Those Women of Valor

Looking at Americanization and how women creatively grappled with relocation is the subject of “Immigration and Adaptation: Jewish Women of the Lower East Side,” an illustrated talk by historian Annie Polland. Keeping the Sabbath, an important marker of Jewish identity for many women, was a great challenge when they observed a different Sabbath from their new neighbors. Men and children—especially eldest children—were often working in sweatshop conditions, and women who stayed home were business people, renting rooms and caring for boarders in their homes. And having a Friday night Shabbat meal has always required labor and forethought. Although they wouldn’t have used the term at the time, figuring out how to be secular or cultural Jews was one of the great accomplishments of these women. The talk is co-sponsored by the American Jewish Historical Society at the Yiddish Book Center.