Jewish History

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Pioneering women's history summer institute

July 18, 1979

In the summer of 1979, a fifteen-day conference (July 13-29), co-sponsored by Sarah Lawrence, the Women's Action Alliance and the Smithsonian Institution, was held at Sarah Lawrence College.

Barbara Tuchman delivers Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities

April 24, 1980

Barbara Tuchman, who was born in 1912, never earned a graduate degree in history, but her best-selling books made history come alive for

Paula Hyman discusses publication of "The Jewish Woman in America"

April 20, 1976

When Paula Hyman, Charlotte Baum, and Sonya Michel published The Jewish Woman in America in 1976, it was a groundbreaking work.

Historian Deborah Lipstadt is vindicated in libel suit brought by Holocaust denier

April 11, 2000

When Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt published Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory in 1994, she

Yugoslavia

The Jewish community of Yugoslavia was small, vibrant, and diverse, with waves of immigrants arriving from the 16th through the 19th centuries. Like many Jewish communities in Europe, the Yugoslav community was decimated by the Nazis, and only a few Jews remain in Yugoslavia today.

Barbara W. Tuchman

From a young age, Barbara W. Tuchman was engaged with contemporary international affairs. Her passion for research and engaging writing style won her two Pulitzer Prizes for her popular histories The Guns of August and Stilwell and the American Experience in China.

Selma Stern-Taeubler

Originally a historian and researcher in Heidelberg and Berlin, Selma Stern-Taeubler settled at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinatti after fleeing Nazi Germany. She became the first archivist of the American Jewish Archives at the college and later wrote books of fiction and nonfiction. Despite her contributions to Jewish history, American-Jewish academe has largely undervalued Stern-Taeubler’s work, which continued until her death in 1981.

Medieval Spain

Written histories of Jews in medieval Spain rarely include women, so one must seek alternate sources. Marital status was the frequent topic of rabbinic responsa. Some Jewish women made their own income as merchants and moneylenders. Inheritance laws were problematic for Jewish women – disputes were settled in both Jewish and non-Jewish courts.

Emily Solis-Cohen

Emily Solis-Cohen was a prominent poet, historian, and philanthropist. As a community leader, she conducted American Jewish historical research and used this knowledge to publish both poetic and nonfiction works that celebrated the lives of Jewish Americans, and especially Jewish women.

Barbara Miller Solomon

Barbara Miller Solomon was not only an educator but a pioneer in the field of women's history. Named the first female dean of Harvard College in 1970, she laid the groundwork for the formal establishment women’s studies there. Her scholarship on the history of immigration and women's history remains influential today.

Mexico

The communal culture developed by Mexican Jewry emphasized unity, harmony, and consensus regarding groups, politics, and gender. Mexican-Jewish women participated widely in and contributed to the vibrant community’s cultural, artistic, social, and educational endeavors. They continue to redefine their role in Jewish community spaces amidst the new organizations, profiles, and activities of the twenty-first century.

Paula E. Hyman

Distinguished historian Paula Hyman was engaged deeply in Jewish feminism and wrote extensively on the history of Jewish women in an effort to integrate their experience into the Jewish historical narrative. A role model for many, she challenged sacrosanct beliefs and stereotypes with vigor and knowledge and left behind a myriad of scholarly contributions and a profound vision for Jewish women.

Leni Yahil

Leni Yahil was a German-born Israeli scholar and pioneer of Holocaust research in the decades following the Second World War. Working closely with Yad Vashem, she was among the first to emphasize Jewish primary sources, explore the importance of Jewish resistance, and document the Jewish experience in Northern Europe during the Holocaust.

Annette Wieviorka

Annette Wieviorka (b. 1948) is a major French historian of the Holocaust. Her work highlights the specificity of the Shoah in the context of Nazi and Vichy crime generally.

Post-Biblical and Rabbinic Women

IIn antiquity, the treatment of women drew from patriarchal biblical traditions. Despite a few notable exceptions, women had minimal legal rights but were active participants in alternative Jewish sects and could hold office. As rabbinic material was codified, control over women increased, although the literature was not exclusively restrictive towards women.

Poverty: Jewish Women in Medieval Egypt

The documents recovered from the Cairo Genizah give insight into the lives of Jewish women in poverty in medieval Egypt. Without husbands, women were often left without any means of earning a living, though the Jewish community assumed responsibility for providing for widows.

Poland: Interwar

A minority habitually ignored by scholars, Polish-Jewish women played important roles in the changing cultural and political framework of the interwar years.

Poland: Early Modern (1500-1795)

Polish Jewish Women played a complex role in their society and culture during the early Modern Period. This role was usually gender segregated, but upon a closer look, was more gender flexible than one might think.

Rivkah Perelis

Rivkah Perelis was a Polish-born historian whose research focused on the Holocaust and the Zionist youth movement during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

Deborah Dash Moore

Deborah Dash Moore is a leading scholar of American Jewish history. Her influential work has focused on both urban and visual Jewish history in locales from New York to Miami to Los Angeles. A prolific interpreter of Jewish and American culture, Moore has played a key role in making American Jewish history a recognized subfield in the academy.

Hélène Metzger

Hélène Metzger was a French historian of chemistry and a philosopher of science, whose work remains influential today. Her independence and drive brought her great recognition, despite the lack of credibility given to her as a woman.

Mariamme I The Hasmonean

Mariamme, granddaughter of the last Hasmonean rulers, was the wife of King Herod of the new dynasty. After bearing him five children, she was executed by the king in 27 B.C.E.

Kurdish Women

Jews lived in Kurdistan for 2,800 years, until a mass migration to Israel in the 1950s. This Jewish community’s ancient roots and relative seclusion in the Kurdistan region fostered unique religious, cultural, and linguistic characteristics. Despite assimilation and the loss of traditional practices, the community remained tight-knit.

Judaic Studies in the United States

Women in the field of Jewish studies have explored a wide range of subjects from many disciplinary perspectives. Although those scholars are clustered in modern Jewish history, literature, and the social sciences, for the first time in Jewish history the study of Jewish texts and culture is no longer virtually a male preserve.

Jewish Women's Archive

Founded in 1995 on the premise that the history of Jewish women 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.”

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