by Melanie Weiss

Handmaidens of Jewish Feminism

Tracking recent history

Two new books succeed in describing the complex roles of Jewish women in the time of Betty Friedan and the rise of the second wave feminist movement in America. In Jewish Feminists: Complex Identities and Activist Lives (University of Illinois Press, $20.00), Dina Pinsky seeks to build a complex understanding of who these foot-soldiers — or is it handmaidens? — of Jewish feminism are, and how they understand the two strands of their lives and work coming together, or, in some cases, not. Pinsky, decades younger than her subjects, conducted indepth interviews with 25 women and five men of the second-wave feminist movement, and had them carefully consider the ways in which their feminist and Jewish identities converge, diverge, interlock and push against one another.

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