March 2016

Topic of the Week: HBI Translation Series

March 11, 2016

Chana Maisel: Agricultural Training for Women by Esther Carmel Hakim, the latest electronic publication in the HBI Translation Series, offers an overview of the project of agricultural training for women in the land of Israel, the lifework of Chana Maisel Shochat.

Maisel – unlike many of her contemporaries – understood that the settlement of the land of Israel depended on the establishment and development of Jewish villages. The ongoing success of the latter, in turn, depended on the presence of the trained woman agricultural worker, able to establish and maintain a household farm, while simultaneously running a home.

The Zionist endeavor, the immigration of masses of Jews to the land of Israel, Maisel understood as a geographical, economic, cultural and gender revolution. She concluded that agricultural training for women was vital if women were to play a central role in the realization of the Zionist ideal at the beginning of the twentieth century.

This book reveals Chana Maisel’s contribution to the development of special ties between the women workers of the Second Wave of immigration and women’s organizations in the Diaspora. Her success resulted from her awareness of the common interests of Zionist women from Western Europe and North America – who provided financial support – and the vision and enthusiasm of pioneering women from eastern Europe.

Maisel’s unique contribution lies in the creation of institutions for training women in agriculture. These frameworks were based on models created in Europe and the United States during the period of first-wave feminism. Such models created the image of the new Jewish woman: an agricultural worker who does not challenge male hegemony in the traditional agricultural fields of sowing and reaping, but rather develops and takes part in those household agricultural fields in which women traditionally engaged in European villages: vegetable gardens, fruit trees, raising household animals – performing work which could be combined with running a household. The struggle of these woman to free themselves from exclusively engaging in household work – which had been the case until Maisel’s time – was the beginning of feminism in the land of Israel.

Born in Russia in 1883, Maisel studied agriculture in Switzerland and science in France before her immigration to Israel as a pioneer, lacking any financial means, in 1909. Thanks to her studies in Europe, she was able to make contact with Zionist women’s organizations in Europe and North America. Her knowledge, experience and abilities enabled her to bring her vision to fruition: the establishment of frameworks for women’s agricultural training.

I should like to thank HBI for its generous contribution towards translating and publishing this book in English. Zanefa Walsh, HBI communications coordinator, completed the design and layout of the ebook, which is available on the Brandeis Institutional Repository.

Esther Carmel Hakim
Kibbutz Ramat Hashofet


Topic of the Week: HBI Series on Jewish Women

March 4, 2016

Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution

How do young women and men feel about sex, love, and marriage? Who gets married—and when? How do couples—and individuals—decide about children? What are the changing faces of modern Jewish families—and what do diverse families mean for American Jewish life today? How do legal systems—Jewish and civic—respond to these transformations?

These are the topics explored in a groundbreaking new book, Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution.Edited by Professor Sylvia Barack Fishman, Love Marriage and Jewish Families presents research by 14 American and Israeli social historians and legal scholars who study transformations in the intimate realms of partnering and family construction among Jews. Their work reveals the complex and diverse ways that Jews in the U.S. and Israel are reshaping dating, marriage and family life–with some surprising consequences.  It is the newest book in the HBI Series on Jewish Women, Brandeis University Press.

Chapters explore what once were considered unconventional household arrangements—including extended singlehood, cohabitating couples, single Jewish mothers, and LGBTQ families—along with the legal ramifications and religious backlash. Together, these essays demonstrate how changes in the understanding of male and female roles and expectations over the past few decades have contributed to a social revolution with profound—and paradoxical—effects on partnering, marriage, and family formation.

Special Event
Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution
A panel discussion with editor, Sylvia Barack Fishman and authors
Sunday, March 20, 2016, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m
Rapoporte Treasure Hall, Goldfarb Library | Brandeis University | 415 South St., Waltham, MA
Free and open to the public,