America's Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today (Hardcover)
Winner of the 2019 Everett Family Foundation Book of the Year Award from the Jewish Book Council
A groundbreaking history of how Jewish women maintained their identity and influenced social activism as they wrote themselves into American history.
What does it mean to be a Jewish woman in America? In a gripping historical narrative, Pamela S. Nadell weaves together the stories of a diverse group of extraordinary people—from the colonial-era matriarch Grace Nathan and her great-granddaughter, poet Emma Lazarus, to labor organizer Bessie Hillman and the great justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to scores of other activists, workers, wives, and mothers who helped carve out a Jewish American identity.
The twin threads binding these women together, she argues, are a strong sense of self and a resolute commitment to making the world a better place. Nadell recounts how Jewish women have been at the forefront of causes for centuries, fighting for suffrage, trade unions, civil rights, and feminism, and hoisting banners for Jewish rights around the world. Informed by shared values of America’s founding and Jewish identity, these women’s lives have left deep footprints in the history of the nation they call home.
About the Author
Pamela S. Nadell is the Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender History and director of Jewish studies at American University. Her books include Women Who Would Be Rabbis, a National Jewish Book Award finalist. She lives in North Bethesda, Maryland.
America’s Jewish Women is a thoughtful history of a group of diverse, passionate, contemplative, vocal and dynamic women, and is a welcome addition to the American historical canon.
— Jordana Horn
[A] swift-paced and concise history of American Jewish women…Nadell fluidly intersperses thumbnail accounts of the famous and less so with a discussion of trends in American Jewish life.
— Julia M. Klein
A compelling and well-researched chronicle…The contributions of these remarkable women shine in Nadell’s impressive book.
— Julie Hale
Nadell presents an invaluable, recalibrating look at American, women’s and Jewish history.
A fascinating portrait of American Jewish women.
Nadell has taken on a big job in covering such a multidimensional, important subject. Nadell does it in informative and succinct style, and the result is a readable, valuable text.
In America’s Jewish Women, Pamela S. Nadell has done what would seem undoable: she has turned the diverse life stories of dozens of women across centuries of time into a mesmerizing whole. This is a book to read and reread, then sit back and contemplate, with a smile, the wondrous achievements of Jewish women in America.
— Francine Klagsbrun, author of Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel
Authoritative, comprehensive, and readable, this long-awaited book by one of the field’s premier scholars is destined to become an instant classic. It takes its place as the definitive history of Jewish women in America.
— Jonathan D. Sarna, university professor and Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University, and author of American Judaism: A History
No one is more suited to analyze the profound changes in the position and status of American Jewish woman than Pamela S. Nadell. With an expansive knowledge of both American Jewish history and women’s history, she brings to this book unparalleled insights. This book is a great read that is both informative and highly engaging.
— Deborah E. Lipstadt, author of Antisemitism: Here and Now
From the justifiably famous to the undeservedly obscure, three centuries' worth of American Jewish women come to vibrant, edifying life in the pages of Pamela Nadell’s book. This is not a collection of biographies, but rather a seamlessly arranged narrative of the intersection of gender, religion, identity, immigration, and assimilation. It is essential reading for anyone who seeks a fully inclusive sense of American Jewish history.
— Samuel Freedman, author of Jew v. Jew