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You will be writing two 4-5 page double-spaced essays in this class aside from weekly writing assignments explained above. You will choose the topics for the essays. I require that you use outside sources from the list provided (see Recommended Reading List below). Other sources must be approved before you can proceed further. 

You will consider certain topics that focus on the cultural phenomenon of Jewish American Feminism. You can analyze any literary texts, including essays and manifestoes, fiction and poetry by Jewish women writers from early America to the present. You can work on memoirs, contemporary feminist liturgy, or documentary film. You can study the Hebrew Bible in the American feminist imagination, the relationship between Jewish women’s autobiography and Jewish Feminism or study aspects of the historical development of Jewish feminist and religious ideologies.  

Each essay must consider sources from the list provided. The best essays will have a clear line of argument, and present a thesis. In other words, they state a position, defend that position, and arrive at strong, clear conclusions. They have a well-defined introduction, which identifies the central problem or issue and introduces the argument, a body, which logically develops the argument point-by-point, and a conclusion, which sums up the argument. All essays will require proper citation according to Chicago Manual of Style. 

Recommended Reading List for Analytical Essays 

Anthologies and Essays 

Evelyn, Torton Beck, ed. Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology (1982)

Lynn Davidman and Shelly Tenenbaum, eds. Feminist Perspectives on Jewish Studies (1994)

Susanah Heschel. On Being A Jewish Feminist (A Reader) (1983)

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz and Irena Klepfisz, eds. The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology (1986)

Irena Klepfisz. Dreams of An Insomniac: Jewish, Feminist Essays, Speeches and Diatribes (1990) 

Laura Levitt. Jews and Feminism: The Ambivalent Search form Home (1997)

Faye Moskowitz, ed. Her Face in the Mirror: Jewish Women on Mothers and Daughters (1994)

Miriam Peskowitz and Laura Levitt, eds. Judaism Since Gender (1997)

Danya Ruttenberg. Yentl’s Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism

Sarah Silberstein Swartz and Margie Wolfe, eds. From Memory to Transformation: Jewish Women’s Voices (1998)

Joyce Antler, ed. America and I: Short Stories by American Jewish Women Writers (1990)

Jules Chametzky, John Felstiner, Hilene Flanzbaum, Kathryn Hellerstein, eds. Jewish American Literature: A 

Marcia Falk. The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath and the New Moon Festival

Irena Klepfisz. A Few Words in the Mother Tongue: Poems Selected and New (1971-1990)

Marge Piercy. The Art of Blessing the Day

Nessa Rapoport. A Woman’s Book of Grieving

Ellen M. Umansky and Dianne Ashton, eds. Four Centuries of Jewish Women’s Spirituality: A Sourcebook (1992) Henny Wenkart, ed. The Jewish Women’s Literary Annual

Bible and Feminist Scholarship 

Henny Wenkart, ed. Sarah’s Daughters Sing: A Sampler of Poems by Jewish Women (1990)

Eleanor Wilner. Sarah’s Choice Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, 1994-

Alice Bach, Women in the Hebrew Bible: A Reader (1999)

Enid Dame, Lilly Rivlin, and Henny Wenkart. Which Lilith? Feminist Writers Re-Create the World’s First Woman (1998)

Anita Diamant. The Red Tent (1999)

India Edghill. Queenmaker: A Novel of King David’s Queen

Ellen Frankel. The Five Books of Miriam 

Naomi Graetz. S/he Created Them

Judith Kates and Gail Reimer. Reading Ruth: Contemporary Women Reclaim a Sacred Story

Alicia Ostriker. Nakedness of the Fathers

Jane Sprague Zones. Taking the Fruit

Rebecca Alpert. Like Bread on the Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition (1997)

Aviva Cantor. Jewish Women Jewish Men: The Legacy of Patriarchy in Jewish Life (1995)

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, Tara Mohr, and Catherine Spector, eds. The Women’s Passover Companion: Women’s Reflections on the Festival of Freedom and The Women’s Seder Sourcebook: Readings and Rituals for Use at the Passover Seder (2003)

Ora Wiskind Elper and Susan Handelman eds. Torah of the Mothers: Contemporary Jewish Women Read Classical Jewish Texts (2000)

Gail Twersky Reiner and Judith Kates, eds. Beginning Anew: A Woman’s Companion to the High Holy Days (1997)

Susan Weidman Schneider. Jewish and Female: Choices and Changes in Our Lives Today


Rachel Adler. Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics (1998)

American Jewish Women’s Culture

Joyce Antler. The Journey Home: How Jewish Women Shaped Modern America (1997)

Joyce Antler, ed. Talking Back: Images of Jewish Women in American Popular Culture (1998)

Charlotte Baum, Paula Hyman, and Sonya Michel. The Jewish Woman in America (1975)

Pamela Nadell, ed. American Jewish Women’s History: A Reader (2003)

Pamela S. Nadell and Jonathan D. Sarna, eds. Women and American Judaism: Historical Perpsectives (2001)

Jenna Weissman Joselit. The Wonders of America: Reinventing Jewish Culture, 1880-1950 (1994)