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A Breath of Life: Feminism in the American Jewish Community

A BREATH OF LIFE: FEMINISM IN THE AMERICAN JEWISH COMMUNITY by Sylvia Barack Fishman [Free Press], $22.95

Question: What’s been the single most revitalizing factor in the last two decades in American Judaism? Answer: Feminism.

In this comprehensive, very readable piece of scholarship, Sylvia Barack Fishman, assistant professor of Contemporary American Jewish Life at Brandeis University, charts how today’s feminists (like turn-of-the-century Eastern European Jews or, later. Holocaust survivors) are responsible for American Judaism’s freshest air. Examining women’s presence in different Jewish spheres—in the development of liturgy, in education, in communal leadership, in the arts, in broadening sexual and gender roles, in choices pertaining to parenthood—Fishman documents that, because of feminism, we are living during an age of Jewish efflorescence. Includes interviews and new demographic data. A germinal work.