Kentucky Writer Nora Rose Moosnick Explores the Complexities of Arab and Jewish Women in the American South in New Book

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New book explores Arab and Jewish women's experiences in assimilation and tradition living in Kentucky.

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Today, Arab Christians and Jews are still tied to one another perhaps because we are joined with Muslim Arabs who are relatively newer immigrants to this country.

It may come as a surprise that Arabs and Jews call Kentucky home, but that is the subject of Nora Rose Moosnick's recently published book, Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky: Stories of Audacity and Accommodation. The book is one of five nominees for the Kentucky Literary Award for 2013.

Outwardly, moreover, it would appear that Arab and Jewish immigrants comprise two distinct groups with differing cultural backgrounds and an adversarial relationship. Yet, as immigrants who have settled in communities across Kentucky, at a distance from metropolitan areas, both must negotiate complex identities.

Growing up in Kentucky as the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants, Moosnick observed this traditionally mismatched pairing of Jews and Arabs firsthand. Over the years, she found Arab and Jewish immigrants have been brought together by their shared otherness and shared fears.

This experience and reflection led Moosnick to write Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky: Stories of Audacity and Accommodation, in which she reveals how Arab and Jewish women have navigated the intersection of tradition, assimilation, and Kentucky’s cultural landscape.

The stories of ten women’s experiences as immigrants or the children of immigrants join around common themes of public service to their communities, intergenerational relationships, running small businesses, and the difficulties of juggling family and work. Together, their compelling narratives challenge misconceptions and overcome the invisibility of Arabs and Jews in out of the way places in America.

Moosnick, by writing the book, aspires for each group to learn from the other and to foster understanding. “My hope is we can simply see that we have much in common and how this is especially true for Arabs and Jews away from urban centers. Historically, Arab Christians and Jews came to this country around the same time did the same things like peddled goods and opened stores, and looked alike and carried similar names (Abraham, Isaac, and Moses). Today, Arab Christians and Jews are still tied to one another perhaps because we are joined with Muslim Arabs who are relatively newer immigrants to this country.”

Moosnick will speak with books clubs and college classes via phone, Skype, or in person (in the Lexington, KY area) at no charge. She will also work with bloggers interested in reviewing the book or interviewing her.

Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky: Stories of Audacity and Accommodation can be purchased from the University Press of Kentucky or via Amazon.com.

About Nora Rose Moosnick
Moosnick is a sociologist by training and for two decades has interviewed those who are invisible or hyper-visble, but far from understood such as women on welfare or white women who adopt children of another race and/or nationality. She is the author of Adopting Maternity: White Women Who Adopt Transracially or Transnationally and lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

Praise for Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky
“An important, compelling work. Moosnick’s analysis of the interbraided relationships and experiences of Arabs and Jews in a southern setting is a captivating and powerful story.”—Marcie Cohen Ferris, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, author of Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South

“Moosnick weaves together a refreshing blend of life stories and follows a captivating group of Arab and Jewish women through a narrative negotiation between tradition, assimilation, and Kentucky’s cultural landscape.”—Douglas A. Boyd, author of Crawfish Bottom: Recovering a Lost Kentucky Community

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Nora Rose Moosnick

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