Transformed Role of Jewish American Women in Judaism: Reading Rebecca Goldstein’s Mazel


Bhaskar Lama

Dr. Bhaskar Lama teaches in the Department of English at the University of Hyderabad, India. His Ph. D dissertation is on the topic “Contemporary Jewish American Women Writings: Orthodoxy and Modernity”.


In the second half of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries, the Jewry from Eastern Europe and Russia migrated to America with dreams in their eyes and hope in their hearts of a better life for themselves and their family members. Religious persecution and socio-economic factors compelled them to dissipate into countries that provided them with opportunities for progress, especially America. They made some adjustments in their lifestyle, but would not wholly surrender their religious beliefs. Nonetheless, some reforms were brought about within their religion which impacted their individual and domestic lives. When these reforms were carried out, the voice of Jewish menfolk could be heard, loud and clear, but the voice of Jewish women was missing. The latter were oppressed in the hands of patriarchy in America too, as they were before moving there. Gradually, with the reforms in Judaism, the condition of Jewish women started to change along with their perspective towards Judaism. The first-generation Jewish American migrant women were not interested in Judaism as it debarred them from participating in it and curtailed their freedom. The second-generation women were involved in career-making and improving their public life, so they were indifferent to Judaism. Paradoxically, it was the third-generation Jewish women who showed a keen interest in Judaism from which the first and second-generation warded off. This essay focuses on the changing role of the Jewish American women towards Judaism in the twentieth century. It examines the reasons that necessitated the third-generation Jewish American women to participate actively in the religious tradition as opposed to their predecessors. In this context, the essay does a literary analysis of Rebecca Goldstein’s Mazel (1995), employing the theoretical framework of identity, racism and feminism.

Keywords: Judaism, Jewish American Women, Torah, Mazel, Rebecca Goldstein


     Jewish American women writing emerged as a resistant voice to the hoary patriarchal tradition. The works like Irving Howe’s World of our Fathers (1976)[1] go on to show the role of Jewish men in forming the Jewish American society. The literary representation always had Jewish male as a centrepiece. Even if there were female protagonists, like in the works of Mary Antin and Anzia Yezierska, at the beginning of the twentieth century, they were confined to the family chores. They did not have access to the main sanctum of the family which carved the Jewish identity, i.e. the religious front. It is the religion/Judaism which gave the Jewish fathers right to claim over everything that made up the Jewish life in America. Hence, the Jewish feminists sought for a book which would talk about “the world of our mothers” (Avery 4). There were many positive changes in the lives of the American Jewish women with the reforms brought in the religious and social front.

The traditional Judaism was orthodox, in form and practice. When Judaism evolved into other forms like Conservative and Reform, there were changes accordingly, in terms of approach to Torah[2], the Jewish religious book, and the inclusion of secular aspect in it.[3] The religion grew quite flexible towards Jewish women who could participate in the limited functions of the religion from which they were debarred earlier. The essay points out that the modern American Jewish women, especially the third-generation of the migrants, do not simply participate in Judaism, rather they take recourse to Orthodox Judaism. It argues that the modern Jewish American women, who have access to modern education, recline in the traditional faith to dig into their history and recount their participation. Secondly, in multicultural America, going back to the roots is also a process to reclaim one’s identity. 

Thus, the essay examines problems like women’s role in Judaism, their fight with racism and patriarchy, their balance of modernity and orthodoxy. To do so, it is divided into three sections: first, it reflects on Jewish women’s position in the religious space in general; second, it deals with Jewish women in America, and issues of modernity, racism and identity; finally, it examines the text, Rebecca Goldstein’s Mazel, highlighting the crucial issues, arguing the need of modern Jewish American women to take recourse in Orthodox Judaism.

Jewish Women in Religious Space: Patriarchy and Gender-bias

Traditionally, the Jewish law called Halakhah,[4] derived from the Torah, administered every aspect of Jewish life and expected the Jews to fulfil their religious commitment by following the precepts and commandments of God (mitzvah)[5]. It specified their duties, domestic and religious, which included monitoring the conduct of men and women. Given that men were privileged in this, there was prevalent gender-bias towards womenfolk. Norma Fain Pratt writes that Halakhah was guided by patriarchal order, and “women’s role in life was defined as caring for her husband, children, and home” (211). To be born as a girl was considered a “sad” in Judaism. Jewish men would thank their stars that they were born as men and not women. In this context, Hana Writh-Nesher writes: “The Torah left by Moses is the heritage of the children of Jacob...” and males recite it in their morning prayers, “I thank Thee, Lord, for not having created me a female” (73). Ann Braude expresses her dismay that the Jewish women were excluded from religious duties in traditional Judaism. She writes that in normative rabbinic Judaism “women could not be counted in the minyan of ten adults required for public prayer.” Accordingly, they could not say a prayer for the dead (kaddish), nor could they serve as a witness. In the synagogue, women were secluded behind the barrier (mechitza) far from men who read from the Torah. Married women were supposed to “wear wigs to hide the attractiveness of their own hair” (112).

