This comprehensive study of Jewish women in Imperial Germany (1871-1918) addresses the complex interrelationships of ethnicity, sex, and class. It examines the changing lives and roles of women who were part of an urbanizing, economically mobile, but socially spurned minority group, and also looks at their relationship with the rest of society. The author identifies German-Jewish women's 'double burden' as females - discriminated against in both German and Jewish traditions - and as Jews - objects of the increasing anti-Semitism of their era. She also points out the ambiguous, often contradictory role that Jewish women played: they were powerful agents of acculturation, encouraging their families to adapt outwardly to German customs and norms, and also determined upholders of tradition, maintaining family rituals, kin networks, and Jewish communal organizations.
"A fascinating reconceptualization of German-Jewish history which is both fact-filled and scholarly as well as eminently readable."--Lilith
"This exciting new social history of Jewish women in Wilhelmine Germany constitutes a pathbreaking contribution...Kaplan's highly original study...significantly deepens our understanding of Jewish history, women's history, and German history...Dramatically reshapes the way we understand the German-Jewish past."--American Historical Review
"In her earlier work on German Jewish woman, Marion Kaplan ventured to attack tricky, emotion-laden subjects without the usual preconceptions and with impeccable scholarship. Now, in broadening her canvas, she once again sheds far more light than heat, and her readers have good reason to be grateful."--Peter Gay, Yale University
"Exceptional achievement...Careful and imaginative use of sources...Her extraordinary range of sources includes memoirs, cookbooks, newspapers, novels, oral interviews, as well as economic and sociological statistics....Especially impressive is the author's keen insight into the complex and often contradictory ways in which class, gender, and ethnicity intersected in the lives of German-Jewish women."--Report of the Biennial Book Prize Committee
"Kaplan's richly detailed The Making of the Jewish Middle Class eloquently explores the multiple and contradictory intersections of women's, Jewish, and German history in the Inperial era...Marvelous book."--Journal of Women's History
"In this superb book, Marion Kaplan argues convincingly that the making of a German Jewish middle class in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century took place at home as much as it did at work, in private as much as in public; it was the work of women and men."--German Politics and Society
"Kaplan brings together important material from the fields of German history, women's history and Jewish history. Using sources which range from demographic and occupational statistics to organizational records and newsletters to prescriptive literature and personal memoirs, Kaplan charts a fascinating process of class building and identity construction among German Jewish bourgeois culture."--Labor History