The ‘Jewish mother’ figure is a hallmark of Jewish culture, one which appears in the works of rabbis, artists, poets, and activists across time and place. While depictions of mothers and motherhood abound in Jewish writings, they vary significantly according to social context. These representations therefore offer important insights into the Jewish cultural imagination, and the ways in which writers resort to the figure of the Jewish mother to comprehend and construct their world.
The contributors to this volume highlight the complex network of symbols and images associated with Jewish mothers and motherhood as well as the vast array of social, historical, and cultural patterns that characterizations of mothers reflect. Each essay treats the topic from a specific perspective, spanning from mother – daughter relationships in the Talmud to depictions of mothers in twentieth-century American Jewish children’s literature. Collectively, they present a provocative examination of the ways mothers shape and problematize Jewish identity.
This volume seeks to give the figure of the mother a new and enhanced place at the heart of Judaism: not only as a central figure in family life, but also as a key agent in the transmission of Jewish religion and culture.