Ask any one of my friends or family members: in the weeks leading up to JWA’s Institute for Educators, I was a mess. As the dishes piled up on my desk at the office and my eyeballs crossed from looking at spreadsheet after spreadsheet of catering orders and flight information, a battle between stress and excitement raged in my mind.
Physical places add an important dimension to our understanding of history. This was the impetus behind JWA's effort to put Jewish women "On the Map." This month, we have been commemorating the centennial of the Triangle factory fire, which took the lives of 146 garment workers. The history of the labor movement in the U.S. is inextricably linked with this watershed event.
On March 25, 1911, in the span of 20 minutes, 146 people lost their lives to a fire that swept through one of New York’s largest garment shops. Almost all of the victims were young women, some literally just girls. Most who died were greenhorns, new immigrants, who didn’t know better or have any choice but to work there. Typically they worked with relatives or people from their hometowns (landsleit) who had recruited them. Two-thirds were Jewish; the other third were Italian and, of course, all who worked there were poor.