Sara Rivka Feder-Keyfitz
1900 – 1979
Sara Feder-Keyfitz was a Zionist leader, an accomplished sociologist, an outstanding educator, and an ardent feminist who worked hard on behalf of women’s rights in America and Palestine. An important leader in the American Labor Zionist movement, she became a lifelong leader of Pioneer Women (the forerunner of Na’amat U.S.A.) in the United States, Canada, and Israel.
Sara Feder-Keyfitz was born in Poland on October 31, 1900, to Benjamin and Shaine (Kumok) Feder. She grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where her parents owned a store and restaurant in a Jewish section of town. She attended the Milwaukee Fourth Street School and became close friends with Golda Mabovitch, later Golda Meir. The two remained close throughout their lives. With Meir, Feder-Keyfitz became involved in the Poale Zion movement. Through this association she became the secretary of the Yiddish Folk School and developed a love for Yiddish culture. Feder-Keyfitz also became involved in the woman suffrage movement. She attended the University of Missouri, where she earned a doctorate in sociology, and the University of Chicago, where she earned a doctorate from the School of Social Service Administration. While studying education at Columbia University, she joined the newly formed Pioneer Women. On June 21, 1921, Sara Feder married Professor Isidore Keyfitz in Milwaukee. In 1927, with her husband, she took her first trip to Palestine. Returning in 1929 to the faculty of the University of Missouri to teach sociology and to lecture on the changing role of the family and the status of women, Feder-Keyfitz spent her summers building young Pioneer Women clubs in Chicago. From 1936 to 1942, she served as a member of the Pioneer Women Secretariat, coeditor of Pioneer Woman journal, and national president of Pioneer Women from 1951 to 1955.
In Missouri, Feder-Keyfitz worked at the state level on behalf of women’s rights, youth, and the aging. She wrote numerous educational and sociological papers, including the chapter “Aging in the Kibbutz,” which appeared in a larger work on gerontology called Aging and Modernization. Making aliyah in 1970, Feder-Keyfitz joined the faculty of the American College in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem she opened her home to new immigrants and entertained Pioneer Women tourists. She established the Adult Education Association in Israel and remained active in women’s rights causes. Sara Feder-Keyfitz died in Jerusalem on January 8, 1979, survived by her daughter, Lami Halperin, and three grandchildren.
“Aging in the Kibbutz.” In Aging and Modernization, edited by Donald O. Cogill and Lowell D. Holmes (1972): 211–226; “I Remember Golda ... (on the Occasion of Her 75th Birthday).” Pioneer Woman (May–June 1973): 3–5.
AJYB 81:365–366; BEOAJ; Kaufman, Rose. “A Letter from Israel about Sara Feder-Keyfitz.” Pioneer Woman (March–April 1979): 18; Meir, Golda. My Life (1975): 459; “Mourn Passing of Sara Feder-Keyfitz, Past PW President.” Pioneer Woman (January–February 1979): 29.