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Jewish women in the United States: A qualitative study of their Ashkenazi secular identity and experiences of anti-Semitism

By Freda Ruth Ginsberg, Michigan State University and advisor Linda Forrest


This study examined the unique nature of Jewish women's identity and their experiences of anti-Semitism. Twelve Jewish women were recruited for participation in the study from a Mid-Western city in the United States based on their self-identifying as Ashkenazi, secular, and over thirty years of age. The study utilized a Jewish feminist epistemology to inform its qualitative integrative methodology. (Sinacore, in progress) Mechanisms were put in place to address the researcher's reflexive stance and subjective frame, thus, creating the researcher's data. The participant data were gathered using a structured interview format (Denzin & Lincoln, 1994). Both the participants' and researcher's data were analyzed for recursive themes and sub-themes (Dey, 1993). The primary findings of this study were that Jewish women's identity was complex and multi-faceted. Jewish women's identity was informed by multiple sources and was fundamental to how they understood themselves and the world. Jewish women played a unique role in the Jewish culture and religion, and experienced gender bias and sexism in traditional Judaism. Jewish women were directly affected by both covert and overt anti-Semitism, and made decisions about how to behave based on these experiences. Jewish women were directly affected by the events of the Holocaust and construct their Jewish identity, in part, based on these events.Thesis (Ph.D.)--Michigan State University, 2002.School code: 0128

Topics: Women's Studies, Ashkenazim, Antisemitism, Jewish women, Jews
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