Cover image for Beyond the synagogue gallery : finding a place for women in American Judaism
Beyond the synagogue gallery : finding a place for women in American Judaism
Goldman, Karla, 1960-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xii, 275 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Jewish women: acculturation in old and new worlds -- Women's emergence in the early American synagogue community -- The quest for respectability: mixed choirs and family pews -- The trouble with Jewish women -- Women in the reforming synagogue: resistance and transformation -- Kaufmann Kohler and the ideal Jewish woman -- Beyond the gallery: American Jewish women in the 1890s.
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BM729.W6 G65 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This work recounts the emergence of new roles for American Jewish women in public worship and synagogue life. Karla Goldman's study of changing patterns of female religiosity is a story of acculturation, of adjustments made to fit Jewish worship into American society.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Worshipers in American synagogues may not remember or even be able to conceive of their sanctuaries without the physical and spiritual presence of women, but as Goldman's study shows, it wasn't always so. A professor of history at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Goldman posits that "it was in the synagogue that women's absence in public Judaism first became explicit and then unacceptable," a realization that, in turn, led to transformations in synagogue design and organization that shaped American Judaism. Focusing on the 19th century, she explores the changing boundaries of the traditional Jewish home-centered female world, as it converged with the expectations of American middle-class life. Rabbinic controversies and altercations because of gender-based rules paint a picture of the sanctuary in "embarrassing disarray," as women who were separated and silenced became a "seductive and sexualized" presence. Mixed choirs, family pews and women's organizations, Goldman says, emerged as institutions that began to validate women's voices, remove the rough edges from American Judaism and give it the measure of respectability it sought from its Protestant neighbors. While Goldman has some valuable insights, her dense, academic study reads like the scholarly dissertation that it once was, and does not draw enough connections to American Judaism today. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Weaving together anecdotes with choice quotes from letters and newspapers, Goldman (American Jewish history, Hebrew Union Coll.) presents a thorough yet accessible historical study of women!s growing participation in synagogue activities in the United States. Focusing on the 19th century, Goldman documents debates surrounding the Reform movement and examines architectural adjustments in U.S. synagogues. Further, she tells a triumphant story of Jewish women!s organizations in enabling women!s contributions. Goldman uniquely gathers these themes, contrasting with titles narrating general history of U.S. Jewish women, such as Joyce Antler!s The Journey Home: How Jewish Women Shaped Modern America (LJ 4/1/97). Other titles emphasize religious leadership, like Pamela Nadell!s Women Who Would Be Rabbis (LJ 11/1/98) or Miriam Peskowitz!s Spinning Fantasies: Rabbis, Gender and History (Univ. of California, 1997). David Kaufman!s Shul with a Pool: The Synagogue in American Jewish History (LJ 2/1/99) describes how the U.S. synagogue became a social and academic center. Although lacking an alphabetical bibliography to supplement endnotes, this work is recommended for academic libraries and large public libraries."Marianne Orme, West Lafayette, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Women and the Synagogue
1 Jewish Women: Acculturation in Old and New Worlds
2 Women's Emergence in the Early American Synagogue Community
3 The Quest for Respectability: Mixed Choirs and Family Pews
4 The Trouble with Jewish Women
5 Women in the Reforming Synagogue: Resistance and Transformation
6 Kaufmann Kohler and the Ideal Jewish Woman
7 Beyond the Gallery: American Jewish Women in the 1890s
Epilogue: Twentieth-Century Resonances