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.
One of the women responsible for shaping Hadassah into its role of national prominence was Florence Bierman Perlman. A national board member of Hadassah from 1938 until her death, Perlman also held many other important positions within the organization.
Helen Harris Perlman, with almost seventy years as a social work practitioner, supervisor, teacher, consultant, and author to her credit, was a legend in her field.
Shoshana Persitz developed a line of school books and the Zionist library, Ha-Noar (For Youth), which included monographs about Jewish cities, villages and kibbutzim in Palestine and on the Zionist history of the quest to establish a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. Throughout her years in the legislature she chaired the Knesset Education Committee and was instrumental in the passing of the State Education Law (1953), which replaced the schools, previously operated in accordance with various political ideologies, with one state general education system and one state-religious system.
Known primarily as one of the first female vice presidents of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), Pesotta saw her union organizing as an opportunity to fulfill the anarchist mandate “to be among the people and teach them our ideal in practice.”
When Roberta Peters was just thirteen, famed tenor Jan Peerce suggested she take lessons to cultivate her amazing natural voice. Six years later, she made her debut on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera—and has been dazzling international audiences ever since.
Alice S. Petluck was one of the earliest women legal pioneers. An immigrant from Russia, she became one of the first women in the United States to attend law school and to practice in New York. She was a prominent New York social reformer, who, through her example, was able to open the door for generations of future female lawyers.
Jewish law and custom, secular culture, and economic and social roles have shaped Jewish women’s involvement in philanthropic activities. Although the term is often associated with the beneficence of the wealthy, philanthropy refers to a broad range of activities—giving time as well as giving money—that are intended to enhance the quality of life in a community or a society.
Geneticist Ursula (Anna-Ursula) Philip began her professional career in Germany and, after fleeing into exile became a prominent researcher in Great Britain.
Ellen Phillips influenced generations of young Jewish girls and boys in nineteenth-century Philadelphia.
Millions of people helped popularize the radio and television soap operas created by scriptwriter Irna Phillips. In contrast with other radio soap operas, which typically endorsed traditional visions of domesticity and femininity, Phillips’s serials frequently conveyed the complexities of modern women’s choices.
Marion Phillips, who, as Chief Women’s Officer of the Labour Party was one of the most important figures in the campaign to free women from domestic drudgery at the beginning of the twentieth century and whose campaigning work brought a quarter of a million women into the Labour Party.
Rebecca Phillips’s life embodies the overlapping of the mundane and the exceptional: She not only was a mother, but also served as a pioneering leader in Jewish and secular American communal life.
When, in 1912, a tiny Jewish women’s study group known as the Hadassah Circle announced its intention to form an international organization addressing social conditions in Palestine, one of its founders, along with henrietta szold, was Rosalie Phillips, a woman whose name was already well known in Jewish American philanthropy and politics. Through her involvement in the fledgling organization, Phillips offered a wide range of resources and connections critical to its success.
There is no simple way to categorize Jewish American women photographers—they are too diverse a group. They come from distinctly different political periods, economic strata, and even cultures (some were born abroad). They share neither mind-set nor style, their subjects and interests vary widely, and their worldview and art seem to have little to do with their Jewish identity.
Photography was the primary method used to document the Zionist enterprise in Palestine and photographers assumed the responsibility of creating and expressing its history.
A drunk’s dare to a five-year-old on a trolley car initiated the career of Molly Picon, the petite darling of the Yiddish musical theater.
Grounded in feminism, political activism, and Jewish spirituality, more than thirty volumes comprise Piercy’s oeuvre.
Harriet Fleischl Pilpel was a prominent participant and strategist in women’s rights, birth control, and reproductive freedom litigation for over half a century.
"Not a great deal is known about this prominent orthodox Jewish writer, who had a huge readership in her day. Her aim was to acquaint Jewish children with the Jewish tradition, which she and her husband felt was under severe threat from assimilation."
Mimi Pinzón is arguably the sole significant Yiddish writer who spent none of her school years in Eastern Europe.
Pioneer Women, the Labor Zionist women’s organization in the United States—today called Na’amat—was officially founded in 1925. The new group sought to elevate the public profile of the halutzot (Zionist women pioneers) in the Yishuv (Palestine Jewish settlement community) and to help the pioneer women’s cooperatives in Palestine through American-based philanthropic efforts.
Like so many middle-class Jewish women at the turn of the century, Seraphine Eppstein Pisko used her longtime experience in volunteer charitable work and her organizational talents to move into the realm of the professional workplace. In 1911, Pisko was appointed secretary of National Jewish Hospital (NJH) for Consumptives in Denver. She was later appointed executive secretary as well as vice president, and remained in control of day-to-day affairs at the hospital until her retirement twenty-seven years later in 1938.
Judith Plaskow is the first Jewish feminist to identify herself as a theologian. Deeply learned in classical and modern Christian theology yet profoundly committed to her own Judaism, Plaskow created a distinctively Jewish theology acutely conscious of its own structure and categories and in dialogue with the feminist theologies of other religions.
The Russian revolution of 1917 had made a convinced socialist of Nora Block and she soon realized that studying law would provide a better context for her ideas of the ideal society. Nora Block was interned with many other emigrants in the Vélodrome D’Hiver in Paris, under terrible conditions. Despite all the attempts to prevent both contact with the outside world and communication among the interned women in the camp, Nora Block managed to establish an office to help women who were unable to help themselves by translating letters and documents for them. She was appointed the first woman director of a German district court in 1951. In 1954 she ran for the Hessian State Parliament and was elected for three successive terms and served for six years as a deputy party whip.She was also a member of the Hessian Supreme Court, the committee for electing the judges and numerous other committees.
One of the legendary ballerinas of her generation, Maya Plisetskaya was born in Moscow in 1925. In 1959 Plisetskaya danced with the Bolshoi on its first, headline-making tour of the United States.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Encyclopedia." (Viewed on July 8, 2015) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/toc/P>.