Wed, Feb 28
01:00PM ET
Wed, Feb 28
01:00PM ET

lecture

East European Jewish Women in Their Quest for a Dowry in the First Half of the Twentieth Century - Live on Zoom

Late nineteenth-century East European Jewry witnessed how various modernizing forces affected the most intimate spheres of Jewish life – family, sexuality, and household – and reconfigured women’s roles. Scholars have conventionally associated modernization with a shift from earlier and arranged unions toward later romantic marriages. Indeed, Jewish women increasingly attended secular high schools and universities, engaged in political, social, and cultural endeavors, took up gainful employment, and migrated. Yet, the economic reality dictated the marriage market for the masses of Jewish women from the working poor, turning marriage into a financial tool to improve woman’s fate.

This talk by Aleksandra Jakubczak will illuminate the link between the changing economy and Jewish courtship and marriage by situating it within the broader context of Jewish women’s responses to the promise of modernization on the one hand and the economic challenges accompanying it on the other. The increasing economic hardship faced by East European Jews at the turn of the century pushed Jewish women into the labor market and migratory routes. However, for some women, gainful employment and mobility did not necessarily mean emancipation from the traditional Jewish structures that had shaped their lives. Drawing on Yiddish, Hebrew, and Polish newspapers, brochures, court cases, and police reports, this lecture will show how East European Jewish women used their gainful employment, including in the sex industry, and migration to strike a good marriage deal and not to live independent lives.

Ticket Info: Free; registration is required.


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lecture