Still Jewish

A History of Women and Intermarriage in America

325 pages

January, 2012

ISBN: 9780814764343



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Keren R. McGinity, Ph.D. is Associate Research Scientist at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, Scholar-in-Residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, and Visiting Scholar at the University of Michigan’s Frankel Center for Judaic Studies.

All books by Keren R. McGinity

Over the last century, American Jews married outside their religion at increasing rates. By closely examining the intersection of intermarriage and gender across the twentieth century, Keren R. McGinity describes the lives of Jewish women who intermarried while placing their decisions in historical context. The first comprehensive history of these intermarried women, Still Jewish is a multigenerational study combining in-depth personal interviews and an astute analysis of how interfaith relationships and intermarriage were portrayed in the mass media, advice manuals, and religious community-generated literature.

Still Jewish dismantles assumptions that once a Jew intermarries, she becomes fully assimilated into the majority Christian population, religion, and culture. Rather than becoming “lost” to the Jewish community, women who intermarried later in the century were more likely to raise their children with strong ties to Judaism than women who intermarried earlier in the century. Bringing perennially controversial questions of Jewish identity, continuity, and survival to the forefront of the discussion, Still Jewish addresses topics of great resonance in a diverse America.


  • “Historian McGinity (Brown) makes an effort to evoke new perspectives on the intermarriage of US Jewish women during the 20th century.The author offers a brief candid assessment of her own experience, which seems contrary to accepted views that marrying “out” is a prescription for diminished religious and social identity, leading to assimilation.”


  • “McGinity’s work makes clear the need for further study of intermarriage including experiences of Jewish men; comparisons of intermarried and in-married Jewish women; consideration of same-sex intermarriages; and, finally, larger sociological studies of contemporary women.”


  • “C. Wright Mills used the term “sociological imagination” to describe the insight a person has who “understand[s] the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and external career of a variety of individuals.” In this regard McGinity’s book reveals her own strong sociological imagination.”

    —American Jewish History

  • "If you thought there was nothing new to say about Jews and intermarriage, think again. McGinity’s well-researched study focuses on American Jewish women who intermarried during the twentieth century and demonstrates that many of them not only remained Jewish but, paradoxically, became more Jewish, perhaps in response to the challenge of having a non-Jewish spouse. An invaluable addition to the scant scholarly literature on intermarriage, this volume shows that in intermarriage, as in so much else, gender matters."

    —Jonathan D. Sarna, author of American Judaism: A History

  • "This compelling, impeccably researched book should make a huge difference in how we understand the contentious issue of intermarriage in the Jewish community. By putting Jewish women into the center of the story, McGinity offers a fresh perspective that challenges standard interpretations. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of Jewish life in America as well as for all those concerned with present-day patterns, policies, and outreach programs."

    —Joyce Antler, Samuel Lane Professor of American Jewish History and Culture at Brandeis University

  • "McGinity's story has great poignancy. Still Jewish demonstrates how, from insular beginnings surrounded by anti-Semitism to a world of inevitable intermarriage, Jewish women with gentile partners negotiated a new way to be Jewish in America."


  • “Great poignancy.”

    Moment Magazine

  • Still Jewish is a fascinating read for those interested in Jewish history or women’s history as well as for those concerned about the future of the Jewish community.”

    Jerusalem Post

  • “A fascinating read for those interested in Jewish history or women’s history, as well as for those concerned about the future of the Jewish community.”

    Washington Jewish Week

  • “In [McGinity’s] new book Still Jewish, she traces the attitudes of intermarried women toward Judaism throughout the 20th century.”


  • "Throughout her analysis, McGinity shows how the lives of Jewish women who intermarried demonstrate the complexity of Jewish identity in the United States."

    —Sarah Imhoff, Religious Studies Review

  • "McGinity creatively uses gender as a category of analysis...her approach is novel."

    Journal of American Ethnic History

  • "This book is well written and will hold a special appeal for those who are interested in historical narrative as a means of analyzing intermarriage in general and how this impacts on American Jewish women in particular."