What my mother taught me: the construction of Canadian Jewish womanhood in Montreal, 1945-1980.




Eidinger, Andrea Ellen

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



In this dissertation, I argue that from the late 1940s to the late 1970s, the Jewish community of Montreal underwent a series of changes that significantly altered its character. And while increasing numbers of Jews from all over the world began arriving on the island, the established elites reacted by creating and then entrenching a new cultural orthodoxy based on their own practices and values. Jewish women were fundamental to this process, as both objects of the new cultural discourse as well as active participants. Understanding the process through which a "Jewish community of Montreal" group was created requires a consideration of both public and private ethnic signifiers, so an analysis of the construction of gender norms for Jewish women is key. This dissertation will track these fractured dialogues through an analysis of currents of thought and discussion among Jewish individuals living in Montreal between 1945 and 1980. I will accomplish this through a comparison of both textual documents and oral interviews. In sum, I will examine how dominant discourses are constructed by elites, and how they are in turn experienced by the women themselves.



Jews, women, Montreal, ethnic identity, gender, cultural transmission, food history, body history, family history, religious history, feminist history