Mothers in the Jewish Cultural Imagination

Jewish Cultural Studies, Volume 5

Edited by Marjorie Lehman, Jane L. Kanarek, and Simon J. Bronner

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ISBN: 9781906764661

Publication: August 1, 2017

Series: Jewish Cultural Studies 5

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The ‘Jewish mother’ figure is a hallmark of Jewish culture, one which appears in the works of rabbis, artists, poets, and activists across time and place. While depictions of mothers and motherhood abound in Jewish writings, they vary significantly according to social context. These representations therefore offer important insights into the Jewish cultural imagination, and the ways in which writers resort to the figure of the Jewish mother to comprehend and construct their world.

The contributors to this volume highlight the complex network of symbols and images associated with Jewish mothers and motherhood as well as the vast array of social, historical, and cultural patterns that characterizations of mothers reflect. Each essay treats the topic from a specific perspective, spanning from mother--daughter relationships in the Talmud to depictions of mothers in twentieth-century American Jewish children’s literature. Collectively, they present a provocative examination of the ways mothers shape and problematize Jewish identity.

This volume seeks to give the figure of the mother a new and enhanced place at the heart of Judaism: not only as a central figure in family life, but also as a key agent in the transmission of Jewish religion and culture.

Jane L. Kanarek is Associate Professor of Rabbinics and Associate Dean of Academic Development and Advising at Hebrew College.

Marjorie Lehman is Associate Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Simon J. Bronner is Distinguished Professor of American Studies and Folklore and Founding Director of the Center for Holocaust and Jewish Studies at the Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg. He is also the convener of the Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Section of the American Folklore Society. His books include Folklore: The Basics (2017) and Explaining Traditions: Folk Behavior in Modern Culture (2011).

Note on Transliteration

Introduction: Reimagining Jewish Mothers
 Marjorie Lehman, Jane L. Kanarek, and Simon J. Bronner

1 Cooking, Cuddling, and Candle-Lighting: Motherhood in Award-Winning Jewish Children’s Literature
 Emily Sigalow
2 The Jewish Mother’s Prayer: Mothers in Late Nineteenth-Century Hungarian Jewish Women’s Prayer Books
 Krisztina Frauhammer
3 Nene Mesl-e Na¯n—‘Mother is Like Bread’: The Perception of Motherhood and Folklore Expressions among the Jews of Afghanistan
 Tsila Zan-Bar Tsur
4 Mothers and Children in Ottoman Jewish Society as Reflected in Hebrew Sources of the Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries
 Ruth Lamdan

5 Like Mother Like Daughter: Mother–Daughter Relations in Babylonian Talmudic Stories
 Moshe Lavee
6 The (Re)production of a Maskilah: The Mother–Daughter Bond between Menuhah and Hava Shapiro
 Carole B. Balin and Wendy I. Zierler
7 Maurice Sendak’s Jewish Mother(s)
 Jodi Eichler-Levine
8 The Jewish Mother as Metonym for Community in Postwar America
 Josh Lambert

9 The ‘Mothers’ Who Were Not: Motherhood Imagery and Childless Women Warriors in Early Jewish Literature
 Caryn Tamber-Rosenau
10 Motherhood as Motivation: American Jewish Women in Action, 1890–1940
 Melissa R. Klapper
11 ‘Two Voices Heard in Castile’: Rachel and Mary Weep for Their Children in the Age of the Zohar
 Sharon Koren
12 ‘Where Was Sarah?’ Depictions of Mothers and Motherhood in Modern Israeli Poetry on the Binding of Isaac
 Dalia Marx

13 Depictions of Childbirth in Rabbinic Literature: The Innovation of a Genizah Midrashic Text
 Shana Strauch Schick
14 Upending the Curse of Eve: A Reframing of Maternal Breastfeeding in BT Ketubot
 Miriam-Simma Walfish
15 The Biblical Root ’mn: Retrieval of a Term and Its Household Context
 Deena Aranoff

16 Mothers and Ma’asim: Maternal Roles in Medieval Hebrew Tales
 Elisheva Baumgarten
17 On Teachers, Rabbinic and Maternal
 Mara H. Benjamin



Format: Paperback

Size: 240 × 160 mm

408 Pages

ISBN: 9781906764661

Publication: August 1, 2017

Series: Jewish Cultural Studies 5

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