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Historiography As Cultural Identity: Toward A Jewish History Beyond National History

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Chapter Summary

The fruitful ways that feminist theory can complicate data about women and destabilize empiricist research can be illustrated by several examples. This chapter suggests a few ways in which feminist theory can contribute to the study of Jewish history. In the modern era, the feminist movement has encouraged women to take on the Talmudic- regulated religious male roles to assure equality, which simply reinforces the equation of Jewishness with men; women become men to be Jews. Religious Jewishness seems to demand agency, the fulfillment of all legal imperatives incumbent upon men, and historians might ask whether a more complex understanding of agency could be developed that would permit a coexistence of a multiplicity of motivations as well as consequences. The theoretical questions posed by feminist theorists create new possibilities for scholarly inquiry, and for the shaping of Jewish identity.

Keywords: feminist theory; Jewish history; Jewish identity; religious jewishness



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