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Family: Motherhood

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Gila Almagor

Gila Almagor

She has appeared in approximately forty Israeli feature films, dozens of stage plays and television dramas. Her starring roles in films include Siege, 1969; Highway Queen, 1971; House on Chelouche Street, 1973; My Mother the General, 1979; Summer of Aviya, 1988; Life According to Agfa, 1992; Sh’chur, 1994; and Passover Fever, 1995.

Artists: "Second Generation" in Israel

A number of studies from the mid-1980s onward have demonstrated the impact of the Holocaust on visual art, in particular for artists who themselves experienced the agony of the Holocaust, but also among their contemporaries. These artists portrayed the Holocaust’s atrocities and responded to the horrific trauma through various forms of expression. Now, more than sixty years after the Holocaust, it is apparent that its impact has carried over into the works of so-called “second generation” artists as well.

Artists: Contemporary Anglo

By focusing on Jewish women artists working in Britain today, whose Jewishness and gender are central to their artistic output, it offered valuable insights into the diverse ways in which women perceive their Jewishness in contemporary Britain. Aware of their complex “otherness” as women, Jews and artists, they put that awareness to good creative use; and in so doing, proved that art has a crucial role to play in exploring—and perhaps crystallizing—issues of identity.

The Orthodox Congregation B'nai David Sisterhood of Detroit, Michigan, circa 1950

Assimilation in the United States: Twentieth Century

Jewish women began to assimilate into American society and culture as soon as they stepped off the boat. Some started even earlier, with reports and dreams of the goldene medine, the golden land of liberty and opportunity. Very few resisted adapting to the language and mores of the United States; those who did often returned to Europe. Well over ninety percent stayed, even those who cursed Columbus’s voyage and subsequent European settlement in North America.

Devorah Baron

Devorah Baron, who is considered to be the first female to write in Modern Hebrew, was born on December 4, 1887, in the small town of Uzda (50 km SSW of Minsk), where her father served as a rabbi. While a number of women had overcome the odds and written in Hebrew before her, Devorah Baron was the first woman to make a career for herself as a Hebrew writer.

Sadi Muriel Baron

Like many mothers of celebrities, Sadi Muriel Baron might be considered famous because of her child, rather than because of her own personal accomplishments. Baron was the mother of Dr. Richard Raskind, who became one of the most famous American male-to-female transgender personalities when he was transformed into Dr. Renée Richards in 1976. However, Baron was herself a success story. Baron was a pioneering neurologist and psychiatrist who maintained her own private practice well into the 1950s.

Bathsheba: Bible

Bathsheba, the wife of David (reigned c. 1005–965 b.c.e.) and the mother of Solomon (reigned c. 968–928 b.c.e.), is featured in each of these roles in one major narrative sequence in the David stories, and she is characterized quite differently in each.

Bathsheba: Midrash and Aggadah

Bathsheba is portrayed by the midrash as a modest woman who carefully observed the laws of family purity, but who found herself, without any conscious action on her part, in an adulterous affair with the king.

Gertrude Berg in "Molly" as "Molly Goldberg"

Gertrude Berg

For a generation of Americans, Gertrude Berg embodied Jewish motherhood in a series of radio, television, stage, and film performances. She is best remembered as the creative force behind the Goldbergs, a fictitious Jewish family who lived in an apartment at 1038 East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx. In addition to her matriarchal public persona, Berg was also a one of the first American women to work as a writer and producer of radio and television situation comedy.

Deborah 1: Midrash and Aggadah

Rebekah’s nurse Deborah died when Jacob was on his way to the Land of Canaan, close to Bethel. She is mentioned by name only once in the Torah she-bi-khetav: Lit. "the written Torah." The Bible; the Pentateuch; Tanakh (the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographia)Torah, in Gen. 35:8, in the description of her burial under an oak tree that was named “Allon-bacuth [the oak of the weeping].” Deborah is also mentioned, anonymously, in Gen. 24:59, when she accompanied Rebekah on the latter’s journey to the Land of Canaan to wed Isaac: “So they sent off their sister Rebekah and her nurse,” as was fitting for a wealthy and distinguished family that retained a nurse.

Helene Deutsch

Helene Deutsch

In 1923, Helene Deutsch became the first psychoanalyst to write a book about female psychology, called Psychoanalysis of the Sexual Functions of Women in English. Her interest in the subject, along with that of Karen Horney, helped to push her mentor Sigmund Freud, who did not like being left behind, into writing articles about female psychology. When Deutsch was completing her manuscript, she wrote to her husband, Felix, “It brings something new to this terra incognita in analysis—I believe, the first ray of light on the unappreciated female libido.” For her to draw attention to the female libido in that era was implicitly to amend Freud’s own outlook. At the same time, Deutsch was pioneering the importance of motherhood. Other psychoanalysts of the period, such as Otto Rank, Sandor Ferenczi, and Georg Groddeck, were also intrigued by the neglected role of mothering, but Deutsch was the one to insist on its special significance for female psychology. Although she always remained loyal to Freud’s conceptual framework, her writings were an outgrowth of her own personal experiences and insight.

Die Deborah

As the most important German Jewish newspaper in America, Die Deborah propagated a program of German identity, of bourgeois culture, and of Jewish Reform in which women were assigned a strategic place. The paper published essays on Jewish religion, culture, and history, and debates on education. Literature, mostly ghetto novels, was given a privileged place. While Die Deborah reported on Jewish issues from all over the world, it focused on news from Germany, and it gave special attention to the cultural life of the German immigrant community in America.

