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Jewish Women's History from Antiquity to the Present

edited by Rebecca Lynn Winer and Federica Francesconi

Award Winner

Jewish Studies, Women's Studies, Gender

Published: November 2021
ISBN: 9780814346310
Pages: 156 Size: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 10 b&w illus.
Published: November 2021
ISBN: 9780814346303
Pages: 156 Size: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 10 b&w illus.
Published: November 2021
ISBN: 9780814346327
Pages: 156 Size: EPUB
Illustrations: 10 b&w illus.

Jewish Women’s History from Antiquity to the Present is broad in geographical scope exploring Jewish women’s lives in what is now Eastern and Western Europe, Britain, Israel, Turkey, North Africa, and North America. Editors Federica Francesconi and Rebecca Lynn Winer focus the volume on reconstructing the experiences of ordinary women and situating those of the extraordinary and famous within the gender systems of their times and places.

The twenty-one contributors analyze the history of Jewish women in the light of gender as religious, cultural, and social construct. They apply new methodologies in approaching rabbinic sources, prescriptive literature, and musar (ethics), interrogating them about female roles in the biblical and rabbinic imaginations, and in relation to women’s restrictions and quotidian actions on the ground. They explore Jewish’s women experiences of persecution, displacement, immigration, integration, and social mobility from the medieval age through the nineteenth century. And for the modern era, this volume assesses women’s spiritual developments; how they experienced changes in religious and political societies, both Jewish and non-Jewish; the history of women in the Holocaust, their struggle through persecution and deportation; women’s everyday concerns, Jewish lesbian activism, and the spiritual sphere in the contemporary era. Contributors reinterpret rabbinical responsa through new lenses and study a plethora of unpublished and previously unknown archival sources, such as community ordinances and court records, alongside autobiographies, letters, poetry, narrative prose, devotional objects, the built environment, illuminated manuscripts, and early printed books.

This publication is significant within the field of Jewish studies and beyond; the essays include comparative material and have the potential to reach scholarly audiences in many related fields but are also written to be accessible to all, with the introductions in every chapter aimed at orienting the enthusiast from outside academia to each time and place.

Federica Francesconi is assistant professor of history at the University at Albany, State University of New York, where she also directs the program in Judaic Studies.Rebecca Lynn Winer is associate professor of history at Villanova University.

Contributors Include:
Rachel Adelman, Natalia Aleksiun, Dianne Ashton, Benjamin M. Baader, Judith R. Baskin, Marla Brettschneider, Elisheva Carlebach, Dina Danon, Sylvia Barack Fishman, Federica Francesconi, ChaeRan Freeze, Tal Ilan, Debra Kaplan, Melissa R R. Klapper, Sharon Koren, Frances Malino, Renee Levine Melammed, Lilach Rosenberg-Friedman, Moshe Rosman, Nadia Valman, Rebecca Lynn Winer

Inspired by historian Judith Baskin to uncover ‘evocative expressions of Jewish women’s lives,’ the authors in this collection present an exciting variety of research from the Hebrew Bible to women’s lives today and over a wide variety of regions and cultures. This rich, imaginative, and interdisciplinary collection will be a go-to book for lay readers, students, and scholars.

– Marion Kaplan, Skirball Professor of Modern Jewish History, New York University

With a nuanced interdisciplinary and global approach to the study of Jewish gender, this volume offers some of the newest and most innovative work on the lives and experiences of Jewish women across the centuries. It promises to become a classic for anyone teaching and learning about gender and Jewish history.

– Elissa Bemporad, Jerry and William Ungar Chair in East European Jewish History and the Holocaust and professor of History, Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center

Since the publication of Jewish Women in Historical Perspective over twenty years ago, this volume of collected essays has been one of the most useful resources for the history of Jewish women. Jewish Women’s History from Antiquity to the Present, showcasing the work of a new generation of scholars, is sure to continue this tradition.

– Elisheva Baumgarten, Yitzchak Becker Professor of Jewish Studies in the Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry Department, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

In chronological order, each essay addresses Jewish women at the next period and in another geographic area. Together, the essays provide new insights into the lives of Jewish women throughout history. The essays form not a complete history of Jewish women but highlights from nearly all periods of that history. ...Anyone with an interest in Jewish history, gender studies or, indeed, the history of any place where Jews have lived, will find much of value in Jewish Women’s History from Antiquity to the Present.

– Louis Finkelman, The Detroit Jewish News

With the useful inclusion of a complete listing of the contributors and their credentials, "Jewish Women's History from Antiquity to the Present" is impressively informative, exceptionally well organized, and a highly recommended core addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Jewish History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

– Mary Cowper, Midwest Book Review

  • 2021 National Jewish Book Awards - Result: Finalist in the category of Women’s Studies -- Barbara Dobkin Award