And Prairie Dogs Weren't Kosher
Jewish Women in the Upper Midwest Since 1855
Author Linda M. Schloff
Minnesota Historical Society Press (September 15, 1996)
Linking the personal and the historical, Linda Mack Schloff integrates oral accounts, diaries, letters, and autobiographies with original research and interpretation to present the little-known story of the Jewish experience in America’s heartland.
“[My parents] got tired of eating potatoes, and prairie dogs weren’t kosher.”
Isadore Pitts, son of Jewish immigrants to South Dakota, about 1913
Linking the personal and the historical, Linda Mack Schloff integrates oral accounts, diaries, letters, and autobiographies with original research and interpretation to present the little-known story of the Jewish experience in America’s heartland. And Prairie Dogs Weren’t Kosher uses the voices of four generations of Jewish women who settled in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa, and Wisconsin to show how they transported and transformed their cultural and religious life in a region inhabited by few Jews.
As the wives of fur traders and homesteaders, storekeepers and professionals, they were the key link in creating Jewish homes and helping their families fit in--often under harsh conditions. But in the process of becoming Jewish Americans, they also carved out new roles for themselves as jobholders, synagogue-builders, and social activists.
Linda Mack Scholff is director of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest, St. Paul. Her area of academic concentration is the role of Jewish women’s organizations in post-World War II America.
Reviews and news
"And Prairie Dogs Weren't Kosher begins to fill a void in American Jewish history and admirably expands our access to the religious, cultural, and social lives of women in the middle of America and their contributions to the larger community."
“This book is a treat for all who are interested in the social, economic, and cultural history of Jews, women, and immigrants. Lavishly illustrated, it successfully combines historical insight with the diverse voices of the immigrants themselves as they reflect on the processes of shaping their lives in a new land.”
Paula Hyman, Lucy Moses Professor of Modern Jewish History, Yale University and author of Gender and Assimilation in Modern Jewish History: The Roles and Representation of Women
“And Prairie Dogs Weren’t Kosher jolts simplistic images of Eastern immigrant ghettos and bedraggled pioneer mothers. Linda Schloff documents the many ways that women’s labor, domestic religious practices, and public service knit Jewish communities in the Upper Midwest. We see how women adapted traditional practices in new social environments, transformed religious institutions, and stretched their own possibilities as women and as Jews. An engrossing entry into the connected histories of religion, place, and gender.”
Elizabeth Jameson, Associate Professor of History, University of New Mexico, co-editor of The Women’s West, and contributor to Rachel Calof’s Story: Jewish Homesteader on the Northern Plains
“Authoritative, authentic, and informative, this fine book adds forgotten voices to the American story. As a rabbi in the Upper Midwest for half a century, I enjoyed reading about families I know and seeing pictures of them and their forebears. Prairie dogs aren’t kosher, but this book is because it is simply splendid.”
Bernard S. Raskas, Rabbi Emeritus, Temple of Aaron, St. Paul, and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Religious Studies, Macalester College
- 254 pages
- 7.875 x 9 inches
- ISBN: 9780873513388