Pioneers and Homemakers

Jewish Women in Pre-State Israel

Edited by Deborah S. Bernstein

Subjects: Israel Studies
Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies
Paperback : 9780791409060, 324 pages, July 1992
Hardcover : 9780791409053, 324 pages, July 1992

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents




Part I. Between Tradition and Change

1. Through the Eyes of a Settler's Wife: Letters from the Moshava
Ran Aaronsohn

2. Literature by Women of the First Aliyah: The Aspiration for Women's Renaissance in Eretz Israel
Yaffa Berlovitz

3. Yemenite Jewish Women—Between Tradition and Change
Nitza Druyan

Part II. Women of the Labor Movement

4. Manya Wilbushewitz-Shohat and the Winding Road to Sejera
Shulamit Reinharz

5. The Women's Farm at Kinneret, 1911–1917: A Solution to the Problem of the Working Woman in the Second Aliyah
Margalit Shilo

6. Fragments of Life: From the Diaries of Two Young Women
Deborah S. Bernstein and Musia Lipman

7. A Woman Alone: The Artist Ira Jan as Writer in Eretz Yisrael
Nurit Govrin

8. The Women Workers' Movement: First Wave Feminism in Pre-State Israel
Dafna N. Izraeli

9. From Revolution to Motherhood: The Case of Women in the Kibbutz, 1910–1948
Sylvie Fogiel-Bijaoui

10. Human Being or Housewife: The Status of Women in the Jewish Working Class Family in Palestine of the 1920s and 1930s
Deborah S. Bernstein

Part III. Women's Rights, Women's Spheres

11. On the Way to Equality? The Struggle for Women's Suffrage in the Jewish Yishuv , 1917–1926
Sylvie Fogiel-Bijaoui

12. The Fringes of the Margin: Women's Organizations in the Civic Sector of the Yishuv
Hanna Herzog




This book deals with the experience and action of Jewish women in the new Jewish settlement in Palestine (the Yishuv) during the period of Zionist immigration to Palestine, from the last two decades of the nineteenth century until 1948. The wide range of topics concern the experience of East European immigrant women as well as that of traditional Yemenite women, the creative and radical action of the socialist pioneers of the labor movement as well as the liberal feminism of the middle-class women. Though based on scholarly research, this book brings forth women's voices through their private and public writing.

Deborah S. Bernstein is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Haifa.


"It is a revisionary book which debunks a lot of the myths which have been attached to Zionism, and which graphically demonstrates, as well, the ways the experiences and contributions of women have been sidelined both by the Zionist male leadership and by historians of the movement up to now. The topic is both extremely significant in itself — this is truly a pioneering and important work — and central, as well, to several important fields of study including Women's Studies, Israel Studies, and Jewish Women's History. " — Judith R. Baskin, State University of New York at Albany

"I am most impressed with the gap which this book fills in the understanding of modern Jewish history, the development of Israeli society, and the role of women in contemporary life. It brings to light significant events and analyzes the lives of women in a way that offers a new lens on the intersection of Jewish identity, feminism, and modern Zionism. " — Hannah Kliger, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

"A forgotten group in an important era are written about virtually for the first time in a way accessible to the American reader. It fills a lacuna in our knowledge and provides English translations of good work hitherto not available to non-Hebrew speakers. " — Rela Geffen, Gratz College