Houses of Study is an eloquent memoir of a Jewish woman’s life and her efforts to reconcile the traditions of her faith with her belief in women’s equality and the pull of modern American living. Ilana M. Blumberg traces her path from a childhood immersed in Hebrew and classical Judaic texts alongside Anglo-American novels and biographies to a womanhood where the two literatures suddenly represent mutually exclusive possibilities for life. Set in “houses of study,” from a Jewish grammar school and high school to a Jerusalem yeshiva for women to a secular American university, her intimate and poignant memoir asks what happens when the traditional Jewish ideal of learning asserts itself in a woman directed by that same tradition toward a life of modesty, early marriage, and motherhood.
This Bison Books edition is updated with discussion questions.
Ilana M. Blumberg is an assistant professor of humanities, culture, and writing at James Madison College, Michigan State University.
“Houses of Study is the bildungsroman not only of a single individual, but also of a generation of women brought up in a not yet self-confident stream of Orthodoxy, a school of thought in the making. . . . The text’s tone reflects its subject’s complexity, as it moves back and forth between the discursive and instructive and the poetic and intimate. The book’s form embraces extreme variety, from snippets of poems, written by the author and others, to extended discourses on Hebrew and Talmudic phrases and concepts, streams of consciousness, and mini-stories that sound like extended metaphors.”—Haaretz
Table of Contents
Houses of Study
If They Be Two
Tree, Light, Fruit
Winner of the 2008 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature Choice Award
2007 National Jewish Book Award in Women Studies Runner-Up