PERSONAL: Married Jay Ladin; children: Gabriel, two others. Education: Sarah Lawrence College, B.A. Religion: Jewish.
ADDRESSES: Home—Pelham, MA. Agent—Pamela Malpas, Harold Ober Associates, 425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017; Carol Fass, Carol Fass Publicity & Public Relations, Inc., 26 West 17th St., Suite 802, New York, NY 10011.
CAREER: Freelance journalist and writer; Excel program, Amherst College, Amherst, MA, instructor in journalism; Five College Women's Studies Research Center, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA, former associate.
AWARDS, HONORS: Vogelstein Foundation grant.
Shiksa: The Gentile Woman in the Jewish World, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to numerous periodicals, including Moment, Mothering, Massachusetts Review, Poets & Writers, Tikkun, Gettysburg Review, Village Voice, and San Francisco Chronicle.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Virginia Dare, a novel about the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory.
SIDELIGHTS: Freelance journalist Christine Benvenuto's first book, Shiksa: The Gentile Woman in the Jewish World, is about a very personal subject. Benvenuto converted from Roman Catholicism to Judaism when she married a Jewish man, but, as she describes in the book, she was still stereotyped as a "shiksa," a derogatory term for a gentile woman. In the stereotype, shiksas are seen as more sexually attractive and available than Jewish women, and as such those Jews who worry about assimilation often focus those fears on shiksa temptresses. Benvenuto understandably resents this characterization, and Shiksa reflects that; as a Publishers Weekly reviewer noted, "a tone of strident indignation permeates the book." Channeling her feelings into her writing, "Benvenuto explodes the myth of the predatory gentile woman prowling to seduce the helpless Jewish man," Dan Friedman wrote in Forward.
In Shiksa Benvenuto traces the history of non-Jewish women in Jewish society from Biblical times to the present. Many of the famous women of the Torah, including Joseph's concubines Bilhah and Zilpah, matriarchs of four of the twelve tribes of Israel, as well as Hagar, Rachel, and Ruth were gentiles. Similarly, in modern times, many converts to Judaism or gentile women married to Jewish men have actively supported the American Jewish community, and Benvenuto interviewed roughly two dozen such women about their experiences. With this "compelling convert's tale," as Whitney Scott described the work in Booklist, Benvenuto adds "greatly to the literature on some interreligious and women's issues that haven't been adequately explored."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 2004, Whitney Scott, review of Shiksa: The Gentile Woman in the Jewish World, p. 1126.
Forward, April 23, 2004, Dan Friedman, "Taking the Gloss off of 'Shiksa Toes.'"
Library Journal, February 1, 2004, Khadijah Caturani, review of Shiksa, p. 93.
Mothering, November-December, 1999, Christine Benvenuto, "Getting out the Angries."
Publishers Weekly, January 19, 2004, review of Shiksa, p. 72.
Carol Fass Publicity and Public Relations Web site, http://www.fasspr.com/ (September 13, 2004), "Christine Benvenuto."
Putney Student Travel Web site, http://www.goputney.com/ (September 13, 2004), "Christine Benvenuto."