In Judaism, women were dehumanized of their emotions and pains, their individuality and experiences were not valued, and they were seen as a source of sin. Judith Plaskow writes that Judaism is a “deeply patriarchal tradition” (xiii), in which “women’s experiences have not been recorded or shaped the contours of Jewish teaching because women do not define the normative community” (8). In other words, Jewish women have never had the chance to represent or speak about themselves, but have always been “seen through the filter of male interpretation” (8). They have been treated as non-entity, writes Cynthia Ozick recounting her experience of Sabbath in “Notes Toward the Right Question: A Vindication of the Rights of Jewish Women”:

In the world at large I call myself, and am called, a Jew. But when, on the Sabbath, I sit among women in my traditional shul and the rabbi speaks the word “Jew,” I can be sure that he is not referring to me. For him, “Jew” means “male Jew.”…When the rabbi speaks of women, he uses the expression “Jewish daughter.”….”Jew” signifies adult responsibility. “Daughter” evokes immaturity and a dependent and subordinate connection. (qtd. in Braude 134)

So, the Jewish women did not have any say either in the religious matter or in domestic affairs. They were supposed to dutifully obey their husbands and carry out household chores.

The Jews have always been a victim of religious persecution and racism. They were persecuted throughout history for being non-believers/non-adherents to “the New Israel”[6] or Christian faith. They were seen as murderers of Jesus Christ, and the doctrine of Saint Augustine suggested that “the conversion of the Jews was a Christian duty and essential to the salvation of the world” (Fredrickson 19). They were “demoniz[ed]” and executed, and their communities were “pillag[ed]” (20). The racism towards Jews was predominantly “exclusionary” in nature, and they were tolerated until they remained within their ghettos. When they moved out from the ghettos, it incurred unwarranted punishment in various forms, especially due to the furore of anti-Semitism among non-Jews. To consider that these problems were merely faced by Jewish men and would have no impact on Jewish women is to foreground a naïve statement. The Jewish men would make the Jewish women the beast of burden; vent the frustration of the outside world in the domestic space.

The struggle of Jewish women needed an outlet to address many of these problems, on different fronts―religious, domestic, economic and social. When the Jewry moved to America in the hope of better life and freedom from various parts of Europe, particularly eastern Europe and Russia, this also provided an opportunity to Jewish women to enhance their lives at multiple levels. However, the progress was not immediate, and they had to face gender-bias and racial problems. These shall be taken up in the next section.

Jewish Women in America: Modernity, Racism and Identity

The migration of Jews in America did not immediately improve the quality of their lives. The condition of Jewish women remained pathetic even after migrating to America as religious constrictions remained the same for them even there. They faced inequality everywhere, including the synagogues where the seating arrangements were such which “mirrored social and gender inequalities within the community and reinforced religious discipline” (Sarna 18). Women were not allowed to worship from the centre where the ritual was conducted. Instead they “worshipped upstairs in the gallery” (18) as per the Jewish tradition. They had no say in religious matters, and to silence their voices, they were disqualified from reading/studying the religious scriptures. However, there was a gradual change in the way Jewish women were perceived within Judaism and how Jewish women looked upon their religion. This was a result that came about due to the changes in the social, economic, and religious advancement in the lives of Jewry, and the internal reforms in Judaism.

Over time, the condition of American Jews improved from the initial days of migration. The gradual changes within Judaism were offshoots compelled by the need to adjust to the new world. The seeping in of modern education remoulded their traditional bearings. There were massive reformations within the structure of American Judaism like the induction of female Rabbis and the removal of barricades between male and female worshippers in the synagogues. These changes did not happen in the absence of Jewish women’s participation. Instead, they were overtly involved in bringing about the changes to improve their status quo within the community. Judith Plaskow writes that Jewish feminism had “emerged as a diverse and complex religious and social movement”, and they addressed “inequalities in Jewish life” (xv). They also discussed matters that concerned “ethnic, national and communal elements” (xv). Thus, the Jewish women had a massive responsibility and opportunity to prove that they were not just the passive recipient of established norms and traditions.

