American Jewish Women and the Zionist Enterprise

Shulamit Reinharz and Mark A. Raider

Despite a historical record that shows sustained involvement of American Jewish women with early Zionism and Palestine, this topic has received scant scholarly attention. A major contribution to Zionist history, women’s history, and American history, American Jewish Women and Zionism offers a much needed clarification to the historical record. Divided thematically, American Jewish Women deals with representative figures, events, and themes of the pre-state era. The essays in the book have three different foci: Several are concerned with significant personalities, such as Golda Meir, Marie Syrkin, Emma Lazarus, and Henrietta Szold, while others are concerned with the pivotal role played by American Zionist women’s organizations including Hadassah, the Pioneer Women’s Organization (later Naamat), the Mizrachi Women’s Organization (later Amit Women), and others. The remaining essays address broad themes and reveal the multidimensionality of the relationship of American Jewish women and Zionism, which includes agricultural and vocational training, religion, ideology, geography, and feminism and femininity. American Jewish Women and Zionism also includes several eyewitness documents and personal testimonies. No less significant than the corpus of memoirs and literature produced by male Zionist leaders, such data throws light on hitherto neglected facets of American Jewish and Zionist history, including the variety of roles played by Zionist women and their self-awareness as participants in one of the most dramatic and consequential episodes in the history of Jewish civilization. The volume includes a glossary of terms, a map of the principal locations referred to in the text, illustrations, and a timeline of American Jewish women and their relationship to Zionism. Each section opens with a prefactory note that places the essays in historical context. It concludes with a bibliographic note and suggestions for further readings.

Paper: $35
ISBN-13: 9781584654391
Pages: 456 | Size: 6 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: December 21, 2004

Shulamit Reinharz and Mark Raider’s magnificent study… challenges us to understand how faith in Zionism and in the American dream nourished and changed both projects.

Israel Studies


  • Anyone interested in the significant role of women and Zionism should definitely find this book a must read.

    The National Jewish Post & Opinion
  • The organizations that women created as an expression of their goal are deftly analyzed. There is valuable and intriguing material here which calls for the attention of scholars in the fields of American history, women's history, feminism, and Zionism.

    Jewish Book World
  • Shulamit Reinharz and Mark Raider's magnificent study... challenges us to understand how faith in Zionism and in the American dream nourished and changed both projects. This is a story not of ideologies or, for the most part, of ideologues, but rather of the creators of a new tradition. The essays in this collection bring some of the leaders of Hadassah, Pioneer Women, and of Mizrahi beautifully to life and show how a dedication to the Zionist cause deepened a commitment to American values, and enlarged the Zionist perspective, to preserve a set of liberal principles reaching across the ethnic and national divide in Palestine... In this book Reinharz and Raider assemble essays that chart the rich profusion of movements, institutions, and activities — including aliyah — that Zionism inspired in Jewish women living in the United States.

    Israel Studies

About the Author

Shulamit Reinharz

Dr. Shulamit Reinharz is the Potofsky Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University, where she serves as founding director of both the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and the Women’s Studies Research Center. She is coauthor of The JGuy’s Guide: The GPS for Jewish Teen Guys and The JGirl’s Guide: The Young Jewish Women’s Handbook for coming of Age (both Jewish Lights).

Mark A. Raider

Mark A. Raider is Professor of Modern Jewish History in the Department of History (College of Arts & Sciences) and Director of the Center for Studies in Jewish Education and Culture (College of Education). He is past President of the University’s Academy of Fellows for Teaching and Learning. He serves as Visiting Professor of American Jewish History at the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Dr. Raider earned his BA at the University of California, …