Resources for Jewish Women

Old Ceremony, New Resource

An old tradition in southern Germany, the Hole Kmashe ceremony for the newborn baby girl, was rediscovered by researchers at the new Jewish Women’s Resource Center in New York City.

The tradition in the Frankfort area was to invite friends to celebrate the birth. Children lifted the baby’s cradle saying: “Hole Kraasche. Hole Kraasche. Hole Kraasche. Wie soil’s Kindche heisse.” (“Lift the cradle. Lift the cradle. Lift the cradle. How should we name the baby?”) Then they would sing the baby’s name.

The Jewish Women’s Resource Center welcomes any additional information on this and other women’s ceremonies. According to Director Nina Cardin, the Center is particularly interested in information on women’s synagogues in Germany, Poland and elsewhere. The Center is also collecting oral histories of Jewish women, scholarly papers and dissertations, special material developed for bat mitzvahs, and data on the status of women in synagogues throughout the United States. Contact:

Jewish Women’s Resource Center 92nd St. YM/YWHA Library Dept. L 1395 Lexington Ave. New York, NY 10028 (212) 666-7090

Files and materials are also available from the Center’s co-founder, now in Minneapolis. Contact:

Carol Glass 3253 Holmes Ave. South Minneapolis, MN 55408


Laura Smith, director of the B’nai Brith Hillel Foundation of Northeastern Ohio, is forming a Jewish women’s discussion group. She has worked as coordinator and leader of similar groups in Montreal, which focused on topics ranging from the problems of feminist Jewish commitment to discussion of gynecological concerns. Women who identify strongly with Judaism should contact:

Laura Smith The B’nai Brith Hillel Foundation 11291 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH 44106 (216) 231-0040

In Toronto, a study group on the role of women in Judaism (including the Torah, Jewish history, communal organizations) meets every other Sunday. The group is open to both women and men. For information call:

Isabella (416) 537-9949

The Young Widowed of Westchester (New York) invites women and men under the age of 59 to join their self-help group. They meet the first Sunday of each month at the Greenburgh Hebrew Center in Dobbs Ferry. For information contact:

Mrs. Lilly Singer Westchester Jewish Community Services 172 South Broadway, Dept. L White Plains, NY 10605 (914) WH 9-6761


Women organizing Jewish Feminist theater productions may be interested in two new plays and a newly-translated one.

Gerry Fitz- Gerald Mitchell has written a sharp and funny play, “Lilith,” about the first woman and her relationships with Adam, Eve and the snake. She believes that it wouldn’t be hard to turn “Lilith” into a musical. For information contact:

Gerry Fitz-Gerald Mitchell 257 North Sierra Vista Rd. Santa Barbara, CA 93108

Ruth Friedman has written “Gluckel: Portrait of a Jewish mother,” about the 17th-century businesswoman and diarist. The imaginative staging involves dance and pantomime. For information contact:

Ruth Friedman 80-46 Grenfell St. Kew Gardens, NY 11415

“Hannah Senesch,” the two-act play by Aharon Megged, has been translated into English by Bilha Sperling and Elaine Starkman. For information write:

E. Starkman 3601 Valley Vista Rd. Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Eyn-Sof (“Without End”) is a one-woman theater production exploring the experiences of a turn-of-the-century Lithuanian immigrant who journeys around the world only to find that in the “new world” her old ways are misunderstood. Written by Caralyn Shapiro, the play explores the life of Sarah Singer Nitzberg as seen through the experiences, body and spirit of her granddaughter. It stars Deborah Nitzberg and is directed by Karen Cutler. Booking information for community performances is available from:

Elijah & Co. 318 East 6 St. Box 3E New York, NY 10003 (212) 260-1317

Karen Cutler 437 Washington St. New York, NY 10013 (212) 966-5609


A study tour of Israel is being organized by Feminist Tours of California for June 1979. Plans include meetings with a cross-section of Israeli women including religious Jews, Bedouin, and Druze, and presentations by community leaders and academics. College credit is being arranged for interested participants. For information contact:

Dr. Elaine Dallman Dept. L Feminist Tours POB35 Los Gatos, CA 95030 (408) 266-6303 (415) 435-1306

Updated Bibliography

The sixth edition of the comprehensive and annotated Bibliography on the Jewish Woman by Aviva Cantor has been published by Biblio Press. This edition, updated to spring 1978, has 55 pages of listings of books, pamphlets, papers and articles on Jewish women in the categories of History, Religion and Law, U.S. and Canada, Holocaust and Resistance, Israel, Poetry, and Children’s Literature. It includes both fiction and non-fiction.