American Jewish women realized their potential and the necessity to speak up for their rights. Herschel writes that Jewish feminism is very much “American phenomenon” which grew “out of political movement for social change associated with the struggle against racism” (46-47). When Fishman writes, “[t]he Jewish women are intelligent, articulate and aggressive and they do not passively accept what fate has to offer them” (2), it embodies the language of a challenge to the condescending attitude that Jewish men had towards Jewish women for ages. In Ozick’s words, feminism is “equal worth of the sexes, before God and humanity and equal access to whatever needs doing in the world, or to whatever the world calls you to do?” (qtd. in Kauvar, “Interview” 1993: 372). Hence, the stand which Jewish women had taken was not to separate themselves from the religion, instead to participate in the religion to bring necessary changes. These changes would not be confined to the religious sphere but would connect to the domestic and social spaces.

The watershed moment that replicated in the changes of American Judaism, particularly for Jewish women, provided an opportunity to the American Jewish women to think about their family, identity and their role in Judaism. Modern American Jewish women, who were educated in modern institution showed intense interest in Orthodox Judaism. They wanted to participate in Judaism fully: to read religious books, to form minyan, and other activities of the synagogues. The question arises here regarding the burgeoning interest of these modern American Jewish women in Judaism. Why was it important for them to recline on the Orthodox Judaism which deprived Jewish women/them of their rights for ages? While Jewish women wanted more freedom, and their modern education provided them so, why did they look back upon religion which had restricted their ‘being’? Before we answer these questions, we need to discuss Jewish American women in the context of the outside world and racism.

While the Jewish women had to fight a battle within Judaism, the outside world was another big challenge. The modern Jewish American women were not simply accepted by the mainstream “white” American women as one of them. This problem has its connection to the historical setting of Jewish immigration. The European immigrants were compelled to fit into the category of “white” and “by deciding they were white,” (Roediger 330) they wanted to fit in to avoid racism meted out to the African Americans.[7] Nonetheless, as the Jews were a part of the “trading minorities” they had greater opportunity to develop a positive sense of non-white identity (336). They also knew that they did not have to face the danger of being branded “niggers” (337). Hence, they faced a different kind of racial discrimination, i.e. of exclusion. Essed Philomena and David Theo Goldberg write: “racism operates in relation to and through other systems of exclusion, marginalization, abuse and repression” (3). Thus, Jewish American women met racism through exclusion when they participated in the women’s movement of the 1960s. It was professing of their religion which brought in anti-Semitic feelings from the others. Despite that, Jewish women became more strict followers of their faith. Why were they so bent on their religious propensity when they had the option to leave a modern secular life, with more freedom?

My take on these problems is two-fold: firstly, the modern Jewish American women attempt to reclaim their past in which they were deprived of religious participation. This argument is in tune with Susannah Heschel’s point that Jewish feminists wanted to “create new rituals and to find halakhic justifications for women to observe aspects of Judaism from which they were exempt” (46). It is an attempt to understand the religion by actively participating in it, at the same time logically analysing the reasons for gender-bias that operated for ages within it. Secondly, I argue that the third-generation Jewish women who were born around/after the women’s liberation movement had encountered racism in multicultural America. This was also a time when the educated people of ethnic groups like African American were taking recourse to “roots” to trace their history and identity. The third-generation Jewish American women also encountered the questions of identity in multicultural America, given that they had experienced some forms of racism. To settle these simmering questions of their exclusion from their religion, their othering from the mainstream world, and their quest for identity, the only recourse was their “roots”, Judaism. The next section examines the aesthetic representation of all these problems/concerns and subjectivity of Jewish characters through literary analysis.

