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DEBORAH, GOLDA, AND ME by Letty Cottin Pogrebin


Being Female and Jewish in America

by Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-517-57517-5
Publisher: Crown

 Expressly following the feminist dictum that ``the personal is political,'' Pogrebin (Among Friends, 1986; Family Politics, 1983, etc.), a founding editor of Ms. magazine, mixes memoir with reportage to chart her dual commitment to Judaism and feminism. In four closely interwoven sections, the author traces her development from childhood in a religiously observant family through adult rediscovery of spiritual identity and subsequent efforts to reconcile Judaism with feminism in both the religious and secular realms, and on to her present determination ``to live life with a feminist head and a Jewish heart.'' Finding herself ``frayed and frazzled as both a Jew in the women's movement and as a feminist in Judaism,'' Pogrebin lays claim to a ``middle ground.'' To her credit, she doesn't skirt the tough issues--how to blend an often explicitly patriarchal religion with feminist beliefs; the problem of anti-Semitism in the women's movement; the breakdown in black-Jewish relations; the seemingly intractable Palestinian question--but this very inclusiveness gives the book a choppy feel, too much like a pieced-together collection of magazine articles (which some of the chapters were). We get Jewish feminist efforts to make ritual more relevant; an analysis of movie stereotypes; accounts of attempts at black-Jewish and Palestinian- Jewish feminist dialogues. Then there's an intimate disclosure of family secrets, up through the author's college days, at which point Pogrebin abruptly clamps down on confession, confining her reports of soul-searching to the activist spheres. An odd hybrid in which the personal and political awkwardly jostle one another and tend to get hopelessly mixed up in the fray.