In celebration of Jewish American History Month, we’ll be highlighting some of our books that explore the Jewish American experience and celebrate the historical, cultural, and political achievements of Jewish Americans in American society. Below, we are pleased to present the latest in our ASP Abridged blog series, in which authors give readers a short and sweet introduction to their latest book, with an added question about the Jewish American experience in honor of JAHM. In this entry, Sara Reguer introduces us to her book Opinionated: The World View of a Jewish Woman, which was published in 2017 and comprises a collection of essays that provide a sweeping overview of Jewish life and culture as viewed through the eyes of an academic who is also a woman, equally at home in the real world and the ivory tower.
Tell us what Opinionated is about in simple terms.
This book is a reprint of some of the bi-weekly columns written over two decades for The Jewish Press, a popular weekly geared to an Orthodox Jewish audience. It is divided into sections on history, Biblical women, Jewish women in history, Holocaust Studies, Reviews Jewish law and custom, Italian Jews, and, finally “Opinion”. In other words, the book covers a huge array of topics.
Why does it matter? Why is it important?
The collection provides a sweeping overview of Jewish life and culture seen through the eyes of an academic but communicated to a lay audience. Using a writing style that is informative and inspiring, poignant and passionate, infused with personal insight and anecdotes, the author accomplishes this.
In what ways does your book shed light on the Jewish American experience or Jewish American culture/history/ politics?
There are columns that address American Jewish history and culture. For example, how Jews giving charity over the millennia turned into philanthropy in America. There are columns that address problems for women and Jewish law and how in American steps are being taken to address such issues such as prenuptial agreements to prevent the modern aguna (‘anchored’) who cannot initiate a Jewish divorce from a recalcitrant husband. Jewish education in America, the danger of cults such as Jews for Jesus, ‘Jewish’ food in America, the high cost of Jewish education, stereotypes of the American Jewish woman are also topics for some columns. And, of course, the perspective is always that of an American Jewish woman.
Sara Reguer is Professor of History in the Department of Judaic Studies at Brooklyn College. She earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University in Middle East history. She has published on a variety of topics, both scholarly and popular, including articles on Winston Churchill during World War I. She currently lives in New York, NY. Her most recent book from ASP is Winston S. Churchill and the Shaping of the Middle East, 1919-1922.
Opinionated: The World View of a Jewish Woman is available for purchase here or wherever you buy books.