Jewish History

Content type
Collection
Samovar

My Samovar: A Connection to Soviet Jewry

Beth Dwoskin

A family samovar passed down through the generations is a connection to a Russian Jewish past.

Topics: Food, Jewish History
The Berber Bride in the Salon, by Esther Benmaman, 2002

Rethinking the Canon: Today's Moroccan Jewish Women Painters

Tamara Kohn

Who belongs in the canon? And who gets to tell the stories of Moroccan Jews?

Topics: Art, Jewish History
Encyclopedia Revision Collage

Celebrating JWA's Encyclopedia Revision and Expansion

Harriet Feinberg

In celebration of JWA's Encyclopedia expansion, scholar Harriet Feinberg shares a poem she wrote years ago about the resource.

Topics: Jewish History

Joan Nathan

Award-winning journalist and cookbook author Joan Nathan is a transformative figure in documenting and exploring the evolving Jewish experience both in America and around the globe through the powerful lens of food. A long-standing contributing writer to The New York Times and Tablet Magazine, Nathan is the author of eleven books, as well as hundreds of articles, podcasts, interviews, and public presentations about Jewish, global, and American foodways. 

Images of Jewish Women in Medieval European Literature

Medieval European representations of Jewish women by Christian authors reveal anxieties about Jews and their imagined intentions. Some of these writings portray young Jewish women as easily seduced by Christian men and Christian teachings; others depict a beautiful but malevolent Jewish woman who leads a Christian boy to his ritual death. Another motif, supposed sexual liaisons between a ruler and a Jewish woman, expresses Christian perceptions of Jewish threats to the Christian state.

Sephardi Women in the Dutch Republic

In the early modern period, Dutch Sephardim formed a community famous for its wealth, grandeur, and benevolence.

The article highlights the social, economic and religious position of Sephardi women in the Dutch Republic, arriving as immigrants from persecutions by the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions and their offspring, settled in generations afterwards. Their adjustment to normative Judaism is being discussed as well as their professional education and their contributions to Sephardi and Dutch society.     

Esther Brandeau

Esther Brandeau was born in southwestern France around 1718, descended from exiles of the Inquisition in Iberia. Brandeau passed as Christian and male across France for five years before setting sail as Jacques La Fargue. Doubly outed at or en route to Québec, Brandeau | La Fargue was ultimately deported from New France, purportedly for refusing to convert to Christianity.

Yiddish Duolingo graphic

What Does Duolingo Mean for Yiddish?

Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler

Yiddish is finally on Duolingo. What does that mean for the language?

Topics: Jewish History

Episode 63: JIMENA: Mizrahi and Sephardi Voices

The 20th century brought major disruptions to Jewish communities all over the world. In the Middle East and North Africa, over one million Jews fled places where Jewish communities had existed for over 2,000 years. The organization JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) works to preserve the cultural memory and heritage of Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews. In this episode, producer Asal Ehsanipour and JIMENA's Executive Director Sarah Levin share highlights from some of the oral stories preserved in JIMENA's archive and talk about their own family histories.

Two Judahite Figurines from the Eighth Century BCE

From the Archive: Judahite Pillar Figurines

Dory Fox
Alison L. Joseph

The Posen Library shares two eighth century Judahite pillar figurines from their archive.

Topics: Jewish History

Episode 62: The Mystery of Esther Brandeau

In 1738, a young Christian man stepped off a boat in the French colony of Quebec and was doubly outed as a Jew and a woman. Esther Brandeau was born around 1718 in Saint Esprit, a Jewish community on the outskirts of Bayonne, France. Brandeau was the first documented Jew to have set foot on Canadian soil, but she didn’t stay long. Historian and performing artist Heather Hermant tells the story for Can We Talk? and for JWA's revised and updated edition of the Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women.

Riv-Ellen Prell

Anthropologist Riv-Ellen Prell initiated ethnographic study of ordinary American Jews that paid attention to religion, gender, ritual, and cultural performance. Her work addresses the primacy of gender in twentieth-century Jewish life and looks at economic and power relations often expressed through negative stereotypes of Jewish women.

