Judith Rosenbaum

Judith Rosenbaum is a feminist historian who has happily escaped the academy and knows a lot of strange and often useless information (ask her about the history of the maxi pad or the vibrator, for example). She's inspired by anarchist Emma Goldman, political activist Bella Abzug, writer and activist Grace Paley, and other loud Jewish women – including those in her own family.

Blog posts

  • Today is the 86th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which granted American women the right to vote. It took women activists 72 years to win the federal right to vote, and it was a hard battle, filled with many setbacks and contentious disagreements about ideology and strategy.

  • When Jane Jacobs died earlier this year, we heard a lot about her urban activism to save neighborhoods from the destruction of a proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway. (We at JWA, by the way, learned as we researched a memorial piece on Jacobs that, contrary to popular belief, she was not Jewish). Friday’s Forward has a great article about a woman named Lillian Edelstein, whose own urban activism preceded Jacobs’.

  • It’s the story of an immigrant struggling to survive economically in the big city, a woman running for president, a crusade against pornography and birth control, a decades-long debate on how to achieve political equality for women.

  • All week I’ve been fascinated by the reports of Catholic women being ordained as priests – 12 women were ordained on a boat outside of Pittsburgh on Monday (these “irregular” ordinations take place on rivers, which are beyond archdiocese jurisdiction), and last week another secretly ordained woman priest “came out” about her ordination and resigned from her position in the Archdiocese of Boston.

  • We may be known for our long and rich past, but I think it’s fair to say that the Jewish community is obsessed with its future – think about the role of a term like “Jewish continuity” in American Jewish life. And we also like to talk. So it’s not a big surprise that so many conferences and programs – especially now, in the early years of a new millennium – have taken the Jewish future as their subject.

  • For the past two weeks, I’ve been reading the news reports about the escalating violence in Israel and Lebanon with dread and despair. I am struck by how unavoidable the violence seems to be, and yet how unconstructive it is, destroying lives, homes, businesses, and hope, while sowing further seeds of hate.

  • I’ve fallen behind on blogging this week because I’ve been immersed in planning for JWA’s first National Summer Institute for Jewish educators, which begins on Sunday.

  • Forty years ago today, the National Organization for Women (NOW), was founded in Betty Friedan’s hotel room in Washington, DC. Friedan and the 26 other founders were frustrated by the unwillingness of the National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women to take any meaningful action against the well-documented widespread discrimination against women.

  • Lately I’ve been re-reading the stories of Grace Paley, and no matter how many times I’ve read them, they’re hard to put down. She’s one of my favorite writers, a woman who weaves stories from what she views around her and captures how the most mundane, brief moments (a walk with a friend, moms watching kids in the park) contain everything we need to know about people and the world.

  • Every day, I look at the poster of labor activist Rose Schneiderman in my office, and I draw inspiration from the stories of Jewish women who shook up the American labor movement in the early 20th century. So it was with both sadness and interest that I read the obituary of labor lobbyist Evelyn Dubrow last night.

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