Literary Representation: Rebecca Goldstein’s Mazel

Goldstein’s Mazel published in1995 won the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award. Mazel means luck in Yiddish, and Jewish people strongly believe in it—Mazel is a “great confounder of closed systems and their pretenders” (1) (all the quotes hence will be from the text). In the process of writing Mazel, Goldstein mentions in the “Afterword” of the novel, she felt intense Jewish experience, as Jewishness “snuck up” on her. This effect surprised her as it proceeded to apply on all that followed, just as it happens with one of her “very own character” (364). Mazel is about three women of three different generations―the grandmother, Sasha; her daughter, Chloe; and Phoebe, the granddaughter¾who distinctly whittle their career and live in a markedly idiosyncratic manner. Sasha is an actress, who had her reputation in pre-war Poland in Yiddish theatre, later she migrates to New York. Chloe is a professor of Classical languages in Columbia, and Phoebe is a professor of mathematics at Princeton University. These three women are ideologically different from each other. For the sake of lucidity, the analysis of the novel is divided into two sections: Pre-American Life and Life in America.

Pre-American Life: Shtetl and Judaism

Goldstein depicts the condition of Jewish people in Poland, around the 1930s, in poor limelight due to reasons like poverty and religious discrimination. Owing to these reasons, the Jewish people leave their homes and move elsewhere in search of a job and a better life. Sasha, whose actual name was Sorel, was born in Shilftchev, a shtetl or Jewish settlement in Poland keeps moving to different places to build her career, and in search of freedom from the confines of religious restriction. It was not just Sorel/Sasha who wandered to different places, but most of the Jewish men and women did the same. Her mother, Leiba, travelled far and wide for commercial purposes with her husband. Her sister Fraydel thinks of going off with the “gypsies”. Her partner, Maurice, moves from Poland to Palestine and then to America, and from there he keeps moving without settling down anywhere. Even Sorel travels with the Bilbulnik Art Theatre to different places. Then she leaves Shluftchev for Warsaw, where she is given a new name, Sasha, by Aunt Frieda. From there, she moves to Vilna, conceives Chloe, and gives birth to her in Palestine. Finally, she travels to America and settles in Manhattan, New York.

Life had been difficult for the Jewish women, in Poland, within the confines of their religion. They were not allowed to express their mind, and speaking and singing openly were considered depravity. Leiba would not sing during day time “lest [she should] be heard by some male outside of the family, which is forbidden by modesty……… [and her] singing was one of the nighttime secrets that Sorel kept to herself” (10). Sorel could not participate in the theatre without being a rebel, as women were not supposed to involve themselves in activities that involved any form of public display. Her sister, Fraydel, was an excellent storyteller and a brilliant person. However, she became prey to the priest whom she loved and “me[t] in secrecy”, and he inflicted the “poison of self-hatred” in her (151). Helen Meyers writes, in Fraydel Goldstein “presents us with a portrait of a madwoman of the shtetl- a Jewish Judith Shakespeare figure who could find no outlet for her genius in the oppressively traditional shtetl” (62). Fraydel, finally, ends her life by committing suicide.

Problems were emanating from the social quarters for the Jewish people. They wanted to fit into the society, and to do so, they had to mask their identity, as it was their Jewish identity that caused them trouble. One of the identity markers that they compromised over was their Jewish names. They changed their names to be acceptable to the mainstream society, and to prove that they were modern, therefore, secular. In Mazel many characters change their names: Fruma and Chayim changing their names to Frieda and Heinrich, and names of their sons Velvel, Meyer and Leibel to Wolfgang, Maximilian and Ludwig respectively. Aunt Frieda provides Sorel with a new name, Sasha. Another instance of racial discrimination that the novel depicts is the covert banning of the first Yiddish play, Serkele, a “story of an ambitious woman.” It was not produced in the lifetime of its writer, Solomon Ettinger. Hence, “copies of the manuscript were privately circulated, daringly read in the salons and parlors of the Polish Jewish intelligentsia” (178). Thus, the discrimination was of race and gender as the lead character was a female Jew.

Compromising their religious belief fetched some relief to both Jewish wo/men in Poland, though this came at the cost of resentment of friends and relatives of similar faith. Hence, the Jewish wo/men were rattled in the quandary of private and public life as they tried to balance between these two, in the context of modernity and tradition. Aunt Frieda, in Mazel, is an example of this blend: She was “a modern, married woman who didn’t cover her hair. Though she had assured Sorel’s mother that her home was strictly kosher, [but Sorel’s father] didn’t touch any of the fancy pastries that Aunt Frieda laid out on the round table” (172). With these changes, in their lives, Frieda and Henrich, her husband, “instantly bec[ame] people of the highest importance, mixing with the most elite of Jewish society” “in Poland, even in such city as Warsaw” (168). Hence, it required some compromise over their traditional Jewish faith to blend themselves in society. Such changes also brought about class hierarchy within the Jewish people, so in Warsaw, there was a particular class of “Jews who didn’t look like Jews, who didn’t think like Jews” (167).

