The author explains the situation of the Lithuanian Jewish community, situating it in its historical and geopolitical context. The tiny remaining community (5,500) constitutes 0.2% of the population of Lithuania, has a 41% rate of intermarriage, and 56% of their children are born into families of mixed-origin. Only 42% of them identify themselves as Jewish. To what extent Jews might disappear in Lithuania and how quickly that could occur depends on the current and future Jewish identity of children from mixed marriages, and the focus of the author's research is the role of Jewish women in the promotion of children's Jewish identity in the mixed family.
The author provides an overview of Jewish history in the former Yugoslavia, with an emphasis on the lives and activities of women. Until the Holocaust, the diverse Jewish community prospered and Jewish women's organizations multiplied and grew. Jewish women were active in organizing and providing aid, in supplies and medical work, in every Balkan war. After the decimation of the Holocaust, only a fraction of the community remained. Yugoslavia enjoyed relative freedom of movement and freedom of religion under communism, however, and eventually some women's organizations were rebuilt and were able to continue their benevolent work throughout the modern conflicts, even at the high point of violence in Sarajevo. Each of the new countries continues to have its own women's organizations, even in smaller communities like Split, where the Jewish population is only 120.
In giving an overview of Jewish women in Great Britain I intend to touch on three areas: Jewish organizations; participation in synagogue life; and the position of Jewish women's research in Britain. The main sources for the data I quote are the regular compilations of synagogue membership and estimates of population which the Board of Deputies Community Research Unit has conducted regularly the past thirty years; and two recent large scale-studies: The Review of Women in the Jewish Community in 1993 for the Chief Rabbi's Commission on Women; and The Survey of Social Attitudes of British Jews conducted by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in 1995.
The author presents an outline of the history of Jewish women in Italy, going back to their involvement with Jewish and Christian courts in the late Middle Ages. Highlights include women's struggles against forced conversion, anti-Semitism, and the creation of the Italian ghetto; women's involvement in Garibaldi's Resorgimento; the early popularization of the Bat Mitzvah celebration; the first Italian Jewish woman to have a rabbinic education; women's role in the anti-Nazi resistance and later in Holocaust awareness; and finally women's active leadership in the modern Italian Jewish community.