I remember precisely where I was in the Glenn G. Bartle library—what part of the stacks, which corner, what bench—when I realized that Lillian Wald and I shared the same birthday, on March 10th. I was a junior at State University of New York at Binghamton, enrolled in a U.S. women’s history course that was gradually changing the direction of my life.
Ever since Bart Stupak finagled his anti-choice amendment onto the House’s Health Care Reform bill three weeks ago, my life seems to be all Stupak, all the time. I have attended rallies, visited Capitol Hill to talk to my Senators, helped plan a Lobby Day on December 2 with a broad group of progressive organizations known as the Stop Stupak coalition, supported students as they plan their own on-campus actions, and organized online to get the word out as much as possible.
Today is the first Tuesday in November, which means that for those of us freezing our toes off up north, it's finally time to turn on the heat! It also means it is Election Day, and since we're not electing a President this year, we have the luxury to relax and reflect on the trailblazing Jewish women in politics who have made history on this historic day.
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine (Dem) has picked Loretta Weinberg to be his running mate for lieutenant governor. The JTA reports that this "marks the first time a Jewish woman is running for state-wide office in New Jersey."
The JTA article does not paint a pretty picture of the history of women in New Jersey politics.
Our friends at the National Museum of American Jewish History have recently announced a new project for which they are seeking public input. Their new museum, scheduled to open in November 2010, will include a gallery called "Only in America," that will -- in their words -- "examine the choices, challenges, and opportunities faced by a remarkable group of a token 18 American Jews on their paths to accomplishment."
A few years ago, I read Devil in the White City, Erik Larson's non-fiction account of the history of the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, complete with architecture, politics, and a murder mystery. Good stuff. But I didn't realize that the Chicago World's Fair was also the site, 115 years ago this week, of the first Jewish Women's Congress, which was part of the Fair's World Parliament of Religions.
It's been 88 years since the 19th amendment gave American women the right to vote -- a right I hope we'll all take very seriously this year. I'd like to add to Lily's reflections on this anniversary the story of one Jewish woman who worked for the suffrage campaign in her homestate, Montana, in the 1910s.
Thirty-eight years ago today, thousands of women nation-wide responded to Jewish feminist Betty Friedan's call for a Women's Strike for Equality. In addition to a huge march down New York's 5th Avenue, women around the country demonstrated in support of three main goals: free abortion on demand, free 24-hour community-controlled child care centers, and equal opportunity in jobs and education.
Fifteen years ago this week, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the second woman - and the first Jewish woman - to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Considering that of the court's 110 justices, 7 have been Jewish and only 2 women, Ginsburg's appointment was no small feat.