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Relational Identity: The Formation and Expression of Raced and Gendered Modern North American Jewish Identity

Tue, December 18, 8:30 to 10:00am, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Harborview 3 Ballroom

Session Submission Type: Panel Session

Abstract

These papers explore the relational aspect of women’s participation in Jewish community and identity formation as shaped through real and imagined relationships. Rachel Kranson explores the mobilization of Jewish feminist understandings and relational ownership of the Holocaust in crafting their response to the anti-abortion movement’s comparisons, metaphoric and otherwise, of the Holocaust to the legal right of abortion. She will analyze the public responses of American Jewish leaders to the anti-abortion movement’s adoption of Holocaust imagery. Samira Mehta articulates the strains of Jewish identities that mothers in interfaith marriages transmit to their children. These households, be they interfaith, conversionary, or adoptive are all interested in nurturing a relationship between the child and Asian culture. The mother, be she the Asian parent or not, is often the one who will take responsibility for this relationship. This maternal responsibility is based on the need for the child to have an “authentic” Jewish identity and a meaningful relationship to Asianness, be it real or imagined. Adrienne Krone examines the relationships between leaders in the contemporary Jewish Community Farming movement and how they are affected by the relational goals set by individual organizations within the movement. Ethnographic interviews collected at farms in Toronto and Boulder, CO will be used to show that women in leadership roles prioritize relationships with other organizations, land, and non-human animals, which distinguishes their organizations from those led by men and causes tensions in the movement about what leadership can and should look like. This panel will illuminate the relationships that Jewish women build and how their Jewish and gender identities shape and are shaped by those relationships.

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