“What is the difference between a bookkeeper in the garment district and a Supreme Court justice?” Ruth Bader Ginsburg once asked, “One generation.”

On November 10, at the 30th David W. Belin Lecture in American Jewish Affairs, Pamela Nadell, Professor and Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender History at American University and author of America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today, winner of the 2019 National Jewish Book Award Book of the Year, will discuss American Jewish women and antisemitism. This event was originally scheduled for March 30, but was rescheduled and moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I finished writing America’s Jewish Women before our nation’s recent spate of antisemitic violence,” Nadell said.  “Reflecting from the vantage point of today on what I wrote then, I see the thread of antisemitism woven into my narrative.”  Antisemitism propelled Jewish women to take up their pens in protest, to picket five-and-dimes, and to stand united against the feminists who should have been their sisters.  It caused them pain as individuals and as mothers heartbroken over their children’s shattered dreams.  This year’s Belin Lecture will highlight this gendered encounter with antisemitism.   

Nadell is the author of Women Who Would be Rabbis: A History of Women’s Ordination, 1889–1985, which was a finalist for a National Jewish Book Award, and editor of American Jewish Women’s History: A Reader and co-editor of Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives. She is also a past president of the Association for Jewish Studies and a recipient of the American Jewish Historical Society’s Lee Max Friedman Award for distinguished service to the profession.

Writing a book with the scope of America’s Jewish Women presented exciting challenges, Nadell said. So many women “left legacies reverberating till this day.” Calling the book, “a welcome addition to the American historical canon,” the New York Times agreed that Nadell “creates an extremely readable portrait of Jewish women collectively realizing the potential to change their destiny.”

The David W. Belin Lecture in American Jewish Affairs was established at the University of Michigan in 1991 through a gift from the late David W. Belin, to provide an academic forum for the discussion of contemporary Jewish life in the United States. Previous speakers have included Deborah Lipstadt, Samuel Freedman, Ruth Messinger, and James Loeffler. Each lecture is subsequently published in the Belin Lecture Series.


November 10, 7 pm: 30th David W. Belin Lecture in American Jewish Affairs: “It Can Happen Here”: Antisemitism, Gender, and the American Past

Event Registration Required: https://forms.gle/aDfZrsUswYs6Xh8DA