Jewish Girls Coming of Age in America, 1860-1920 by Melissa R. Klapper

By Melissa R. Klapper

Jewish women Coming of Age in the US, 1860—1920 attracts on a wealth of archival fabric, a lot of which hasn't ever been published—or even read—to remove darkness from the ways that Jewish women’ adolescent stories mirrored better concerns on the subject of gender, ethnicity, faith, and education.

Klapper explores the twin roles ladies performed as brokers of acculturation and guardians of culture. Their look for an id as American women that may now not require the abandonment of Jewish culture and tradition reflected the fight in their households and groups for integration into American society.

While targeting their lives as ladies, now not the adults they might later develop into, Klapper attracts at the papers of such figures as Henrietta Szold, founding father of Hadassah; Edna Ferber, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of Showboat; and Marie Syrkin, literary critic and Zionist. Klapper additionally analyzes the diaries, memoirs, and letters of hundreds and hundreds of different women whose later lives and reports were misplaced to history.

Told in a fascinating sort and packed with colourful fees, the booklet brings to lifestyles a overlooked team of interesting historic figures in the course of a pivotal second within the improvement of gender roles, early life, and the fashionable American Jewish community.

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After visiting a cemetery in September, probably to visit the graves of her relatives before the High Holidays, she reflected on the relationship between God and individuals. ” She under- “Any Other Girls . . 16 Judaism provided Jennie with a social context as well as a religious framework. Though she certainly spent time with many non-Jewish peers at school, her social life as seen through her diary was primarily within the Jewish community. The Hebrew Literary Society provided one such social forum, and the list of entertainments, picnics, and parties at the back of the 1890 diary is dominated by Jewish names.

By 1860 and certainly by 1880, some of these Jewish families had already lived in the United States for two generations or more. After 1880, increasing violence and persecution pushed burgeoning numbers of eastern European Jews into emigration. The daughters of these families, some of whom had themselves immigrated, were apt to be less secure in their places in America. The basic historical narrative does support this interpretation to some extent. However, it is no longer historiographically acceptable to divide “German” and “Russian” (serious misnomers) Jewish experiences in America in quite this way.

The benefits of maintaining a traditional focus ultimately exerted the strongest pull in most cases. There were limits on how extraordinary even the most resistant Jewish girls wanted to be. ”38 Conventions of tradition shaped the boundaries of her ambitions. The possible ramifications of conspicuous difference also affected girls’ desires to be extraordinary. During the 1870s, Maud Nathan found that her family culture and religious observance made her different enough without adding the extra factor of personal ambition.

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