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A Woman's LifePauline Wengeroff and Memoirs of a Grandmother$
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Shulamit Magnus

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764524

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764524.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 04 July 2022

Who was Pauline Wengeroff?

Who was Pauline Wengeroff?

On Reading and Misreading Memoirs

(p.110) Four Who was Pauline Wengeroff?
A Woman's Life

Shulamit S. Magnus

Liverpool University Press

This chapter investigates how Pauline Wengeroff, seeming bard of Jewish traditionalism, can also be read as an apologist for assimilation and conversion. From the dramatic myth of Memoirs of a Grandmother, Wengeroff appears as a nostalgic apologist for tradition and a victim, along with Jewish women generally, of modernizing men and modernity. For those who concluded that she was an assimilationist did so based on her account of the conversion of her sons Simon and Volodya, which she calls a tragedy but which she contextualizes in several ways. The conversion of her sons was ‘the most grievous blow’ of Wengeroff's life. Given their and their cohort's lack of meaningful Jewish learning or lived experience, and the threat of thwarted lives because of anti-Jewish discrimination, she portrays it as inevitable, self-evident. There was, indeed, a wave of Jewish conversion in this period, for the reasons Wengeroff cites, and others. The chapter then looks at Wengeroff's family. There is no understanding Wengeroff and the construct that is Memoirs without knowing who her family members by blood and marriage were, and about her other associations.

Keywords:   Pauline Wengeroff, Jewish traditionalism, assimilation, Jewish conversion, Memoirs of a Grandmother, Jewish women, Jewish modernity, Jewish learning, anti-Jewish discrimination

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