Why do you conceal your body? Or cover your head with cloth? Why do you abstain from sex during your period? These were the questions Federica Valabrega asked as she photographed Jewish women in Orthodox communities from Brooklyn to Jerusalem. Valabrega has been raised with traditional Jewish customs in Rome—keeping kosher, observing religious holidays, and lighting candles for Shabbat—but because her mother was not born Jewish and the lineage of the faith passes through the mother , she is not considered Jewish by many Orthodox observers.
One Jewish woman’s personal story reveals what it took to elude capture in Nazi Germany
Are you hungry? Did you want two bagels stacked with spreads on spreads on spreads," my mom will ask you when you visit. And twenty minutes after you've walked in. And again an hour later. The correct answer is always "yes" and the correct follow-up question is "This must be your mother's recipe, right? You call that thing from the supermarket a bagel? More like a nay -gel.
In , Marie Jalowicz, a Jewish girl hiding in Berlin, watched as a barkeep sold her for 15 marks to a man mysteriously nicknamed "the rubber director. The barkeep pulled Marie aside before she left with the man. Her fabricated backstory was simple; she just couldn't bear to live with her in-laws anymore. But, the barkeep added, her new patron was also "a Nazi whose fanaticism bordered on derangement. The "rubber director" earned his nickname from his wobbly gait, and Marie once heard that people in the late stages of syphilis "walked as if their legs were made of rubber, and they could no longer articulate properly.
Consideration of Jewish women's lives and experiences during the Holocaust became a priority only late in the 20th century. Scholars focused on women's roles as homemakers, wives, breadwinners, supporters and resistors, with little, if any, attention paid to their reproductive or sexual lives. Many considered that the Rassenschande laws shielded Jewish women from the worst horrors of rape and sexual abuse leading to little investigation of this issue. Women were reluctant to speak of such intimate events, and researchers were hesitant to ask about them for fear of causing further hurt. Concern for the sensationalizing of women's experiences also inhibited investigation of this aspect of women's lives. Significant acts of emotional, sexual and physical abuse of women, were, however, perpetrated by the Nazis and others against men and women, Jews and non-Jews, including humiliating nudity, rape and physical abuse. This article focuses on Jewish women's sexual experiences as expressed in diaries, memoirs and testimonies. It explores the variety of interactions that occurred, ranging from loving relationships that emerged despite extremely difficult living conditions, to sexualized humiliation, sexual exchange, rape and sexually related brutality. Recognizing the extent of women's adverse sexual experiences, and their aftermath, acknowledges their lives and honours their experiences. Literature on the Holocaust has repeatedly focused on the genocide of the Jews by direct means such as gassing, torture, deprivation and disease in ghettos and camps and at the hands of the Einsatzazgruppen, the mobile killing units that followed the German armies to Poland in and to the Soviet Union in