By Jack Miles

What kind of "person" is God? Is it attainable to strategy him now not as an item of non secular reverence, yet because the protagonist of the world's maximum book--as a personality who possesses all of the depths, contradictions, and abiguities of a Hamlet? during this "brilliant, audacious book" (Chicago Tribune), a former Jesuit marshalls an unlimited array of studying and data of the Hebrew Bible to light up God--and man--with a feeling of discovery and beauty.

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Yet unlike American Jewry as a whole, which rarely retreated from acculturation, Jewish girls who moved through the charged period of adolescence often gravitated toward tradition, even as modernization continued apace around them. Young, Jewish, and Female in America During the period between 1860 and 1920, adolescence and modernization emerged as parallel phenomena in American society and culture. Both involved the process of individuation, of pulling away from a broadly defined communal orientation, and both identified with the future rather than the past.

Despite the obvious problems these tensions could have caused Jewish girls, the majority of them apparently remained oblivious to the stresses of their situation. Adolescence might have been in crisis at the turn of the century, but few American Jewish girls seemed to be in anything remotely resembling crisis. While some had educational or social or religious difficulties of one sort or another, their diaries, memoirs, and personal papers reveal a remarkable absence of conflict in their lives. This absence is the more remarkable because it existed in both the direction of tradition and the direction of modernity.

Girls, we cannot all be wives; the supply is greater than the demand,” wrote Richman, herself an unmarried professional woman. 11 What, then, to do in this changing environment? According to the thoughtful prescriptions freely dispensed in the symposium, American Jewish girls stood at the threshold of a modernizing world. Their decisions about which opportunities to embrace or reject, which traditions to affirm or deny, which points of their triangulated identity to emphasize or ignore, would not only affect their own individual lives but also their families and communities.

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