Northeastern University

Debra Renee KaufmanDebra Renee Kaufman is professor emerita and Matthews Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University.  She was the founding director of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and the director of the Jewish Studies Program for eight years (a program she helped to establish). She is an editorial board member of several journals including: Nashim: A Multidisciplinary Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues and Contemporary Jewry, The Study of Jews in Society book series (Springer Press). She is an active participant in the Boston academic community as a member of the Graduate Consortium for Women’s Studies at MIT where she has developed and taught courses on feminist methodology.  She is a member of the Academic Advisory Committee of The Hadassah International Research Institute on Jewish Women at Brandeis University. She has lectured extensively in both the United States and Europe where she has most recently been conducting seminars on post-Holocaust identity narratives among young adults in the United States and Israel.

Her wide ranging publications related to Jewish identity, memory and/or the Holocaust include two edited volumes: From the Protocols of Zion to the Holocaust Denial Trials: Challenging the Media, the Law and the Academy (Vallentine-Mitchell, 2007); and Women, Scholarship and the Holocaust (special edition of Contemporary Jewry, 1996); numerous chapters with such titles as: “The Place of Judaism in American Jewish Identity”; “Post-Holocaust Memory: Some Gendered Reflections”; “Better the Devil You Know and Other Contemporary Identity Narratives: Comparing Orthodox to Reform Judaism”; “Post Holocaust Identity Narratives: A Sociological Approach to Collective Consciousness, Memory and History”; and journal articles: “Embedded Categories: Identity among Jewish Young Adults in the United States”; “Experiencing Hasidism: Newly Orthodox Women’s Perspectives on Sexuality and Domesticity”; “Paradoxical Politics: Gender Politics Among New Orthodox Jewish Women in the U.S.”;  “The Circularity of Secularity: The Sacred and the Secular in Some Contemporary Post-Holocaust Identity Narratives”; “Mothers and Adult Daughters: Perceptions of their Adult Relationships: A Qualitative Study”; ‘Decentering the Study of Jewish Identity: Opening the Dialogue with Other Religious Groups and Measuring Jewishness in America: Some Feminist Concerns.”

Her award-nominated books include: Rachel’s Daughters: Newly Orthodox Jewish Women (Rutgers University Press, nominated for three awards, 1991; second paperback edition reprinted in 1993; chapter three reprinted in Total Immersion: A Mikvah Anthology) and Achievement and Women (co-authored with Barbara Richardson, The Free Press, C. Wright Mills, honorable mention 1982).  She guest edited a special volume for Contemporary Jewry entitled: Demographic Storytelling which explores the narratives social scientists (in this case demographers and the study of contemporary Jewish identity) bring to their research (Contemporary Jewry, Volume 34 (2) July 2014). She writes essays for the American Jewish Yearbook: Re-imaging/Imagining Pew’s 2016 Portrait of Orthodoxy (2016) and The Jewish Future Isn’t What It Used To Be: Looking Forward From Behind (forthcoming).

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Lectures:

  • Jewish Identities in the 21st Century:
    • Telling Our Stories and Creating Ourselves: Jewish Identity in the Making
    • Beyond Belief, Behavior, and Belonging: Can You Still Be Jewish?
    • What Makes Secular Jews Jewish?
    • My Mother’s Daughter, My Daughter’s Mother: Adult Mothers and Their Daughters on Jewish Identity
    • The Jewish Future Isn’t What It Used to Be: Jewish but Not by Religion
  • Being Orthodox in the 21st Century:
    • Paradoxical Practices and Newly Orthodox Jewish Women
    • Better the Devil You Know: Feminist Women, Orthodoxy, and Choice
    • Re-imaging/Imagining Pew’s 2016 Portrait of Orthodoxy
    • Ba’alot Teshuvah: Revivalists or Traditionalists?
    • On Being Orthodox: Some Feminist Concerns
  • Post-Holocaust Jewish Identities:
    • ‘Doing Justice’ and Post-Holocaust Jewish Identity among Millenials
    • Making the Secular Sacred: Post-Holocaust Narratives and Jewish Identity
    • ‘Never Again’: The Universal and Particular Message in Post-Holocaust Identity Narratives
    • What Place the Holocaust Has in Contemporary Identity Narratives among 20- to 30-Year-Old Non-Descendents in the US and Israel
    • The Holocaust: From the Margins to the Center in Western Popular Culture