Given all the difficulties and discrimination that the Jewish people encountered they moved to different parts of the world which permitted them, and America was one such haven. However, the question of home and homeland did not leave the Jewish people even in America as Helene Meyers deals with this topic in her discussion of Mazel.[8] Though the first-generation migrants to America would find a space for themselves to grow in many fronts, it is the later generations that come up with problems of different nature, like identity and racism. The major concern for the first-generation would be that of survival, and the generation that follows would have time and space to think about matters that form their subjectivity. In the next section, the essay takes up this changing scenario of Jewish women in America from one generation to the next.

Life in America: Jewish Women’s Role in Judaism

In Mazel, when the Jewish people move from shtetl to different places, they had a difficult time as they encountered unfamiliar settings—social, political and religious. For the Jewish women, facing modern pattern of livelihood posed a challenge as they were always trained in a traditional religious manner. However, for Sasha, it was relatively easy to embark on the model of modern livelihood given that she was ambitious and flexible to changes. She was “an irrepressible champion of chance and disorder” (16) and “emphatically, not the sort of person whose head is swivelled on backward, fixated on the past” (21, emphasis in original). She was quick in adapting to changing situation, showing-off her talents, and boasting about her daughter. Sasha neither followed religious rituals nor did she mingle with people who would make her realize of her religious duties.

On the other hand, her daughter, Chloe, was not as open-hearted and liberal like her mother, nor was she decisive about matters like her daughter, Phoebe. She represented a figure that was caught up in a mess between her own personal life and her societal responsibilities. She shared the same fate as her mother, as she was also a single-parent. She was educated, modern and individualistic like her mother. She knew that her daughter missed her father as she asked about him often. Chloe considered Judaism outside the realm of her experience, and “had no idea whether this was, in itself, a good thing”, however, she thinks that it is good for her daughter (336).

Paradoxically, it was Phoebe who was not just religious, but a strict follower of Judaism, and “describe[d] herself as orthodox” (332). She decided to "start taking being Jewish so very seriously, insisting on removing it from the level of mythology" (336). She was a strong personality, and Sasha saw the trace of her sister in Phoebe: “Fraydel returned, given a second chance at life” (17). Phoebe was imaginative and brilliant, a challenge to existing patriarchy. Phoebe moved to Lipton, the place which Sasha senses as a modern version of Shluftchev, the shtetl, that did not provide an opportunity for Fraydel. However, given that Phoebe had similar brilliance like that of Fraydel, and she was in a setting that enabled the growth of her talent, there were chances that she would do something unique. Phoebe was exactly the character that Goldstein aimed for: “I'm interested in characters who are full of longing, who have that sense of displacement” (Lang 6).

The question about Phoebe that arises here is the kind of displacement that she suffered. This will also enable us to understand her interest in Orthodox Judaism from which her grandmother distanced herself. In the case of her mother, as a second-generation Jewish woman, she was still striving to balance between professional and personal life. As a single mother, she had responsibility within the domestic sphere, and as a University Professor, she had responsibility at the professional level. But more than that, as a second-generation Jewish American woman, she was amenable about her stance regarding her religion working in a secular and modern space of the University. Hence, she was indifferent to her religion and did not indulge in thinking about it.

In case of Phoebe, a modern Jewish American woman of third-generation, who had a prospective career as a mathematics professor, the case was different. She chose to follow her traditional religion, unlike Sasha and Chloe, and wanted to marry in an Orthodox Jewish manner. When Goldstein says that in Mazel the Jewishness “snuck up” her very character, she certainly implies Phoebe. In other words, Phoebe also resonates like Goldstein who says in the interview: “I'm a philosopher and a rationalist. I take grounding beliefs very seriously. I think that it's a very important human responsibility. We have to look for justification” (20). When Phoebe reclines to Orthodox Judaism despite her modern education, there are many “justifications” that back up her stance.

