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Week of March 12, 2012

Deborah Dash Moore to receive National Jewish Book Award


U-M historian Deborah Dash Moore will receive the National Jewish Book Award Wednesday at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan.

The awards ceremony, which starts at 8 p.m., is free and open to the public.

Dash Moore, who is the Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of History and director of the Jean & Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at LSA, is co-editor with Marion Kaplan of “Gender & Jewish History.” The volume won the award in the category of Anthologies and Collections.

The book builds on several decades of scholarship on the history of Jewish women, bringing together leading thinkers in the field. Published in honor of Paula Hyman, one of the founders of Jewish gender studies, its chapters deal with such topics as Jewish women’s creativity and spirituality, violence against women, and Jews’ reactions to persecution in the Holocaust.

In addition to editing the award-winning volume, Dash Moore authored a chapter titled “Walkers in the City: Young Jewish Women with Cameras.” The chapter highlights the contributions of Jewish female photographers in 1930s and 1940s New York City. “Women did not normally have a license to stare,” she writes, “but when they looked through a camera’s lens they could influence what they saw.” At a time when gender constrained the gaze of most women, Dash Moore observes, a camera gave women on the streets of New York leverage.

“What do we learn looking at these photographs from a distance of more than half a century?” Dash Moore asks. “We can see how even women who had little time to photograph … could give us lively, intimate and sensitive images of city life. They show us the Lower East Side as a complex working-class community, multi-ethnic, American, without a haze of nostalgia.

“These photographers present a vision of the city as accessible, varied, interconnected, a source of sensibility and value worthy of contemplation. Their photographs interpret a time and place, the particular textures of street life now gone. Looking at them lets us enter that world and appreciate what these photographers saw, thought, and felt.”



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