By Jennifer Stollman
Daughters of Israel, Daughters of the South examines southern Jewish womanhood throughout the Antebellum and Civil warfare eras. In an overwhelmingly Protestant South, Jewish girls created and maintained specified American Jewish identities via their efforts in schooling, writing, spiritual observance, paid and unpaid exertions, and relationships with Christian whites and enslaved African-Americans. This booklet examines how southern Jewish ladies fought proselytization via their spiritual convictions, challenged anti-Semitism utilizing private and non-private writing, maintained a particular southern Judaism, promoted their very own prestige and legitimacy as southerners, and labored diligently as accomplice ambassadors.
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Extra info for Daughters of Israel, Daughters of the South: Southern Jewish Women and Identity in the Antebellum and Civil War South
53 Many of them found that observing the Sabbath by shutting down their stores and not trading money for services was financially impossible. Scholars have incorrectly judged that such conditions led to a gradual rejection of Jewish practice and Sabbath observance. A survey of their private writings reveals that southern Jewish women struggled within their homes to appropriately observe the Sabbath. They devised private and non-traditional methods to commemorate the sanctity of the day. Some simply noted the date in their diaries.
They devised private and non-traditional methods to commemorate the sanctity of the day. Some simply noted the date in their diaries. Others were more forthright in their observances by substantially altering their daily routines. Though these women were aware of how difficult it was to observe the Sabbath, they also knew that Sabbath observance was 53 Blau, “The Spiritual Life of American Jewry,” 99-170. 49 Chapter One 50 crucial. Therefore, they decided to modify religious customs to make it more relevant to their lives.
49 The phrase “God of my Fathers” is a traditional lead-in sentence to several prayers within the Jewish service. Mordecai’s usage of this phrase and invoking of God’s help during the war represented another way that southern Jewish women demonstrated their faith in Judaism. Curiously, as the war continued southern white Protestants began to make analogies between the Confederate South and the “chosen” Israelite nation. This mingling of religious discourse and the current situation served as both an effective galvanizing mechanism to encourage southern support for its existing social and economic systems and perhaps as a pathway toward southern Gentile acceptance of Jews.