Voicing a New Midrash: Women’s Holocaust Writing as Jewish Feminist Response

Deidre Butler


This paper explores women’s Holocaust writing as feminist Midrashic post-Holocaust response. Emil Fackenheim’s argument that Midrash is a potential form of response to the Holocaust is a springboard for thinking critically about Jewish feminist responses to the Holocaust. Reading women’s Holocaust writing in this way exposes themes that mark Jewish feminist post-Holocaust response while also extending and enhancing that response. Three key examples of women’s Holocaust writing are read as Midrash: Judith Isaacson’s Seed of Sarah, Cynthia Ozick’s “The Shawl,” and Ilona Karmel’s An Estate of Memory. Spanning fiction and memoir, these familiar narratives highlight key themes of gender, embodiment, maternity, relationality, sexual vulnerability, and violence.


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