Ranging in scope from the first female Jewish settlers to New Amsterdam in1654 to the emergence of the contemporary Jewish feminist movement. Her Worlds Praise Her: A History of Jewish Women in America from the Colonial Times to the Present (Hasia Diner and Beryl Lieff Benderly, Basic Books, $35) is an ambitious, comprehensive chronicle of Jewish-American womens history. With this book. Diner and Benderly assert “that women have had a distinctive history apart from Jewish men.” After all, they point out, “No one had to debate whether Jewish men could become rabbis or cantors, or if it is permitted for them to ascend the bimah and read from the Torah.”
Her Works Praise Her has the distinction of being an intelligent book and an accessible, entertaining read. From Malka “Molly” Chernikovsky, who immigrated from Eastern Europe to America in 1909, to Lee Krasner, who put her own work as an artist on hold in order to support the career of her husband Jackson Pollock, personal stories are used to support and embellish the historical narrative.
Lilith readers can also enjoy the particular naches of the book’s recognition of this magazine as an important development in the history of Jewish-American women. The authors write: “Named for Adam’s mythic consort before the creation of Eve, it [Lilith Magazine] takes an irreverent, female-centered but knowledge ably Jewish perspective on modern life.”