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EPILOGUE In this book, we have attempted to highlight a sampling of representative women, considering each one in the context of her time and, as a background , discussing the generalities of life for each period. Our sources have been varied and numerous. European women such as Licoricia, Kandlein, and Venguessone came to us from Christian records. From Christian sources we also found mention of Jewish women doctors, teachers, and moneylenders. Islamic writings gave us information on a few Jewish women poets like Sarah and Qasmuna and a scattering of otherwise unknown individual women who were involved in lawsuits, divorces, or loans and whose cases came through the Muslim courts. Women such as Rashi's female relations as well as Dolce of Worms, Rabbi Isserles's mother, and some Hasidic women were part of prominent families , and details about them were preserved through the writings of their male relatives. Data about other women were gleaned from Jewish historical writings, including rabbinic responsa and a variety of books and articles, both old and new. Sometimes the name of a Jewish woman came from a footnote or casual comment that we were able to trace to an original Hebrew source. Information concerning additional Jewish women may still be buried in archives or in unpublished manuscripts waiting to be discovered. As printing and literacy spread, historical sources became so numerous that we had to carefully select whom and what would be included in this volume. But the multiplication of sources concerning Jewish women was not only the result of the spread of literacy . The Enlightenment movement (Haskalah) was another important factor . It removed individual restrictions and made it possible for Jews to function as citizens outside the Jewish community. In the process, it transformed Judaism and Jewish women everywhere. Even in Middle Eastern lands, where women had long remained without formal education, the ideas of the Enlightenment slowly spread. New organizations like the Alliance Israelite Universelle, founded in France in 1860, moved into less developed Jewish communities, including the Balkans, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Morocco, and Egypt. Aimed at improving the social and legal status of all Jews, the Alliance opened schools for girls where both secular and Jewish subjects were studied . Whether reluctantly or enthusiastically , whether inside the fence of Jewish law and community or in opposition to it, women moved into the modem world. Many made their mark on Jewish life, actively and creatively using the new outlook to serve Jewish causes while at the same time asserting their 273 274 Epilogue own independence. So Bertha Pappenheim (1865-1938) created the Jiidische Frauenbund in Germany, insisting that by becoming active in charitable causes Jewish women could be fulfilled. Lily Montagu (1873-1963) took advantage of the new religious openness by advancing the cause of Liberal Judaism in England. Golda Meir (1898-1978) asserted her independence from her parents and then from her husband, to follow a greater goal, working to help found and then lead the new State of Israel. Still others abandoned Judaism. Rosa Luxemburg of Poland (18711919 ) embraced Socialism. Fighting the battle to create a classless society, she died in prison. Large numbers of eastern European Jews became political rebels in the wake of the Haskalah and the growth of democratic movements . They fought against the government of tzarist Russia and for individual rights for all people. Many were imprisoned or killed. Manya Shol;lat (1880-1961) also began her adult life as a Russian revolutionary but found her way to Jewish Socialism and ultimately immigrated to the land of Israel, where she helped establish the kibbutz movement. In the past, power was available only to a small number of Jewish women, in very specific and limited circumstances. Today, Jewish women constitute an important and growing part of the secular, political world and also hold seats of power in official Jewish community organizations. Jewish women are prominent politicians , teachers, writers, philosophers, and rabbis as well as wives, mothers, and grandmothers. They are no longer required to choose between career and family as they were forced to in the earlier years of the twentieth century. Although beyond the scope of this work, women entering the twenty-first century have crossed all the boundaries that once existed in Jewish life. They have reexamined and sometimes challenged Jewish law itself and broken the hegemony of men in the synagogue . They have created a place for themselves in the Jewish academy, in the public realm of power, and in the private realm of spirituality. Rarely...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780827609747
Related ISBN
9780827607521
MARC Record
OCLC
676699912
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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