.

Hinde Bergner

Though not a published writer in her time, Hinde Bergner holds a special place in Yiddish literature by virtue of the fact that her memoir of family life in a late nineteenth century Galician [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:404]shtetl[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] is one of few extant Yiddish memoirs to describe the traditional Jewish family on the edge of modernity told from the perspective of a woman. Her intimate portrayal of matchmaking and marriage customs, the education of girls, Jewish occupations, information about period clothing and home furnishing, the spiritual life of Jewish women, generational tensions, and cross-cultural contacts results in a valuable document of Jewish social, family, and women’s history.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Assimilation." (Viewed on December 12, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/assimilation>.

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