Review by Choice Review
Baker's welcome study explores the experiences of American and British Jewish women. Baker considers the sometimes surprising shared experiences and attitudes of women from "secular," Reform, Orthodox, and other backgrounds, as well as the different attitudes and experiences of women from Sephardic and Ashkenazic communities. The presentation of cross-cultural material is inconsistent. Baker acknowledges some influences (e.g., Christianity's contribution to ending Jewish polygamy), but misses important parallels and patterns. For example, in discussing menstrual taboos, she dismisses pre-Judaic cultures as "primitive" and implies that Jewish women's positive feelings are unique. If there is a continuing theme, it is that more work is needed to reconcile the experiences that are common to women across the spectrum of Jewish practice. Baker has accumulated important new data. However, her inherently comparative research cries out for an analytical framework. The book bogs down in cultural particulars and skimps on synthesis. All levels. V. Alia; University of Western Ontario
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.