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100 SHOFAR is to some extent lost by the author's embedding it in the narrative and refusing to address herself more explicitly to current issues centering on the Holocaust. In sum, Yahil's is an important work of synthesis which scholars will find informative and thought provoking, but its covering so much material and so many issues in one book does not make it readily available to the general reader. Robert Melson Department of Political Science Purdue University The Making oftheJewish Middle Class: Women, Family, and Identity in Imperial Germany, by Marion A. Kaplan. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. 351 pp. $39.95. In this work Marion Kaplan expands rhe scope of her first book, The jewish Feminist Movement in Germany: 'lbe Campaigns of the jiidischer Frauenbund. 1904-1938. That srudy mainly focused on a Jewish women's organization fighting for equality. This book looks beyond analyzing organizations. but instead views German Jewish women in both their private and public life. The author eschews the usual political and intellectual approach to German jewry to examine the personal, day-to-day basis ofJewish identity. Kaplan has "surveyed the unexamined territory of women's and family history and has underlined the significance of family and community as a locus for understandingjewish self-awareness and the ambiguities of acculturation" (p. 4). Yet she makes clear that her study does not treat women as separate and hence peripheral, but rather emphasizes the connecting spheres of public and private life. She does this by comparing and contrasting gender roles within Jewish families, relationships between German jewish women and their non-Jewish counterparts, and the connection between jewish women and the burgeoning German middle class. Studying marginalized groups often reveals as much about the society in general as the group in question. I-Iere the author concentrates on two marginalized groups: jews and women. This is not an easy task since sources dealing wirh privare life are difficult to come by, and often nor representative of the group at large. Kaplan makes splendid use of published and unpublished memoirs as well as community records to provide Vol. 10, No. -1 Summer 1992 101 a glimpse of what the private life of jews was like. Kaplan illustrates her creativity by utilizing sources as obscure as cookbooks to peer inside a previously neglected area. In fact, the first part of the book deals entirely with the role of jewish women in the home. She analyzes the function of housework, the ways in which jewish women became engaged, the purpose of religion, and the newly created idea of leisure. The second part of the book is less original but no less interesting. It surveys the prejudice and discrimination that jewish women faced in academia, employment, and within their various women's organizations. Through this study one comes to appreciate the hardships that all German women, but especially Jewish women, had in Imperial Germany. All German jews had the predicament of trying to be good Germans, internaliZing proper values of the German middle class (Bildung), without losing their religious heritage. According to Kaplan this dilemma was especially troublesome for jewish women. In most ways, Jewish middleclass women were indistinguishable from their Christian counterparts. Yet it was the woman's responsibility to instill some jewish knowledge and tradition (0 their children-men rarely (Ook part in child rearing. Despite being discriminated against in the synagogues, most jewish women still kept a "jewish" home. Kaplan contends that "women had to transmit judaism actively, whereas fathers only had (0 be religious" (p. 70). Where Kaplan's study is most intriguing is when she relates the position of jewish women to the general rise of the middle class. She writes that The r.lpid economic mobility of Jews, their use of birth control, and their desire to accultur.lte il1lo the German bourgeoisie as rapidly as possible, affected the role and needs of the family. Jewish bourgeois families required wives and mothers who could organize leisure activities in the home ... to act as a social and cultural mediator between the family and society at large. (p. ] 19) The author makes clear that marriages were still arranged and based more on economic status...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 100-102
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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