Rachel's Daughters: Newly Orthodox Jewish Women

Debra R. Kaufman, Author Rutgers University Press $59 (243p) ISBN 978-0-8135-1637-0
A feminist and a sociologist, Kaufman was intrigued by those American ba'alot teshuvah (newly Orthodox Jewish women) who had come of age during the counterculture and the birth of the women's movement but who, in the 1970s and 1980s, embraced a patriarchal Orthodox Judaism. Although her book, for the most part, is an academic study, she offers accessible composite portraits of ba'alot teshuvah and some valid interpretations that should interest a wider audience. Disillusioned and threatened by the pursuit of personal fulfillment over commitment and obligation, the women under study claim that Jewish Orthodoxy replaces the ``masculine ethos'' of aggression and self-importance with a ``feminine ethos'' that stresses modesty and community. While many of the women say they reject feminism, Kaufman found that they resemble some feminists of the last century in that they insist on family-centered values for the community at large and hold men accountable to these. For ba'alot teshuvah, says Kaufman, sexuality and motherhood are communal acts; the women link the sexual and the sacred, and some contend that the family purity laws represent the purity rites surrounding the entrance to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Paperback - 262 pages - 978-0-8135-1638-7
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