Bobbes and Zeydes

Old and New Roles for Elderly Jews
  • Barbara Myerhoff


When I received a grant three years ago to study the cultural characteristics of an aged, ethnic group living in an urban setting, my first inclination was to examine Chicanos. I had previously worked in Mexico and the comparative basis thus provided would be useful. But the political climate was not hospitable, and American ethnic minorities were not welcoming outside investigators at that time. “Why don’t you study your own people?” I was frequently asked. The idea had never occurred to me, since anthropologists are conventionally trained to study remote, often simpler cultures, or, when they work in urban, complex settings, they do not usually do fieldwork within ethnic or subcultural groups to which they belong. Of course, there would be hazards in such a study, particularly that of overidentification with people about whom one was supposed to be objective and detached, but there might be advantages too. The idea was intriguing. And there was no alternative.


Jewish Woman Female Role Sexual Stereotype Subcultural Group Jewish Ritual 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Myerhoff
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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