[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
When Yale University’s Prof. Paula Hyman delivered the 2010 Naamani Lecture on March 11, she explored the topic, “When Gendered Divisions Empowered Jewish Women,” she compared and contrasted the evolution of roles of Jewish women in the United States and in Palestine during the first three decades of the 20th century.
Gender roles in the early 20th century in both locales were clearly defined, she explained. Men engaged in business and politics while women were responsible for home and family. Home and family encompassed spirituality and values as well as ensuring that homes were comfortable for men and children.
Hyman explored how those responsibilities as educator, comforter and provider provided a natural transition for women into the area of social work, and she explored the roles of organizations like Hadassah and National Council of Jewish Women in expanding women’s activities outside the home.
She also covered how nursing helped women move into the workplace and the challenges women faced as nursing became professionalized.
The Naamani Memorial Lecture Series is supported by donations to the Naamani Memorial Lecture Fund. The series was established in 1979 to honor the memory of Professor Israel T. Naamani, long a beloved member of both the university community and the Louisville Jewish community. To contribute to the Naamani Lecture Fund, contact Professor Lee Shai Weissbach in the History Department at the University of Louisville at 852-3755 or by e-mail at email@example.com.