The Bibliography is designed to be used by researchers, students, teachers and multi-discipline academics; program directors, group workers, Hillel leaders; members of Jewish women’s organizations, CR groups, informal study circles; and individual women who want to study various aspects of the lives and concerns of Jewish women.

The cost is $3, postpaid. Outside the U.S and Canada add 50 cents for surface mail, $1 for air mail. Checks or money orders should be made out to Doris B. Gold. Outside the U.S., pay by international money order. Bulk rates also available. Send order(s) to:

Biblio Press POB22 Fresh Meadows, NY 11365

Women’s Studies

“The Working Woman in Israel” —past history, present status and future promises-is a 100-page booklet by Naava Eisin covering Israel’s labor laws as they help and/or hinder women. Eisin documents women’s under-representation at decision making levels in the work force, and describes the realities of work for women on kibbutzim and moshavim. She also discusses working women in Israel’s minority populations—Druse, Christian and Moslem Arab. The booklet is published in English by Moetzet Hapo’alot, the Working Women’s Council of the Histadrut. Copies are available free of charge from:

Tamar Eldar-Avidar Attache for Women’s Affairs Embassy of Israel 1621 22 St. NW, Dept. L Washington, DC 20008

This year’s annual conference of the Association for Jewish Studies includes a session on Jewish Women’s Studies. The three papers scheduled for presentation analyze the works of two Israeli women writers and women writing in Yiddish. The conference will be held Dec. 17-19 at the Copley Plaza Hotel, Boston, MA. For information write:

Association for Jewish Studies Dept. L Widener Library M Harvard University Cambridge, MA 02138

A paper on Penina Moise, an early 19th century Southern poet, was presented at the Southern Jewish Historical Society’s March conference in Raleigh, NC. “Moise was unusual in that she pursued a literary career at a time when it was considered unseemly for women, especially Jewish women, to do so,” said Salomon Breibart, the paper’s author. “She was strongly influenced by her Southern environment, more profoundly by her Jewish heritage.” For information contact:

David Goldberg 133 West Franklin St. Chapel Hill, NC 27514

One step in pinpointing whether the American Jewish mother is any different from America’s Italian and Slavic mothers is Corinne Azen Krause’s “Grandmothers, Mothers and Daughters—An Oral History Study of Ethnicity, Mental Health, and Continuity of Three Generations of Jewish, Italian, and Slavic-American Women.” Issued by the Institute on Pluralism and Group Identity of the American Jewish Committee, the 176-page study was based on interviews with 225 women in the Pittsburgh area. A major conclusion was that for all three groups, ethnicity was important even for the youngest generation.

A videotape of three of the grandmothers included in the study, “77 and Still Going Strong,” can be rented for $25.

The study and film are available from:

Institute on Pluralism and Group Identity American Jewish Committee 165 East 56 St. Dept. L New York, NY 10022


A Weave of Women by E.M. Broner. Holt, Rinehart & Winston. $8.95. Lyrical novel about 12 women living in an old stone house in Jerusalem who share joys and sorrows, births and deaths, crises and triumphs, and make ceremonies and rituals from these materials of everyday life.

About Men by Phyllis Chesler. Morrow. $10.95. Powerful work showing how patriarchy perpetuates itself as men do unto their sons as their fathers did unto them. The book uses several different forms to examine different aspects of the perniciousness of patriarchy, including analysis, exploration of art and myth and autobiographical portraits. Includes material on the Bible and Judaism.

Playing for Time by Fania Fenelon. Atheneum. $8.95. Compelling testimony by one of the members of the Birkenau (Auschwitz) women’s orchestra whose only hope of survival was to make music in the death camp.

Written Out of History by Sondra Henry and Emily Taitz. Bloch. $12.50 cloth, $7.95 paper. Introductory overview and portraits of some of the outstanding Jewish women in history, many of whom are generally unknown and do not appear in children’s textbooks or scholarly histories (except possibly as footnotes). Based on secondary sources. Bibliography.

Such a Life by Edith LaZebnik. $8.95. Author’s autobiography of her youth in a Czarist shtetl and cities of the Jewish Pale, with real Jewish tarn (flavor). Reveals the terror of everyday life, the stifling atmosphere of the shtetl, and the raw courage of women—and men—in these circumstances. Punctures once and for all the “cute-little-shtetl” nostalgia nonsense.

The Hebrew Goddess by Raphael Patai. $2.95 paper. Revised and expanded from original Ktav edition. Germinal work, revealing female component of Jewish godhead. An absolute must for Jewish feminists.