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Perpetuating Stereotypes: A Study of Gender, Family, and Religious Life in Jewish Children's Books

Authors


  • Acknowledgments: The authors wish to thank Wendy Cadge, David Cunningham, and Casey Clevenger for their valuable insights. This article also benefited from the feedback of the Approaches to Social Research Seminar at Brandeis University during the early stages of this project.

Abstract

This paper examines award-winning Jewish children's literature as a medium to explore how religiosity gets constructed differently for men and women. We analyze three decades of winners of the Sydney Taylor Jewish Book Award, a prestigious annual award given by the Association of Jewish Libraries to an outstanding Jewish children's book. We demonstrate how these award-winning books produce and perpetuate gendered religious stereotypes that associate men with agency and women with communion. We also show how these books construct images of a “domestic Judaism” for women and a “public Judaism” for men and how women have been symbolically annihilated from the titles and central character roles in these books. Drawing on Cecilia Ridgeway's (2011) gender-framing perspective, we argue that the gender stereotypes evident in these books matter to society because they produce and enforce gender inequalities in religiousness.

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