Enforced Marginality: Jewish Narratives on Abandoned Wives
This illuminating study explores a central but neglected aspect of modern Jewish history: the problem of abandoned Jewish wives, or agunes ("chained wives")—women who under Jewish law could not obtain a divorce—and of the men who deserted them. Looking at seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Germany and then late nineteenth-century eastern Europe and twentieth-century United States, Enforced Marginality explores representations of abandoned wives while tracing the demographic movements of Jews in the West. Bluma Goldstein analyzes a range of texts (in Old Yiddish, German, Yiddish, and English) at the intersection of disciplines (history, literature, sociology, and gender studies) to describe the dynamics of power between men and women within traditional communities and to elucidate the full spectrum of experiences abandoned women faced.
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abandoned wives Abraham adventurer Agunah agune Altona America appears Autobiography azoy behavior Benjamin the Third Bernfeld bintl briv brivnshteler century child cultural difﬁcult disappearance divorce Eastern European editor Enlightenment epistolary epistolary novel Family Location Service father fear Feilchenfeld feminized ﬁgure ﬁnal ﬁnally ﬁnancial ﬁnd ﬁrst Forverts Gallery of Vanished gender German Glikl’s halakhic Halkin Hamburg Hameln Hekscher’s identiﬁed impoverished Jewish community Jewish law Jews Judaism Kahana keyn Lebensgeschichte letter living Lowenthal luftmentsh Maimon marriage married Masoes Menakhem Menakhem-Mendl Mendele Mendele Moykher Sforim mother murderer narrative National Desertion Bureau Neugroschel nisht novel Pappenheim patriarchal rabbis Rebekah reﬂected religious Salomon Maimons Senderl Sheyne Sheyne-Sheyndl shlimazl Shofar Sholem Aleykhem shtetl signiﬁcance social society speciﬁc Spiegel status story Talmud Tevye tion traditional Jewish translation Vanished Husbands victim wife wife’s wives and children woman women writing Yehupets Yiddish York zayn zikh