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Hyman, Paula E.


HYMAN, PAULA E. (1946– ), historian of Jews in the modern period. Hyman focuses on the social transformation of the Jews in Europe and the United States, with special attention to the impact of gender on Jewish modernization. Born in Boston, Mass., the eldest of three daughters of Ida and Sydney Hyman, she was educated at Radcliffe College (B.A., 1968), the Hebrew College of Boston (B.J.Ed., 1966), and Columbia University (M.A., 1970; Ph.D., 1975). She was assistant professor of Jewish history at Columbia in 1974–81; associate professor and dean of the Seminary College of Jewish Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1981–86; she became the Lucy Moses Professor of Jewish History at Yale University in 1986. From 1989 to 2002 she chaired Yale's Program in Jewish Studies.

Hyman's three books on the experience of the Jews in France are From Dreyfus to Vichy: The Remaking of French Jewry, 19061939 (1979); The Emancipation of the Jews of Alsace: Acculturation and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century (1991); and a synthesis of French Jewish history from the 18th century to the present, The Jews of Modern France (1998). Early in her career, she collaborated with scholars Charlotte Baum and Sonya Michel to write The Jewish Woman in America (1976). Hyman's articles on women and gender include studies of the kosher meat boycott in New York City in 1903; the impact of gender on the immigrant Jewish experience in America; the role of memory, gender, and identity in modern Jewish history; and the Jewish family in Europe and America. She also wrote Gender and Assimilation in Modern Jewish History: The Roles and Representation of Women (1995) and edited, introduced, and helped translate the memoirs of Puah Rakovsky, My Life as a Radical Jewish Woman: Memoirs of a Zionist Feminist in Poland. She is the co-editor with Deborah Dash Moore of Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia (1997) and Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia (2006).

Hyman's scholarly interest in women and gender derived from her lifelong commitment to gender equality in the Jewish community. As a Jewish feminist activist in 1971, Hyman helped found Ezrat Nashim, an advocacy group for Jewish women's rights, and she became its major spokesperson, successfully petitioning the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative Movement) to grant women equality in synagogue life in 1972.

Hyman was a fellow and president of the American Academy for Jewish Research. She served as a member of the Board of Directors and as a vice president of the Association for Jewish Studies. The recipient of many fellowships and grants, she received honorary degrees from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (2000) and the Hebrew Union College (2002). She also received the Distinguished Scholar Award from Ohio State University (1999) and the Achievement Award in Historical Studies from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture (2004).

[Marsha L. Rozenblit (2nd ed.)]

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