Moth­ers in the Jew­ish Cul­tur­al Imagination

Jane L. Kanarek, Mar­jorie Lehman,‎ Simon J Bron­ner, eds.
  • From the Publisher
January 2, 2018

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.

Discussion Questions