Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky: Stories of Accommodation and Audacity by Nora Rose Moosnick (review)
- Ohio Valley History
- The Filson Historical Society and Cincinnati Museum Center
- Volume 12, Number 3, Fall 2012
- pp. 91-93
- View Citation
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS FALL 2012 91 through and execute some notable work? Should the portraits of prominent Kentuckians painted elsewhere count? Pennington attempts to resolve some of these problems by dividing his book into two parts, an initial essay on Kentucky portraiture , followed by a series of catalogue essays organized by artist. Unfortunately, this organization leads to some confusion as the author discusses many notable works held by The Filson in the essay rather than as entries, and the essays include a few pieces from outside the state, such as Duveneck’s striking portrait of painter John White Alexander. Pennington might have taken more care in defining his categories and deciding which artists should be considered part of Kentucky history. But much of the charm of this book comes from the fact that the author does not pigeonhole figures into rigid categories but instead takes a sweeping view of the topic. Some of the book’s most interesting material highlights the careers of folk painters so obscure their birth or death dates are unknown, artists such as Charles V. Bond (c. 1826-after 1864), Reson B. Crafft (c. 1809-after 1877), Alonzo Douglass (c. 1810-1886), Edwin F. Goddard (c. 1815-1855), and William Henry Redin Jr. (1824-after 1872). Indeed, among the book’s greatest delights is that it allows readers to discover such obscure artists whose work finds no place in more disciplined and conventional histories. Henry Adams Case Western Reserve University Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky: Stories of Accommodation and Audacity Nora Rose Moosnick In Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky, Nora Rose Moosnick explores the lives of Arab and Jewish women living, working, and raising families in Kentucky, from the early twentieth century to the present day. Although many think of Arabs and Jews as strikingly different , Moosnick illuminates surprising parallels between them as a contribution to “local and national efforts to create connections between Arabs and Jews in the face of the tensions that bedevil them, even in Kentucky” (14). To accomplish this, she uses oral history interviews to understand the struggles, triumphs, and values shared by these women. Moosnick considers the many components involved in the forging of new identities by these women, whether they are new immigrants or the American-born offspring of Arabs and Jews born in the Middle East or Europe. Within these two groups, individual identities are shaped by a nearly endless number of factors. Some Arabs living in Kentucky are Christian, which creates a different identity than among Muslim Arabs in the state. Some Kentucky-dwelling Jews whose stories the author highlights prefer to identify as Russian, although others identify simply as Jewish. Regardless, all of these women strive to find a balance between maintaining their Old World ethnic, cultural, and religious identities while at the same time creating new identities that include such Americanisms as rooting for University of Kentucky basketball. For BOOK REVIEWS 92 OHIO VALLEY HISTORY the author’s informants, finding this balance has proven a lifelong journey. In considering these identities, Moosnick does an admirable job of focusing on the women’s differences, while still highlighting their remarkable similarities in experience and values. All of the women highlighted in Moosnick’s book are strong, independent, and take responsibility for creating their own place in their state and communities. Some have even achieved recognition and importance globally, one as a fashion expert, and another as an employee of the U.S. State Department. Most of these women own their own businesses or play vital roles in the success of their family businesses. Most are politically passionate and active, whether publicly or privately, and take seriously their roles as citizens of the U.S. and Kentucky. Many of the author’s subjects have stepped boldly outside the realm of what many of their contemporaries consider the social norm. Several were full-time working mothers during the 1950s and 1960s, while others never married, focusing instead on their careers and perhaps becoming a second mother to nieces and nephews. One subject, former Lexington mayor and Christian Arab Teresa Isaac, actively reaches out to Arab Muslims, a highly unusual practice among women of her background. In all cases, Moosnick...