Page 112 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
their stories. One woman was a watchmaker who bu ilt a sub­
stantial business. Another was married at the age of 14, only to
be betrayed by her doctor-husband who left her for a nurse
shortly after their arrival in America. One is impressed most of
all by the fortitude of each woman to adapt to a new and rapidly
changing society, to the Depression years, to personal and family
crises.
T he interview content focuses more on the human dimension
than on specifically Jewish ones. Still, each woman represents
in microcosm an aspect of the many different trends of Ameri­
can Jewry: the gradual erosion of the traditional lifestyle and
the feeling tha t Jewish particularity—and especially its overt
expression—was inappropriate and inadequate to the New
World on the one hand; and, by contrast, the maintenance of
certain resilient forms of Jewishness, the strength of Jewish
community and family ties, and the re tu rn to trad ition with
advancing years.
Of a different genre altogether is a recent work by Rabbi
Sally Preisand, the first Jewish woman to be ordained by
a theological seminary.
Juda ism an d the N ew W om an
(New
York: Behrman, 1975) attempts to deal with a great variety of
subjects: the Jewish woman in biblical and rabbinic law and
literature, in the period of early Reform, and as pioneers in
the rebuilding of Israel; women in ritua l today—in the syna­
gogue and in Jewish rites-of-passage, in organizational life, in
literary stereotyping; exemplary Jewish women such as H annah
Senesh and Golda Meir and finally, Jewish women as they ought
to be (with full and equal rights in Judaism for today and
tomorrow). As this is a slender volume—130 small pocket-size
pages of actual text—it is ra ther difficult, even impossible, for it
to present an in-depth analysis of any particular subject. Thus
the book best serves as an introductory work geared to high
school students or to those readers who are Jewishly uneducated.
Ironically, the most scholarly book on women in Jewish trad i­
tion has been written by a male Christian.
W om en in Juda ism :
T h e S ta tus of W om en in F o rm a tive Juda ism
by Leonard Swidler
(Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1976) describes the role and
the social-legal status of women as defined in the rabbinic litera­
ture of the period spanning the second century B.C.E. to the