Some of the justifications emanate from the fact that the modern academia that Phoebe was engaged in post women’s movement discussed issues of cultural relevance like identity and subjectivity. It is not very unlikely to have an impact of such discussion in the interdisciplinary set-up. This was a historical moment for the ethnic groups in quest of their identity, like the African American were taking recourse to the “roots”, i.e. Africa, to define themselves[9]. In case of Jewish people, the only roots that they could go back to for identity was their religion, i.e. Judaism. The other reason why Phoebe takes recourse to the Orthodox faith is also to reclaim the status within the religious faith from which they had been historically debarred. As an academician, Phoebe had the time to reflect on matters that concerned historical injustice, like racial and gender discrimination, over the period of time how it had contributed to her subjectivity. It is similar to what Cynthia Ozick says, “I do very much see Judaism in its ontological and moral aspects as a civilization that continues to define how I am to understand my life” (qtd. in Kauvar, “Interview” 1985 379). In a similar strain, Phoebe sees no escape from Judaism in defining and understanding herself, thus, she embraces it.


The condition of Jewish women from the time they arrived in America to the time they wilfully participated in the functioning of Judaism is a trajectory marked with lots of ups and downs in their lives. These ups and downs are caused by continued developments that occur within the Jewish communities in America, at the same time, changes marked in multicultural American society. The changes that ensued owing to reforms within Judaism enhanced the position of Jewish women within the religious sphere, and that enhancement spread in the domestic and social spaces too. Jewish women started to feel free and pursue their dreams and acquired modern education. The religion which was looked upon with abhorrence for its restrictive nature was something to look upon for security. This backcloth of Jewish women’s trajectory, from discarding Judaism to taking up the ownership, finds its depiction in Rebecca Goldstein’s award-winning novel Mazel. Goldstein’s heroine, the first-generation migrant Jewish woman Sasha is an epitome of rebellion, who navigates her way through the modern life of America in her terms and conditions. She is indifferent to her religion as the primary focus is on survival. Her daughter, Chloe, is a second-generation Jewish woman in America who is educated and teaches at Columbia University. She is a single mother and entrapped in the phase of transition of life, from survival to career. Thus, for her, religion is not of much consequence as she adjusts herself with the Jewish identity in the modern secular world. What was renounced by the previous generation is embraced by the third-generation—the modern and educated granddaughter of Sasha, Phoebe. She is not just religious but chooses to pursue Orthodox Judaism. As a professor of mathematics, she can rationalize matters to their advantage, and teaching in Princeton gives her avenues to indulge in reflection and discussion on cultural issues, like ideology and identity. It was also a historical time that educated people in ethnic groups were sprawling upon their roots to give meaning to their lives. Phoebe looks for this meaning-making process in her religion by understanding the historical exemption that Jewish women underwent, and subverting such historiography through her participation in Orthodox Judaism.




[1] For details see, Irving Howe’s World of Our Fathers: The Journey of the East European Jews to America and the Life they Found and Made. Touchstone, 1976.

[2] Alternate spellings are Toirah, Toyre, Torah. It literally means “Teaching”, and includes the five books of Moses. In general, it means Jewish law and value. See, Jewish English Lexicon

[3] Orthodox Judaism upholds the point of view that the Torah is God-given, and it decides the course of life of the Jewish people.  Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal. Conservative Judaism is slightly more traditional in its approach, but Reform Judaism is more secular in approach. It views Jewish laws as “a source from which individual Jews may draw ceremonies and other practices which they find meaningful.” For more information on the differences between the three types of Judaism, one can refer David Steinberg’s “Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism”. The differences have been systematically arranged for more convenience of the readers in terms of Religion, Jewish Laws, Secularism and others.


[4] Also, written as Halachah or Halakha. it means “a set of Jewish rules and practices which affects every aspect of life”. It comes from the Torah, the rabbis, and custom. See, Judaism 101: Halakhah: Jewish Law

[5] Alternate spellings are mitzvah, mitsve. It literally means “commandment” and good deed. See, Jewish English Lexicon

[6]  By “the New Israel” Alina Polyak means The Christian Church, which overtook the “birthright of the Chosen people.” See, Tradition and Modernity in Contemporary Jewish American Literature, VDM Verlag Dr. Müller Co., 2010.p. 18.

[7] The racism meted out to the African American was that along the “color-line” to put in terms of W.E.B. Du Bois in The Soul of Black Folks.

[8] For full article, see Helene Meyers’ “On Homelands and Home-making Rebecca Goldstein's Mazel.Journal of Modern Literature, Vol. 33, No. 3, 2010, pp. 131-141 Published by: Indiana University Press Stable URL:

[9] Many of the African American writers post-Black Arts Movement looked for “roots” for their identity. To mention some: Alex Haley, Sania Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison, etc.






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