By Melissa R. Klapper

Jewish women Coming of Age in the United States, 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 reviews mirrored better concerns when it comes to gender, ethnicity, faith, and education.

Klapper explores the twin roles women performed as brokers of acculturation and guardians of culture. Their look for an id as American women that will no longer 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 women, no longer 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 countless numbers of alternative ladies whose later lives and reports were misplaced to history.

Told in a fascinating type and choked with colourful costs, the ebook brings to existence a ignored staff of interesting old figures in the course of a pivotal second within the improvement of gender roles, formative years, and the trendy American Jewish community.

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Extra info for Jewish Girls Coming of Age in America, 1860-1920

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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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