The Encyclopedia features over 1,700 biographies, 300 thematic essays, and 1,400 photographs and illustrations on a wide range of Jewish women through the centuries -- from Gertrude Berg to Gertrude Stein; Hannah Greenebaum Solomon to Hannah Arendt; the Biblical Ruth to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Literature by American Jewish women reflects historical trends in American Jewish life and indicates the changing issues facing writers who worked to position themselves as Americans, Jews, and women.
The explosion of writing by American Jewish women in the twentieth century has produced not only serious fiction, poetry, essays, and autobiography but also a range of popular literature geared to pleasure reading and light entertainment. Jewish women authors have experimented with many genres: regional novels, sagas, historical novels, romances, mysteries and crime fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and humor.
Retired Congresswoman Bobbi Fiedler of Northridge in Los Angeles considers herself “a very private person” who was “pushed into politics by necessity, not by plan.
A lyricist and librettist whose work embraces the bouncy optimism of “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” the brassy seductiveness of “Hey, Big Spender,” and the tender musings of “The Way You Look Tonight,” Dorothy Fields wrote the words to more than four hundred songs in a career that spanned half a century.
The history of Jewish women’s contribution to the Hollywood film industry has been one of gradual progression toward ever higher levels of participation. For most of Hollywood’s history, the dominant tendency was to achieve a universal image that revealed no traces of ethnic heritage. This trend held until the 1960s and affected all ethnic groups. Only a few dozen Jewish actors were able to make their way into stardom under these constraints. Since the 1960s, however, Hollywood films have reflected a higher degree of ethnic diversity. The result of this change is that increasing numbers of Jewish actors have been able to establish careers in Hollywood.
One can perceive the body of work created by women filmmakers in Europe as a testament to the efforts of Jews to re-calibrate community and family in the years following the traumas of World War II. One can confidently look forward to new works by women film artists that reflect the reality of the lives of Jews in Europe today.
Since the start of the independent movement, American Jews have contributed their share of self-reflective and identity-based work in film and video, and in genres that have ranged from traditional narrative to the most experimental of documentaries. Female Jewish directors have made significant contributions.
Women filmmakers who have made a significant contribution to Israeli film, in both the narrative and documentary film genres, have added a particularly feminist perspective to Israeli filmmaking.
In the field of continuing Jewish education for women, the preeminent pioneer is Irene Fine, the founder in 1977 of the Woman’s Institute for Continuing Jewish Education, based in San Diego, California. The institute continues to innovate in Jewish women’s education and in the publication of books on Jewish women by Jewish women.
Contemporary commentators often ascribed much of entertainer Danny Kaye’s success to his having a “Fine” head on his shoulders. Publicly, his wife Sylvia Fine’s coruscating lyrics supported Danny’s zaniness in such films as Up in Arms (1944), Wonder Man (1945), The Kid from Brooklyn (1946), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), The Inspector General (1949), and On the Riviera (1951).
Senator Sheila Finestone, one of Canadian Jewry’s foremost parliamentarians, has, throughout her career as a liberal politician, championed the protection of human rights for all Canadians.
Fragments of the past that resurface in the present, Fink’s writing offers an unflinching and insightful look at wartime experiences and memories. By turns poignant and tender, grim and sardonic, Fink’s lean and unsentimental prose conveys the profound and lasting effects of the Holocaust.
Paulette joined the Resistance to sabotage the German “war machine” and collaborated with a network of Catholic and Protestant volunteers to hide, and save Jewish children left behind by Polish, Hungarian, Romanian and French Jews when they were deported to the concentration camps.
Rita (Ricka) Sapiro Finkler, a pioneering endocrinologist in New Jersey, practiced medicine for over half a century.
Firestone, a founder of radical feminism, brought together the dialectical materialism of Marx and the psychoanalytic insights of Freud in an effort to develop an analysis of women’s oppression that was inclusive of the dimensions of class and race. Although she wrote for a popular audience, her work was broadly grounded in classic texts and raised many questions that have since been taken up and developed by feminist theorists within the academy.
Ruth First was a prolific writer and her penetrating investigative journalism exposed many of the harsh conditions under which the majority of South Africans lived. As various restrictions prevented her from continuing her work as a journalist Ruth First became more and more involved with the underground movement that was changing its tactics from protest to sabotage.
With great courage and dogged determination, Edith Lond Fisch became a lawyer, legal writer, and law professor despite severe physical limitations, educational prejudices, and sexual discrimination.
An outstanding communal leader in New York City’s Orthodox Jewish community, Jane Brass Fischel was a generous philanthropist and active participant in Jewish communal activities.
Janette Fishenfeld was the first, if not the only, Brazilian Jewish woman writer to display an adamant fidelity to Zionist idealism, while at the same time expressing an objective, though critical, view on the Jewish community in Brazil, its weaknesses and strengths.
A writer and a publicist, Doris Fleischman was guided by two antithetical imperatives—her marked public feminism, in contrast to her domestic submissiveness.
Zionist and public activist, a leader of the Slovakia Jewish community during the Holocaust, Gisi Fleischmann was born in Pressburg (later Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia).
Trude Fleischmann, who developed a passion for photography already as a child, rapidly became one of Vienna’s leading portrait photographers soon after opening her own studio at the age of twenty-five.
Jennie Maas Flexner was the New York Public Library’s original readers’ adviser, an innovator in the use of public libraries for adult education, especially for minorities, immigrants, and refugees during the unsettled years of the Depression and World War II.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Encyclopedia." (Viewed on November 24, 2014) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/toc/F>.