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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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Wengeroff in America

Wengeroff in America

(p.166) Six Wengeroff in America
A Woman's Life

Shulamit S. Magnus

Liverpool University Press

This chapter addresses Pauline Wengeroff's strange tale about her brother Ephraim, who had converted to Christianity while in the United States and then reverted to Judaism during a family conclave in Germany under the agonized plea of their aged mother. After the death of their mother, who had made Ephraim swear not to return to the United States as long as she lived, he returned there. In fact, Ephraim returned to Christianity, too, and more, to proselytizing Jews. Ephraim played a large role in the near-publication of Memoirs of Grandmother in America: first, in translating both volumes into English from the predominant German in which they had appeared; in helping to identify potential publishers and in shopping the volumes around; and then in sinking Wengeroff's promising prospects of having them published by the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) when its publication board learned the truth about him. Wengeroff, who was terrified of pogroms, wished very much to come to America; she also tried mightily to have her memoirs published there. She succeeded in neither goal. Yet in a real sense she did come to America because her attempt to get published there set off a remarkable exchange among American Jewry's most prominent leaders about Jewish boundary lines and the ‘right’ story of Jewish modernity for American Jewry.

Keywords:   Pauline Wengeroff, religious conversion, United States, Christianity, Judaism, Memoirs of a Grandmother, Jewish Publication Society, American Jewry, Jewish boundary lines, Jewish modernity

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