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"Diving into the Wreck": Binding Oneself to Judaism in Contemporary Jewish Women's Fiction

Judith Lewin
Shofar
Vol. 26, No. 3 (Spring 2008), pp. 48-67
Published by: Purdue University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42944749
Page Count: 20
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"Diving into the Wreck": Binding Oneself to Judaism in Contemporary Jewish Women's Fiction
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Abstract

This essay examines two contemporary first novels by Jewish women in relation to Allegra Goodman as a model for depicting religious practice sympathetically. I argue that Goodman (Kaaterskill Falls), Dara Horn (In the Image) and Ruchama King (Seven Blessings) portray religion, spirituality, and religious learning as integral to women's lives. This focus contrasts with writers who portray the transition toward secularity, anxious relations toward being a Jew, or the struggle to assimilate in other, perhaps prior, strands of Jewish writing. I offer contextualized close readings of the negotiation between the religious and the secular focused on the gendered symbols of water and tefillin and the fraught relation between women's bodies and their minds.

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