Rosa Sonneschein’s Fin-the-Siècle Fiction: The Clashing Worlds of Zionism, Reform Judaism, Feminism and Conformity

Irene Rabinovich 1
  • 1 Holon Institute of Technology, , Israel


Rosa Sonneschein (1847–1932) was an important figure in late nineteenth-century American journalism, activism, and fiction. While a few brief studies were dedicated to her biography and to her role as a Jewish social activist, editor, and contributor to The American Jewess, no critical work has been devoted as yet to her literary production. The aim of this essay is to rectify this critical neglect by examining Sonneschein’s wide literary opus and by investigating its connection, if any, to the views she expressed as a journalist and a public speaker. This essay will explore Sonneschein’s threefold literary oeuvre, consisting of the following genres: Jewish fiction, non-Jewish fiction, and literary sketches. It will also try to explicate Rosa’s often conflicting stance with regard to Judaism, feminism, and Zionism, a standpoint which should be examined in the context of the fin-the-siècle’s turbulent changes American society had to cope with, especially pertaining to massive immigration, religious and social reforms, suffrage and temperance movements, etc.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Baker, Martha K. “Rosa Sonneschein Was a Pioneer for Women.” St. Louis Post- Dispatch 17 Mar. 2007. Web. 10 Oct. 2019.

  • The English Standard Version Bible. New York: Oxford UP, 2009.

  • Hess, Jonathan, et al. Introduction. Nineteenth-Century Jewish Literature: A Reader. Ed. Jonathan Hess, et al. 1st ed. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2013.7-28.

  • Goldenberg, Myrna. “Rosa Sonneschein and the American Jewess.” Proceedings of the World Congress of Jewish Studies. Division B. Vol. 2: The History of Jewish People (1989): 331-338. JSTOR. Web. 1 Oct. 2019.

  • Gottheil, Richard, Hermann L. Strack, and Joseph Jacobs. “Blood Accusation.” Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1901–1906. Web. 10 Apr. 2020.

  • Kessner, S. Carole. “Rosa Sonneschein: The Woman and Her Work.” Proceedings of the World Congress of Jewish Studies. Division B. Vol. 2: The History of Jewish People (1989): 325-330. JSTOR. Web. 1 Oct. 2019.

  • Loth, David. “Notes on the Marital Discord of Solomon and Rosa Sonneschein.” Small Collections, AJA. Web. 2 Oct. 2019.

  • Ober, Kenneth H. “Nathan Samuely: A Forgotten Writer in a Neglected Genre.” Shofar 18.2 (2000): 70-82.

  • “Rabbi Sonneschein’s Troubles.” The New York Times 5 Sept. 1892. 5. Web. 9 Oct. 2019.

  • Soloveichik, Meir. “The Jewish Mother: A Theology.” Azure: A Journal of Literary Thought 20.1 (2005): 99-115.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “A Modern Miracle.” The American Jewess 1.1 (1895): 1-9.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “Editor’s Desk.” The American Jewess 1.2 (1895): 101-104.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “Review of the National Council of Jewish Women.” The American Jewess 1.4 (1895): 188-193.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “Three Kisses.” The American Jewess 2.6 (1896): 293-300.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “Editorial.” The American Jewess 2.10 (1896): 554-555.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “Between Two Worlds, Part I.” The American Jewess 4.4 (1897): 145-155.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “Between Two Worlds, Part II.” The American Jewess 4.5 (1897): 193-199.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “Engaged Not to Be Married.” The American Jewess 4.6 (1897): 245-256.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “Jew and Magnate.” The American Jewess 5.1 (1897): 3-7.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “Anti-Semitism and Zionism.” The American Jewess 5.4 (1897): 156-159.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “Editorial.” The American Jewess 6.2 (1897): 93-95.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “A Fin De Siècle Meeting.” The American Jewess 6.5 (1898): 209-213.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “The American Jewess.” The American Jewess 6.6 (1898): 205-209.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “Zionism.” The American Jewess 6.6 (1898): 270-271.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “Editorial.” The American Jewess 7.2 (1898): 95-99.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “The Woman Who Talks.” The American Jewess 7.4 (1898): 51-54.

  • Sonneschein, Rosa. “Zionism.” The American Jewess 7.5 (1898): 5-9.

  • Smith-Rosenberg, Carol. “The Female World of Love and Ritual: Relations between Women in Nineteenth-Century America.” Signs 1.1 (1975): 1-29.

  • Ward McAllister, Samuel. “The Only Four Hundred.” The New York Times 16 Feb. 1892. Web. 10 Oct. 2019.

  • Wein, Berel. “Political Zionism.” JewishHistory.Org. Web. 20 Oct. 2019.

  • Welter, Barbara. “The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820–1860.” American Quarterly 18.2 (1966): 151–174.

  • Zionist Congress: First Zionist Congress and Basel Program.” Web. 18 Oct. 2019.


Journal + Issues