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Pioneers and Homemakers

Jewish Women in Pre-State Israel

Deborah S. Bernstein

Publication Year: 1992

This book deals with the experience and action of Jewish women in the new Jewish settlement in Palestine (the Yishuv) during the period of Zionist immigration to Palestine, from the last two decades of the nineteenth century until 1948. The wide range of topics concern the experience of East European immigrant women as well as that of traditional Yemenite women, the creative and radical action of the socialist pioneers of the labor movement as well as the liberal feminism of the middle-class women. Though based on scholarly research, this book brings forth women’s voices through their private and public writing.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

An anthology is a collective project. The combined work of many people gives it its special character. This anthology is a collective enterprise in more respects than one. It is, above all, the result of the interest and effort of the eleven contributors. Most of the chapters, while based on previous work, were written especially ...

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pp. 1-24

A new chapter of Jewish history began in Palestine in the late nineteenth century.* A new wave of Jewish settlement was underway, initiated by the Zionist Movement, a political and social movement for the establishment of a national home for the Jews in Palestine-Bretz Israel. Modern political Zionism developed during ...

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Part I. Between Tradition and Change

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pp. 25-28

A wave of Jewish immigration to Palestine began in 1882. It became known in Zionist historiography as the First Aliyah, to distinguish it from all preceding Jewish immigration. Thus a demarcation line was drawn between the Jewish community which had developed in Palestine during the nineteenth century-the Old Yishuv - and the community which grew out of the later immigrations ...

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1.Through the Eyes of a Settler's Wife: Letters From the Moshava

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pp. 29-48

Both men and women took part in the resumption of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel during modern times. Most of the twenty-eight moshavot (private rural settlements) of the First Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel), (1882-1904), came into existence as family communities (Aaronsohn, 1983). Nevertheless, it ...

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2. Literature by Women of the First Aliyah: The Aspiration for Women's Renaissance in Eretz Israel

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pp. 49-74

In any consideration of the literary works by the women of the First Aliyah (wave of immigration), we must, at the outset, try to clarify what women were like during that period. This clarification leads us to potential sources (historical records, memoirs, diaries, anniversary albums, and the like), but the account which emerges ...

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3. Yemenite Jewish Women - Between Tradition and Change

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pp. 75-88

Women's diversified role in the history of Palestine at the turn of the twentieth century has been given considerable research attention of late, and the findings have already succeeded in shattering a few myths concerning both the function and the status of women in those early pioneering days. In contrast to the old image ...

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Part II. Women of the Labor Movement

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pp. 89-94

The women of the labor movement, the pioneering women of the Second and Third Aliyah (the halutzot) arrived imbued with nationalist and socialist aspirations, expecting that in the new Jewish workers' society they would be full and equal partners. This was expressed most eloquently by Yael Gordon, one of the leading ...

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4. Manya Wilbushewitz-Shohat and the Winding Road to Sejera

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pp. 95-118

In 1907 on the Sejera training farm in the Lower Galilee, Manya Wilbushewitz implemented a socio-economic plan on which she had been working for several years.* Her goal was to organize a group of Jewish workers in a way that would enable them to support themselves in agricultural labor, without exploiting anyone ...

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5. The Women's Farm at Kinneret, 1911-1917: A Solution to the Problem of the Working Woman in the Second Aliyah

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pp. 119-144

In 1911 something without precedent was created within the Jewish community in Palestine: a women's farm at Kinneret in the lower Galilee. It was open to women only, since the workers' farms in general were closed to them except for kitchen and domestic duties. It was typical: only Jewish male laborers, for the most part ...

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6. Fragments of Life: From the Diaries of Two Young Women

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pp. 145-164

A search in the archives turned up two diaries, fragments of the lives of two young women. Both are, at one and the same time, unique individuals, anonymous young women, and typical figures of their time. Anya arrived in Palestine in 1912 and left less than two years later, in 1914. We know little of her before and after her ...

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7. A Woman Alone: The Artist Ira Jan as Writer in Eretz Yisrael

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pp. 165-182

Ira Jan was born in Kishinev, Bessarabia, in 1869 and died in Tel Aviv in 1919. Her real name was Esther Slepian but she signed all her paintings and stories with her pen name, Ira Jan. Her father, an advocate by the name of Yoselevitz, was well known in Odessa and his daughter received a general Russian education. He ...

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8. The Women Workers' Movement: First Wave Feminism in Pre-State Israel

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pp. 183-210

The Women Workers' Movement in pre-state Israel developed within the Labor Zionist movement as a reaction to the disappointment of a small group of women with the limited role they were assigned in the emerging society. From its beginnings in 1911, the movement aimed to expand the boundaries of the Jewish woman's ...

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9. From Revolution to Motherhood: The Case of Women in the Kibbutz, 1910- 1948

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pp. 211-234

The kibbutz, as an egalitarian, democratic and lay co-operative, constitutes an exceptional social phenomenon. It is therefore not surprising that it has been the object of interest for several decades now for sociologists. One of the most studied fields within the kibbutz, especially during the past twenty years, has been that ...

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10. Human Being or Housewife: The Status of Women in the Jewish Working Class Family in Palestine of the 1920s and 1930s

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pp. 235-256

Critique of the traditional Jewish society as it existed in Eastern Europe at the turn of the century was an essential component of Socialist Zionism. To what extent was this critique aimed at traditional patriarchal values? Did alternatives proposed by Socialist Zionism offer a change in family structure and in women's status? What type of family was developed in Jewish Palestine? As the ...

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Part III. Women's Rights, Women's Spheres

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pp. 257-260

Just as the women of the labor movement attempted to trans-form their socialist Zionist goals into feminist goals, so did the women of the middle-class. The middle-class of the Yishuv was composed of various social groups known at the time as the Hugim Ezrahi'm - the civic sector. These were a somewhat mixed assortment...

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11. On the Way to Equality? The Struggle for Women's Suffrage in the Jewish Yishuv, 1917-1926

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pp. 261-282

The issue of Women's Suffrage in the Jewish settlement of Palestine, the Yishuv, has not been considered in the literature dealing with the history of the community (Horowitz and Lissak, 1977; Shapiro, 1978; Eisenstadt, 1967).1 It is no wonder, therefore, that the prevalent view is that "women did not have to put up any form ...

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12. The Fringes of the Margin: Women's Organizations in the Civic Sector of the Yishuv

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pp. 283-304

The social sciences and humanities have frequently been criticized with respect to their gender bias. The argument is that historians have not paid attention to crucial events in history concerning women (Beard, 1971; Rosen, 1971; Eichler and Nelson, 1977). "Sexism in historical writing" claims Rosen (1971:541), "is ...


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pp. 305-308


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pp. 309-312

E-ISBN-13: 9780791496602
E-ISBN-10: 0791496600
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791409053
Print-ISBN-10: 0791409058

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 1992

Series Title: SUNY series in Israeli Studies