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Paula E. Hyman | Social historian, 65

Paula E. Hyman, 65, a social historian who pioneered the study of women in Jewish life and became an influential advocate for women's equality in Jewish religious practice, including their ordination as rabbis, died Thursday at her home in New Haven, Conn.

The cause was breast cancer, said her husband, Stanley Rosenbaum.

Ms. Hyman, a professor of modern Jewish history at Yale University, wrote 10 books about the Jewish experience in Europe and the United States, many of them focused on women's roles in various communities before and after the immense Jewish migrations of the 19th and 20th centuries.

She spotlighted the stresses confronting married Jewish women from Eastern Europe when they arrived in the United States, for instance: Although they were used to working outside the home, even as primary breadwinners in some ultrareligious families, they were initially housebound in America, where custom placed married women in the home.

In her books, Ms. Hyman chronicled how married Jewish women from Eastern and Western Europe overcame such customs to become full partners in family businesses, a major part of the New York garment workforce, and leaders of successful community protests such as the Lower East Side kosher meat boycott of 1902 and the New York rent strike of 1907. - N.Y. Times News Service