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The Professor and the Activist

Shivah Stars

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Professor Paula E. Hyman.(Michael Marsland/Yale University/NYT)

Each week, we select the most interesting Jewish obituary. This week’s is that of Paula E. Hyman, the prominent Jewish feminist (as in, not just Jewish and feminist, but Jewish-feminist) who died last week at 65. What is remarkable is how at home she seemed on both sides of the line that divides scholarship and activism. She received a Ph.D., specializing in Jewish life in fin de siècle France; at the same time, she was organizing “consciousness raising” feminist discussion groups geared toward increasing women’s participation in Jewish life. In 1976, she co-authored a classic, zeitgeist-y history-from-the-ground-up study, The Jewish Woman in America; in 1981, she became the first woman dean of undergraduates at the Jewish Theological Seminary after lobbying for many years to get the Conservative movement to drop many Orthodox-derived restrictions on female participation. She is seminal in the field of scholarship, and she also effected real change in Jewish practice. Not too bad for a life cut tragically short.

Paula E. Hyman, Who Sought Rights for Women in Judaism, Dies at 65 [NYT]

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The Professor and the Activist

Shivah Stars

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