If you don't want your stereotypes of Jewish mothers challenged, ignore this book: 50 women are featured in "Jewish Mothers," but not one is the chicken-soup feeding yente who wants her son to be a doctor and her daughter to marry one. In a short essay, each woman offers a slice of life: Avis Miller, the first female rabbi hired by a major Conservative congregation, talks about pulpit jitters; documentary filmmaker Marcia Jarmel writes eloquently of the importance of kids and motherhood among Orthodox Jews; Sue Willis discusses about the religious discrimination suit she brought against the Pike County, Alabama, Public School district after her kids' teachers "ripped . Star of David pins" off her children's shirts; Nancy Helman-Shneiderman describes the Jewish ritual she created for women undergoing a hysterectomy. The women's essays are moving, but the black-and-white photographs of each woman are even more arresting: photographer Lloyd Wolf captured midwife Alice Bailes catching a newborn, violinist Alicia Svigals with instrument and baby, and ventriloquist Shari Lewis with Lamb Chop. Even folks who usually disdain coffee-table books will find this one spellbinding.
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