White Puzzle Pieces on Blue Background

A 1,000-Piece Puzzle: My Jewish Ancestral History

Judy Goldstein

My ancestral history is like a 1,000-piece puzzle with half of the puzzle pieces missing.

Page from "Mir Forn" by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

From the Archive: A Page from Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman’s Book "Mir Forn"

Carole Renard

The Yiddish Book Center shares a page from Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman's children's book Mir Forn ("We're Off") from their archive.

Title page of the Register of a Jewish Midwife by Roza, 1700s

From the Archive: Register of a Jewish Midwife

Deborah Dash Moore
Dory Fox

The Posen Library shares an eighteenth century midwife's register of births from their archive.

Frances Rosenthal Kallison

Frances Elaine Rosenthal Kallison was a horsewoman and historian, a cofounder of the Texas Jewish Historical Society, and the only Jewish woman in the National Museum and Cowgirl Hall of Fame.  A regional leader of the National Council of Jewish Women, she lobbied to end the poll tax and open pre-natal clinics for the poor. The exhibit she curated on Texas Jewry for the 1968 World’s Fair in San Antonio has been continually updated.

Audrey Flack

The only female member of the founding group of photorealists, New York-born painter and sculptor Audrey Flack is especially recognized for the feminine content in her art. Her feminist sensibilities manifest in both her pioneering paintings, which often consider stereotypes of womanhood, and her sculptures, frequently depicting goddesses and other strong female figures. Flack’s work appears in prominent collections around the world.

Women at Masada

In the first century BCE, King Herod the Great built a fortified palace atop the mountain of Masada overlooking the Dead Sea. Seventy years after Herod’s death, during the First Jewish Revolt against Rome, Masada was occupied by bands of Jewish rebels, including families. This entry surveys the literary and archaeological evidence of women among the rebels at Masada.

Ministering Women and Their Mirrors

Women who ministered at the entrance of the Tabernacle gathered around to donate their copper mirrors (Exodus 38:8), which were then smelted down to make the basin where the priests would wash before entering the sanctuary. The women may have served as guards, warding off evil with their mirrors. Midrash, however, conjectures that the women used these mirrors to seduce their husbands in Egypt, raising up the hosts of Israelites.

Leslie Feinberg

Leslie Feinberg and the Power of Queer Jewish Memory

Avivit Ashman

After reading Stone Butch Blues, I feel like I finally have a history and a sense of memory as a queer Jew.

Monica Unikel

Mónica Unikel-Fasja is a chronicler of Jewish immigrant stories. She created a dozen guided walking tours in Mexico City and revitalized the oldest Ashkenazi synagogue as a bastion of Jewish culture, designating it a treasure trove of history fully accessible to the general public.

Lilith Magazine Fall 1987 (crop)

Jewish Feminist Texts Help Me Get through the Pandemic

Molly Fraser

I will continue to access Jewish feminist texts for wisdom and fortitude when I need them.

Photo of Mollie Steimer with Lined Background

Mollie Steimer: Finding a Radical Approach to the American Criminal Justice System

Liana Smolover-Bord

Mollie Steimer dedicated her life to advocating for prisoners. Though we’ll likely never fully live up to her anarchist ideals, we can fight for radical solutions.

Belinda Brock's parents crop

The Language of the High Holidays

Belinda Brock

Rosh Hashanah connects us to each other and to our roots—even virtually.

Episode 45: Shofar in the Desert

No sound is more iconic for the Jewish New Year than that of the shofar blast. This year, many Jews will hear the sound of the shofar virtually. Can We Talk? producer Sarah Ventre is one of hundreds of shofar blowers who will share their shofar blasts with their congregations over Zoom. In this special Rosh Hashanah mini-sode, Sarah ventures into the urban desert in Phoenix, Arizona to practice blowing her shofar. She shares her thoughts on what the shofar blast means to her this year, during the global pandemic.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox