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The Rabbi's Wife: The Rebbetzin in American Jewish Life

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Winner of the 2006 National Jewish Book Award, Modern Jewish Thought

This is a fine and much-needed book that certainly fills a gap in American Jewish religious history."

Journal of American History

"[B]rings an air of intimate credibility to the subject, being both a daughter, then a wife of a rabbi; but it is her historical scholarship that makes this book such an interesting read."

Virginia Jewish Life

"The first book to study the evolution of the role and the women who have filled it, The Rabbi's Wife not only honors many unsung heroines but provides a significant contribution to American Jewish history. In this well-written work, the women are no longer footnotes to their husbands' careers."

Jewish Week

"The book overflows with interesting stories and sharp insights into the nature of American Jewish communal life and culture. The strategy of profiling individuals valuably restores these women to the historical narrative...The Rabbi's Wife provides a model for further investigation into the role of women's leadership in American religious life"

Journal of American History

"In this well-researched and clearly written book, Schwartz illuminates an important area of Jewish women's religious and social life that most previous scholarship has either ignored or inadequately explored."

Choice, recommended

"(Schwartz) has succeeded in systematically exploring an important aspect of American Jewish life that was previously little known and largely ignored."

Buffalo Jewish Review

"In telling the story of the rabbis' wives in the United States in the twentieth century, Shuly Rubin Schwartz brings a new awareness to this group of women whose notable accomplishments have been neglected by scholars of American Jewish history."

— American Jewish History

"[It] will certainly entertain readers with personal stories about many of the well-known rabbis' wives (and their husbands) who have graced American Jewish history"

— Jewish Book World

"Historian Shuly Rubin Schwartz makes it quite clear that my fore-rebbetzins were hardly handmaidens of Congregation Beth Stepford. Rather, many were leaders in their own right, both inside and outside their congregations: teaching, lecturing, starting schools, engaging in philanthropy, founding and helming major national Jewish organizations—and having people over for study and sponge cake."

—Lynn Harris, NextBook.org

"This well-written book successfully uses the rebbetzin as a window into larger issues: the evolution of Judaism in America, the opening of possibilities for women in the late twentieth century and the changing mores of the institution of marriage."

Publishers Weekly

"Schwartz adds a new and important dimension to the history of American Judaism, to the history of American women, and to the history of American religion. She has introduced a new set of actors to the historic drama of religion in America."

—Hasia R. Diner, author of The Jews of the United States, 1654-2000

"This is the definitive work on the American rebbetzin. At once well-written and well-researched, it makes a notable contribution to the history of women in American Judaism, and puts forth a highly persuasive thesis: that many rabbis' wives in America married what they wanted to be. A landmark study."

—Jonathan D. Sarna, author of American Judaism: A History

"In this original and inventively researched study, Shuly Rubin Schwartz offers a moving portrait of women who have played an important, yet unheralded role in the religious and educational history of American Jews. The Rabbi's Wife compels us to rethink the nature and contours of leadership."

—Jack Wertheimer, Jewish Theological Seminary

Long the object of curiosity, admiration, and gossip, rabbis' wives have rarely been viewed seriously as American Jewish religious and communal leaders. We know a great deal about the important role played by rabbis in building American Jewish life in this country, but not much about the role that their wives played. The Rabbi's Wife redresses that imbalance by highlighting the unique contributions of rebbetzins to the development of American Jewry.

Tracing the careers of rebbetzins from the beginning of the twentieth century until the present, Shuly Rubin Schwartz chronicles the evolution of the role from a few individual rabbis' wives who emerged as leaders to a cohort who worked together on behalf of American Judaism. The Rabbi's Wife reveals the ways these women succeeded in both building crucial leadership roles for themselves and becoming an important force in shaping Jewish life in America.

Review:

"Schwartz writes this book as a scholar — she is a professor and dean at Jewish Theological Seminary — but also as a rebbetzin herself; for nearly 25 years, she was a rabbi's wife. (Her husband died in 2004.) Here, she examines the complex rebbetzin role in America over the past century, demonstrating how marriage to a rabbi could sometimes provide women with an accepted ministerial identity when they could not be openly ordained themselves. Schwartz rescues important but heretofore unstudied rebbetzins from historical obscurity and assesses their contributions as educators, organizers, charitable fund-raisers, writers and public speakers. Overall, this well-written book successfully uses the rebbetzin as a window into larger issues: the evolution of Judaism in America, the opening of new possibilities for women in the late 20th century and the changing mores of the institution of marriage." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Shame, a powerful emotion, leads individuals to feel vulnerable, victimized, rejected. In Shameless, noted scholar and writer Arlene Stein explores American culture's attitudes toward shame and sexuality.

Some say that we live in a world without shame. But American culture is a curious mix of the shameless and the shamers, a seemingly endless parade of Pamela Andersons and Jerry Falwells strutting their stuff and wagging their fingers. With thoughtful analysis and wit, Shameless analyzes these clashing visions of sexual morality.

While conservatives have brought back sexual shame—by pushing for abstinence-only sex education, limitations on abortion, and prohibitions of gay/lesbian civil rights—progressives hold out for sexual liberalization and a society beyond “the closet.” As these two Americas compete with one another, the future of family life, the right to privacy, and the very meaning of morality hang in the balance.

Synopsis:

2006 National Jewish Book Award, Modern Jewish Thought

Long the object of curiosity, admiration, and gossip, rabbis' wives have rarely been viewed seriously as American Jewish religious and communal leaders. We know a great deal about the important role played by rabbis in building American Jewish life in this country, but not much about the role that their wives played. The Rabbis Wife redresses that imbalance by highlighting the unique contributions of rebbetzins to the development of American Jewry.

Tracing the careers of rebbetzins from the beginning of the twentieth century until the present, Shuly Rubin Schwartz chronicles the evolution of the role from a few individual rabbis' wives who emerged as leaders to a cohort who worked together on behalf of American Judaism. The Rabbis Wife reveals the ways these women succeeded in both building crucial leadership roles for themselves and becoming an important force in shaping Jewish life in America.

About the Author

Shuly Rubin Schwartz is the Irving Lehrman Research Associate Professor of American Jewish History and Dean of the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. She is the author of The Emergence of Jewish Scholarship in America: The Publication of the Jewish Encyclopedia.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780814740163
Author:
Schwartz, Shuly Rubin
Publisher:
New York University Press
Author:
Schwartz, Shuly
Author:
Stein, Arlene
Subject:
General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Judaism - General
Subject:
Women's Studies - History
Subject:
Religious life
Subject:
Jewish studies
Subject:
Jewish - General
Subject:
Jewish
Subject:
Rabbis' spouses - United States - History
Subject:
Rabbis' spouses - United States -
Subject:
Judaism - History
Subject:
Religion Western-Jewish History
Subject:
Gender Studies
Publication Date:
20060131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
312
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Womens Studies
History and Social Science » Sociology » Jewish Studies
Religion » Judaism » History
Religion » Judaism » Jewish History

The Rabbi's Wife: The Rebbetzin in American Jewish Life New Hardcover
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Product details 312 pages New York University Press - English 9780814740163 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Schwartz writes this book as a scholar — she is a professor and dean at Jewish Theological Seminary — but also as a rebbetzin herself; for nearly 25 years, she was a rabbi's wife. (Her husband died in 2004.) Here, she examines the complex rebbetzin role in America over the past century, demonstrating how marriage to a rabbi could sometimes provide women with an accepted ministerial identity when they could not be openly ordained themselves. Schwartz rescues important but heretofore unstudied rebbetzins from historical obscurity and assesses their contributions as educators, organizers, charitable fund-raisers, writers and public speakers. Overall, this well-written book successfully uses the rebbetzin as a window into larger issues: the evolution of Judaism in America, the opening of new possibilities for women in the late 20th century and the changing mores of the institution of marriage." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Shame, a powerful emotion, leads individuals to feel vulnerable, victimized, rejected. In Shameless, noted scholar and writer Arlene Stein explores American culture's attitudes toward shame and sexuality.

Some say that we live in a world without shame. But American culture is a curious mix of the shameless and the shamers, a seemingly endless parade of Pamela Andersons and Jerry Falwells strutting their stuff and wagging their fingers. With thoughtful analysis and wit, Shameless analyzes these clashing visions of sexual morality.

While conservatives have brought back sexual shame—by pushing for abstinence-only sex education, limitations on abortion, and prohibitions of gay/lesbian civil rights—progressives hold out for sexual liberalization and a society beyond “the closet.” As these two Americas compete with one another, the future of family life, the right to privacy, and the very meaning of morality hang in the balance.

"Synopsis" by , 2006 National Jewish Book Award, Modern Jewish Thought

Long the object of curiosity, admiration, and gossip, rabbis' wives have rarely been viewed seriously as American Jewish religious and communal leaders. We know a great deal about the important role played by rabbis in building American Jewish life in this country, but not much about the role that their wives played. The Rabbis Wife redresses that imbalance by highlighting the unique contributions of rebbetzins to the development of American Jewry.

Tracing the careers of rebbetzins from the beginning of the twentieth century until the present, Shuly Rubin Schwartz chronicles the evolution of the role from a few individual rabbis' wives who emerged as leaders to a cohort who worked together on behalf of American Judaism. The Rabbis Wife reveals the ways these women succeeded in both building crucial leadership roles for themselves and becoming an important force in shaping Jewish life in America.

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