Skip to Main Content

AJS Perspectives

Call for Submissions

The Mother Issue: 
Yenta, Mameh, or Invisible Woman?
Reconfiguring the Jewish Mother
in the Twenty-First Century

Editors: Laura Limonic & Federica Schoeman
Art Editor: Douglas Rosenberg
Roundtable Editor: Jason Schulman
"Teaching with Film and Media" Editor: Olga Gershenson

Deadline for pitches June 15, 2023

“How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a lightbulb?”
“None, I’ll just stay here in the dark.”

From the Bible to popular culture, the figure of the Jewish mother looms large in our understanding of Jewish family life, identity, and history. Jewish mothers are at once sanctified and vilified. Ironically, while “Yiddishe mameh” in English means Jewish mother, the “Jewish mother” (the largely American stereotype of awfulness incarnate) is not at all the mamelah of the Yiddish imagination (the pious, self-immolating mother… no wife will ever measure up to her). When she is not completely invisible or ignored, the mother usually only appears within the confines of the clichés assigned to her: either insufferable harpy or selfless icon of victimhood. Often the Jewish mother’s relation with her daughters and sons is the backbone of Jewish comedy and it rarely flatters her. Where are we getting our cues from, when we imagine, represent, or talk about Jewish women in their domestic, familial, maternal role?

In hopes of turning a light on this figure, the editors of AJS Perspectives are soliciting submissions for the Winter 2023 issue devoted to the Jewish Mother.

The Mother Issue will explore the ways in which the trope of the Jewish mother evolved over time and space; it will endeavor to classify, analyze, and challenge its representations, while offering a twenty-first-century historical and cultural perspective on an old theme.

We welcome interdisciplinary and comparative studies. Authors can be as original as they wish in choosing the angle of their creative or scholarly essay. Some themes and questions worth considering include but are far from limited to: 1) How are Jewish mothers depicted in contemporary culture?; 2) What does the stereotype of the Jewish mother tell us about Judaism?; 3) Is Judaism, and woman’s role in it, responsible for the creation of the “Jewish mother” type?; 4) What is “Jewish” about Jewish mothers?; 5) How can the representations of the Jewish mother be read against the backdrop of (Jewish and non-Jewish) patriarchy, antisemitism, and other historical currents?

We particularly encourage creative narratives and other non-standard academic forms of writing, including submissions of annotated texts, first-person reflections, immersive non-fiction, teaching case studies, photo essays, mixed media submissions, infographics, art, etc.

We aim to promote a diversity of voices from all career stages, geographical locations, genders, religions, races, sexualities, and ability diversities. As such, you are invited to include relevant aspects of whatever subjectivity or positionality may inform your work.

We are asking for pitches/abstracts of up to 250 words, accompanied by an introductory paragraph (i.e., a writing sample demonstrating the author’s ability to write in a clear and engaging way, for both academic and non-academic audiences).

Completed essays will be approximately 1,000 words.

Teaching with Film and Media Submissions

We invite 2–3 sentence pitches for the “Teaching with Film and Media” section, edited by Olga Gershenson. Final submissions will consist of a short essay about a film relevant to the figure of the Jewish mother and a brief discussion of its pedagogical potential in Jewish Studies courses. Each essay will be 250–300 words (including director, year, country of production, and distributor) plus a representative image.

Roundtable Submissions

We invite submissions for the Roundtable format in AJS Perspectives. Roundtables feature a group of scholars exploring a topic in a conversational manner. Like essays, roundtables can explore the theme from creative and scholarly perspectives, as well as reflections on the theme in pedagogy and the profession. We particularly welcome roundtables formed for past or upcoming AJS Conferences. Roundtables should consist of 3–5 participants and should be no longer than 2,000 words in total.

Art Submissions

We invite artists to address the topic through relevant practices that may include, (but are not limited to) photography, printmaking, painting, drawing, sculpture, performative documentation or other reproducible media.

Art submissions should be the highest quality digital representation in your particular medium. Please submit files with appropriate description and any additional information which may be helpful to the editors.

Deadline for pitches June 15, 2023

If accepted, completed essays will be due no later than July 30

Submit here:

Questions? Contact the editors at