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Date: Tuesday 12 November 2013
Time: Galleries open from 6pm; talk 7pm.
Price: Free with standard Museum admission; priority booking for higher level Friends. Advance booking recommended.
In the early twentieth century, the women’s suffrage issue convulsed British politics. As the campaign for women’s votes escalated, passions exploded in window-smashing, police brutality, hunger strikes and forced feedings. Some well-to-do Jewish women joined the struggle and historians have taken note of this. Changes in the status and roles of Jewish women, however, came in quieter ways as well. While the battle for the franchise was raging, Jewish women, often drawn from the same social milieu as those who embraced political militancy, pioneered new roles in religion, culture, and scholarship. These women were not seeking to overturn the social and political status quo, but their active participation in spheres of activity that were historically masculine made them, in effect, rebels, even if that was not their intent. Among them were the novelist Ada Leverson (1862-1933), the educator Henrietta Franklin (1867-1964), the religious reformer Lily Montagu (1873-1963), and the Hebraist Nina Salaman (1877-1925). Their backgrounds were similar but the paths they chose were dissimilar, as were their Jewish commitments. This lecture will explore the hows and whys of their surreptitious rebellion against the conventions of their time.
Todd M. Endelman is Professor Emeritus of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of The Jews of Georgian England: Tradition and Change in a Liberal Society, 1714-1830; Radical Assimilation in Anglo-Jewish History, 1656-1945; The Jews of Britain, 1656-2000; and Broadening Jewish History: Towards a Social History of Ordinary Jews. His most recent book, Leaving the Jewish Fold: Conversion and Radical Assimilation in Europe and America from the Enlightenment to the Present will be published by Princeton University Press in 2014. He is currently a visiting fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.