The Rebellion of the Daughters investigates the flight of young Jewish women from their Orthodox, mostly Hasidic, homes in Western Galicia (now Poland) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In extreme cases, hundreds of these women sought refuge in a Kraków convent, where many converted to Catholicism. Those who stayed home often remained Jewish in name only.
Relying on a wealth of archival documents, including court testimonies, letters, diaries, and press reports, Rachel Manekin reconstructs the stories of three Jewish women runaways and reveals their struggles and innermost convictions. Unlike Orthodox Jewish boys, who attended “cheders,” traditional schools where only Jewish subjects were taught, Orthodox Jewish girls were sent to Polish primary schools. When the time came for them to marry, many young women rebelled against the marriages arranged by their parents, with some wishing to pursue secondary and university education. After World War I, the crisis of the rebellious daughters in Kraków spurred the introduction of formal religious education for young Orthodox Jewish women in Poland, which later developed into a worldwide educational movement. Manekin chronicles the belated Orthodox response and argues that these educational innovations not only kept Orthodox Jewish women within the fold but also foreclosed their opportunities for higher education.
Exploring the estrangement of young Jewish women from traditional Judaism in Habsburg Galicia at the turn of the twentieth century, The Rebellion of the Daughters brings to light a forgotten yet significant episode in Eastern European history.
Awards and Recognition
- Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in Women’s Studies