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Still Jewish

A History of Women and Intermarriage in America

Keren McGinity

Publication Year: 2009

Over the last century, American Jews married outside their religion at increasing rates. By closely examining the intersection of intermarriage and gender across the twentieth century, Keren R. McGinity describes the lives of Jewish women who intermarried while placing their decisions in historical context. The first comprehensive history of these intermarried women, Still Jewish is a multigenerational study combining in-depth personal interviews and an astute analysis of how interfaith relationships and intermarriage were portrayed in the mass media, advice manuals, and religious community-generated literature.

Still Jewish dismantles assumptions that once a Jew intermarries, she becomes fully assimilated into the majority Christian population, religion, and culture. Rather than becoming "lost" to the Jewish community, women who intermarried later in the century were more likely to raise their children with strong ties to Judaism than women who intermarried earlier in the century. Bringing perennially controversial questions of Jewish identity, continuity, and survival to the forefront of the discussion, Still Jewish addresses topics of great resonance in the modern Jewish community and beyond.

Published by: NYU Press

TItle Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v

Contents

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pp. ix-

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Preface

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pp. xi-xiv

One of my earliest childhood memories is of going to my cousin’s house and sensing that something was different, that is, not Jewish. I knew I was Jewish; my parents were both born and bred in the Bronx, and we celebrated Jewish holidays. I knew my paternal aunt was also Jewish. But...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xviii

My deepest gratitude is to the forty-six women who generously, and in three cases posthumously, shared their personal intermarriage stories that made this book possible. Their trust and experiences motivated me to persevere with the utmost resolve. Intermarried Jewish...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-18

Hannah Noble met her husband in medical school. He moved in with her on their second date, and they named their future children. Though he was Methodist, Hannah, raised as a secular Jew, knew she wanted to marry him and did not think that their different backgrounds...

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1. Immigrant Jewesses Who Married “Out”

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pp. 19-61

Immigrant Jewish women who intermarried in the early decades of the twentieth century were highly independent thinkers who refused religious conformity as a way of life. The Jewish women I consider here immigrated to this country between 1886 and 1894, and subsequently...

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2. Intermarriage in an Age of Domesticity

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pp. 63-107

The lives of ordinary Jewish women who intermarried between 1930 and 1960 have heretofore been invisible. Jews assumed that Jewish women who married non-Jews all but disappeared by rejecting their religion and ethnic group, and by severing their connections with the...

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3. Intermarriage Was A-Changin’

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pp. 109-154

The decades of the 1960s and 1970s represent a turning point in intermarriage and Jewish women’s history. In contrast to women earlier in the century, some of the women I discuss in this chapter who were Jewish when they married non-Jews actually became significantly more Jewish...

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4. Revitalization from Within

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pp. 155-195

Between 1980 and 2004 the high degree of disaffiliation permeating American society enabled women of Jewish heritage to marry men who frequently were not religious. The decrease in religious identification and observance among many Americans muted the differences....

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Conclusion

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pp. 197-216

America’s paradox of pluralism enabled the Jewish women in my study to marry Gentile men while also forcing the women to determine in what ways they integrated into the American population and how they retained their ethnic and religious heritage despite intermarrying...

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Afterword

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pp. 217-218

Although scholarly and personal interest in the concept and practice of intermarriage generated a substantial volume of literature, much more work needs to be done in this field. Titles referring to the “stranger” abound, including Ellen Jaffee McClain’s Embracing the Stranger...

Appendix

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pp. 219-220

Notes

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pp. 221-292

Selected Index

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pp. 293-305

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About the Author

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pp. 307-

Keren R. McGinity is the Mandell L. Berman Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Contemporary American Jewish Life at the University of Michigan’s Frankel Center for Judaic Studies. Previously she was Visiting Assistant Professor in History at Brown University...


E-ISBN-13: 9780814759615
E-ISBN-10: 0814759610
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814757307
Print-ISBN-10: 0814757308

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Jews -- Cultural assimilation.
  • Jews -- United States -- Identity.
  • Intermarriage -- United States.
  • Jewish women.
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