Edna: Apocrypha

In the Book of Tobit, Edna is Raguel’s wife, Sarah’s mother, and the mother-in-law of Tobias, Tobit’s son. Edna has no biblical namesake; unlike the other women named in Tobit (Anna, Deborah, Eve, Sarah), her name does not evoke images from the Hebrew Bible. Perhaps the author of Tobit means to recall Eden’s idyllic existence, or, more likely, to convey by the name something about the type of woman, wife, and mother Edna is.

Elisheba: Bible

Daughter of Amminadav, sister of Nahson, Elisheba is the wife of the high priest Aaron and the mother of four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

Equality, Religion and Gender in Israel

A legal system is a mirror of the society in which it functions, reflecting different aspects of social reality at different levels of its infrastructure. Constitutional principles reflect the fundamental societal norms in Israel, formulated by the Lit. "assembly." The 120-member parliament of the State of Israel.Knesset as constitutive assembly and interpreted by the High Court of Justice. In the ordinary legislative process, there is a testing of practical priorities, of the preparedness of a society not only to declare values but also to implement them. Case law, whether constitutional or not, represents an amalgam of the priorities of petitioners, those members of the society who invest their energies in applying to court, and the perceptions of judges based on their professional training and their individual perspectives. The courts provide a forum for a dialectic of opposing views—the plaintiff articulates his or her case, the defendant responds, and the judges determine the norm as they perceive it, each in his or her own way. This litigatory process reveals both the parameters of social activism and the judicial perception of the normative consensus. By examining women’s status in these various legal forums, we can obtain an overview of the position of women in Israeli society.

Eve: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis view Eve, the first woman, as embodying the qualities of all women, and of femininity in general. As God’s handiwork, she is portrayed as the most beautiful woman who ever lived, and there was no fairer creature but her husband Adam. The midrashim about her exude an air of primacy: the first mating between Adam and Eve is described as a magnificent wedding, and their first intercourse aroused the serpent’s jealousy. The primal sin is generally symbolic of man’s sins, and through it the Rabbis seek to clarify why men trespass. The depiction of the woman’s creation leads the Rabbis to inquire into gender differences and the nature of the female sex, all through the eyes of the male Rabbis. They discuss woman’s different temperament, her mental maturity, her habits, the physical shape of her body, her behavior, and other aspects of female existence. The Rabbis attempt to provide an explanation for gender differences by means of a portrayal of woman’s different creation, and also as being a result of the sin of the Garden of Eden. Eve’s punishment is examined at length in the dicta of the Rabbis, who exhibit a certain degree of empathy in their ability to describe women’s suffering during the first three months of pregnancy, during birth, in instances of miscarriage, the pain of raising children, that of menstrual periods and other afflictions.

Family During the Holocaust

Where both the preservation of tradition and the acclimatization to social and cultural change are concerned, Jewish folklore attributes to the family a magic role in shaping the lives of individuals and the community at large. However, academic research on the Jewish family is only in its early stages and information on the Jewish family in Eastern Europe is particularly scarce.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in Paris, 1923

Fiction in the United States

Literature by American Jewish women reflects historical trends in American Jewish life and indicates the changing issues facing writers who worked to position themselves as Americans, Jews, and women.

Phila Franks

Bilah Abigail Levy Franks

No colonial American woman left a more engaging portrait of contemporary family, political, and social life than Bilah “Abigail” Franks.

Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan

Considered by many as the “mother” of the second wave of modern feminism, activist and writer Betty Friedan was one of the most influential feminist leaders of the second half of the twentieth century, a co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and its first president. She served on the boards of leading women’s organizations, fought for legislation to ensure women’s equality and wrote books analyzing women’s role in society and the women’s movement.

Henriette Furth

Henriette Fürth

Henriette Fürth succeeded in earning a much-needed income as a highly-regarded lecturer and journalist. In addition to publishing, Fürst found time to be involved in organizational life.

Abraham Geiger

Like many of his contemporary German-Jewish theologians, Abraham Geiger (1810–1874), the leading theorist and intellectual founder of the Jewish Reform movement, was nurtured in a traditional religious home and schooled in the classic rabbinic texts as a young child.

Rahel Levin Varnhagen, July 7, 1822, by William Hensel

Germany: 1750-1945

To view German Jewish history from the Enlightenment through the Holocaust from a gender perspective deepens our understanding of history in general and provides us with a richer, more complex and more inclusive picture of the Jewish past.

Glückel bas Judah

Glueckel of Hameln

Glückel, author of an untitled memoir in Yiddish that is the source of most of the information about her life (with the exception of the date of her death and several minor details), was born in Hamburg to an affluent family of merchants with commercial and familial ties to the court Jews and their surrounding circles.

Hadassah: Yishuv to the Present Day

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA) (hereafter: Hadassah) has a lengthy history of activity in the Jewish community in Palestine prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. "Old Yishuv" refers to the Jewish community prior to 1882; "New Yishuv" to that following 1882.Yishuv and Israel, going back to 1913, about a year after it was founded in New York, and continuing to this day, with the exception of a short period during World War I. This activity, outstanding in its scope, continuity, stability and diversity, encompasses efforts in the sphere of health and medical services, and in the welfare of children and youth through support of Youth Lit. "ascent." A "calling up" to the Torah during its reading in the synagogue.Aliyah, vocational education, vocational training and more.

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