Marla Brettschneider Recent Publications

Marla Brettschneider Recent Publications
2023 book cover

Jewish Lesbian Scholarship in a Time of Change. Routledge. 2023.

An innovative contribution to Jewish studies, lesbian and queer studies, gender studies, as well as to racial and cultural diversity studies.

Once a vibrant field, few works in Jewish queer studies in recent years have looked at the experiences of, and scholarship on, Jewish women, feminists, and those identified as lesbians. Correcting a twenty-first century shift away from explicitly feminist investigations in Jewish queer and LBGTQ+ studies, this work signals a new trend of scholarly works in the field. The chapters span an array of genres, presenting the rich diversity of Jewish lesbians as they are, as well as of Jewish lesbian scholarship today.

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“Jewish Lesbians: Contemporary Activism and Its Challenges.” Jewish and Women’s History from Antiquity to the Present. Wayne State University Press. 2021.

An exploration of how gender plays a role in Jewish women’s religious, cultural, and social history.

Jewish Women's History from Antiquity to the Present is broad in geographical scope exploring Jewish women's lives in what is now Eastern and Western Europe, Britain, Israel, Turkey, North Africa, and North America, focusing on reconstructing the experiences of ordinary women and situating those of the extraordinary and famous within the gender systems of their times and places. The twenty-one contributors analyze the history of Jewish women in the light of gender as religious, cultural, and social construct. They apply new methodologies in approaching rabbinic sources, prescriptive literature, and musar (ethics), interrogating them about female roles in the biblical and rabbinic imaginations, and in relation to women's restrictions and quotidian actions on the ground. They explore Jewish's women experiences of persecution, displacement, immigration, integration, and social mobility from the medieval age through the nineteenth century. And for the modern era, this volume assesses women's spiritual developments; how they experienced changes in religious and political societies, both Jewish and non-Jewish; the history of women in the Holocaust, their struggle through persecution and deportation; women's everyday concerns, Jewish lesbian activism, and the spiritual sphere in the contemporary era. Contributors reinterpret rabbinical responsa through new lenses and study a plethora of unpublished and previously unknown archival sources, such as community ordinances and court records, alongside autobiographies, letters, poetry, narrative prose, devotional objects, the built environment, illuminated manuscripts, and early printed books. This publication is significant within the field of Jewish studies and beyond; the essays include comparative material and have the potential to reach scholarly audiences in many related fields but are also written to be accessible to all, with the introductions in every chapter aimed at orienting the enthusiast from outside academia to each time and place.

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“Leslie Feinberg.” Liberating Gender for Jews and Allies: The Wisdom of Transkeit. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2022.

An extraordinary collection of essays by trans Jews and allies explores cutting-edge ideas about gender through the lenses of tradition, art, autobiography, and solidarity.

This book offers analyses of Biblical and Rabbinic thinking, sample rituals, guidance on Jewish practice, spoken word poetry, music, trans Jewish history, psychology, and personal stories. The contributors to this volume are richly diverse and include transpioneer Kate Bornstein, a drag queen rabbi, Jews by Choice, Jews of Color, the Jewish consultant to the show Transparent, Orthodox Jews, a Jewish priestess, and a Metropolitan Community Church minister. Each page reveals startling, fresh insights into the construction and disruption of gender from a Jewish perspective.

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The Hidden Jews of Ethiopia. Edwin Mellen Press. 2022.

In a land where anti-Semitism lives, a Jewish community fights to survive in Ethiopia.

This book presents scholarly material introducing the world to the little-known, extraordinary, and persistent Jewish communities remaining in Ethiopia as the First Temple Beta Israel Jewish Communities of Kechene and Semien Shewa. Some segments of the historic Jewish communities in Ethiopia were introduced on the world stage in the 1980s with dramatic airlifts to Israel. However, there remains a network of still largely hidden Jewish communities in Ethiopia practicing their traditions, surviving amidst intense local forms of anti-Jewishness, and struggling for recognition as legitimate Jewish communities. This publication offers their story to the world.

“Emma Goldman.” Oxford Bibliographies in Jewish Studies. 2021.

A dedication to Emma Goldman, radical feminist, Jewish activist, and “the most dangerous anarchist in America.”

Both in the United States and internationally, the anarchist Emma Goldman earned a reputation as a prominent Jewish radical feminist. Goldman became a household name at a time when that was extremely rare for a woman. Anarchism and Emma Goldman played a significant role in US politics around the turn into the 20th century, as they were also key for the development of US Jewish life, feminism, and the Left more generally. Like most Jews in the United States, even in her day, Goldman was secular and identifiably Jewish culturally. She was concerned about the potential statism of Zionism, but at the time most Jews in the United States and globally, of all political stripes, were similarly not Zionist. She also never hesitated to offer apt critiques of Jews whose politics differed from hers. Identified as “the most dangerous anarchist in America” of her day and a most dangerous woman, she was accused of terrorism for her political ideals and activism in a way that foreshadowed the ensuing century of US elites targeting justice workers by calling them terrorists. More broadly for Jews and Jewish studies, anarchist theory and what that meant for this Jewish feminist activist and thinker are among the best frames for understanding Jewish life without a central authority structure, and particularly in the diasporic context.

“Judith Tannenbaum Shuval.” Jewish Women’s Archive. 2021.

A dedication to Judith Tannenbaum Shuval, leading scholar in Israel’s health and soiciology fields.

Judith Tannenbaum Shuval is one of the main scholars in the field of sociology of health in Israel. Born in New York, she received her PhD in sociology from Harvard University. After making aliya to Israel in 1949, she worked at the Israel Institute of Applied Social Research and served as adviser on immigrant absorption for UNESCO before joining the faculty of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The author of many books, she received the Israel Prize for social sciences in 1965 and Hadassah’s Henrietta Szold Award in 1995.