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‘Ballots, Babies and Banners of Peace’

Melissa Klapper's Ballots, Babies, and Banners of Peace provides a compelling and precise navigation through the largely unknown territories of American Jewish women's social and political activism in the early twentieth century. While historians have focused primarily on American Jewish women's contribution to the labor movement or to radical movements like socialism and communism, Klapper concentrates on suffrage, birth control and peace, movements in which Jewish women were found in significant numbers.

She argues convincingly that for these women, many of these causes were connected, and that they sprang from deep roots in their Jewish experience, including both the desire for social justice and the wish to acculturate. One of her most intriguing findings is that Jewish women's activism provided an effective path to social integration into communities of politically active non-Jews, even while their participation in these movements expanded their own Jewish identities.

Pathways for Jewish men often differed: Gender mattered.

Ballots Babies and Banners of Peace – The Forward

Personal papers and institutional records paint a vivid picture of a world in which both middle-class and working-class American Jewish women were consistently and publicly engaged in all the major issues of their day and worked closely with their non-Jewish counterparts on behalf of activist causes. The book makes a unique contribution to the study of modern women's history, modern Jewish history, and the history of American social movements.


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Keywords: political activism , social activism , American Jewish women , birth control , suffrage , peace movements , modern women's history , modern Jewish history , American social movements. Forgot password?

Vision Lecture Series--Ballots, Babies, and Banners of Peace: American Jew

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    Where it comes out the most obviously and tragically in the peace movement is in the lead up to World War II. Jewish women found that Hitler and Nazism presented a particular threat to Jews and Judaism, but peace activists they had been working with around the world categorically refused to acknowledge that there was something special about this. In some cases, the way they expressed themselves can only be described as anti-Semitic. For many Jewish women, this was a terrible moment.

    They felt betrayed. What does it say that the three issues you address—voting, birth control and peace—are still highly contested issues today, more than a century later? People today can see themselves as links in the chain. Ballots, Babies, and Banners of Peace is among several new releases about the experience of Jewish women.

    Moment senior editor Eileen Lavine shares her thoughts on two more. Fanny von Arnstein: Daughter of the Enlightenment was published in in German, written by Hilde Spiel, an Austrian Jewish writer, and has now been issued in English for the first time. It is a biography of the daughter of the Jewish master of the royal mint in Berlin who married a financier to the Austro-Hungarian imperial court, the first unconverted Jew in Austria to be granted the title of baron.

    Speil describes in detail the period of the Enlightenment in the third quarter of the 18th century when Jews were able to become a part of Christian society. Fanny became a popular hostess attracting politicians, the nobility and the intelligentsia to her glamorous drawing room. Spiel shows how the climate worsened under Frederick the Great, as a new wave of anti-Semitism broke out in Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance by Carla Kaplan describes the small group of women who became patrons of the Harlem Renaissance but rarely received any recognition or acknowledgement.

    Their label of Miss Anne was often one of derision by blacks and whites. Fannie Hurst, the daughter of assimilated Midwestern Jews, was the highest-paid writer in the United States in the s, and worked closely with African American social organizations. She too took Hurston under her wing and adapted a story Hurston told her into what became a bestselling book and movie, Imitation of Life , which concentrated on racial passing.

    Kaplan details how Meyer and the other Miss Anne women were ostracized from their communities by helping blacks. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Search for:. No Comments. Post A Comment Cancel Reply.