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Encyclopedia

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.

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Showing 1 - 25 of 2020
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Sarah Aaronsohn

The semi-military role Sarah carved for herself in the underground, her activity and her voluntary death made her an icon and a model of a new “Hebrew” femininity, a model especially cultivated within the so-called civic sector of the Jewish Yishuv in Palestine (defined as distinct from the socialist labor sector, dominant throughout the period before the late 1970s).

Lina Abarbanell

Abarbanell’s success lay in lighter musical fare and operetta. Composers such as Oscar Straus, Franz Lehár, and Edmund Eysler wrote for her expressive soubrette voice. She made about twenty recordings in 1903 and 1904, only four of which appear to have survived. In 1905, Heinrich Conried, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, invited her to sing the role of Hänsel and to perform at his Irving Place Theater, where she delighted his German-speaking audiences.

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Rosalie Silberman Abella

Justice Rosalie Abella's life has been a series of "firsts": She was Canada's first Jewish woman judge and the country’s youngest ever. She was the first woman chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board and the first woman in the British Commonwealth to become the head of a Law Reform Commission. In August 2004, she was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, becoming the first Jewish woman to sit on the Canadian Supreme Court bench.

Abigail: Bible

Abigail is the wife of Nabal the Calebite from Carmel and later becomes the second wife of David. According to 1 Samuel 25, Abigail is married to Nabal, a wealthy rancher, and she is described as beautiful and intelligent.

Abigail: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis depict Abigail as a wise and practical woman, capable of acting at the right moment and in the right way. She saves David from committing unnecessary bloodshed, while at the same time assuring her future.

Abishag: Bible

When King David (reigned c. 1005–965 bce) ages and his health fails, a beautiful young woman is sought throughout Israel to lie in his bosom and keep him warm. The king does not have sexual relations with Abishag (I Kgs 1:4).

Abishag: Midrash and Aggadah

Abishag is described in Rabbinic literature as a woman possessing self-respect and a mind of her own, who is not deterred from confronting King David himself.

Abortion

The chief biblical source referring to abortion is Exodus 21:22–25 concerning the man who inadvertently strikes a pregnant woman, causing her to lose the pregnancy.

Dina Abramowicz

Renowned for her remarkable skills as a reference librarian, Dina Abramowicz built an impressive library collection at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, where she worked since 1947. Her scholarship and expertise, praised by readers and writers alike, were celebrated by both library and cultural achievement awards.

Benvenida Abravanel

Benvenida Abravanel was one of the most influential and wealthiest Jewish women of early modern Italy.

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Bella Abzug

Born in the Bronx on July 24, 1920, Bella (Savitzky) Abzug predated women’s right to vote by one month. A tireless and indomitable fighter for justice and peace, equal rights, human dignity, environmental integrity and sustainable development, Bella Abzug advanced human goals and political alliances worldwide.

Academia in Israel

Women faculty members in the higher education system in Israel share with their sisters in other Western developed countries characteristics regarding proportions, promotions, and positions. They constitute a small minority of the total tenure-track faculty, with somewhat larger minorities in the humanities and social sciences, and very small minorities in the physical sciences and engineering.

Achsah: Bible

Achsah is the daughter of Caleb, according to the genealogy of the tribe of Judah. She is given to Othniel, son of Kenaz, brother of Caleb, in exchange for his taking of Kiriath-sepher (identified as Debir in Judges).

Achsah: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis describe Achsah as being a beauty, finding an allusion to this in her name: “Whoever sees her is angry [koes] with his wife,” who is not as ravishing as she is (BT Temurah 16a).

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Paula Ackerman

At the turn of the twentieth century, a young girl from Pensacola, Florida, named Paula Herskovitz dreamed of one day becoming a medical doctor. Believing that the medical profession was unsuitable for women, her father insisted that she abandon her dream. Yet decades later, she embarked upon a career he no doubt would have found equally unsuitable: she became a spiritual leader.

Adah 1: Bible

According to the genealogy of Gen 4:17–19, Adah is one of the two wives of Lamech and the mother of two sons. Those sons, along with the son and daughter of her co-wife, Zillah, are in the seventh generation of naturally born human beings.

Adah 1: Midrash and Aggadah

According to the aggadic tradition, Lamech took two wives, one for sexual pleasure and the other for procreation. One wife would be in his company adorned like a harlot, and he plied her with a drug that induced barrenness, so that she would not give birth; the other sat alone, like a widow. Lamech’s behavior graphically attests to the process of spiritual decline from one generation to the next and the corruption of the Flood generation.

Adah 2: Bible

Adah, the daughter of Elon the Hittite, marries Esau, one of the two sons of Jacob and Rebekah, to whom she bears Eliphaz. Esau’s marriage to a woman outside his family’s descent line results in his exclusion from the endogamous patrilineage of Abraham’s father, Terah.

Orit Adato

Adato enlisted in the IDF in 1973 and in due course served successively as commander of the two central Women’s Corps training bases (1994–1997), commander of the Women Teacher-Soldiers unit, and commander of the women in Nahal, where she directed the assistance given to immigrants from Ethiopia and the USSR. In 1997, she was promoted to the position of head of the Women’s Corps as a brigadier general at a time when the corps was in the process of being radically reorganized.

Angelica Adelstein-Rozeanu

Adelstein-Rozeanu was the first Romanian woman to win a world title in any sport. Between 1950 and 1955 she won seventeen world titles, including six straight singles championships. She took the world women’s double title three times (1953, 1955 and 1956) and the world’s mixed doubles title three times (1951–1953).

Barbara Ochs Adler

A proud United States citizen and active civic leader, Barbara Ochs Adler was a committed advocate for social welfare. Her life’s work, which combined important contributions to both Jewish and American social service organizations, paints a portrait of a woman who strongly identified herself as both Jewish and American.

Celia Adler

Celia Adler’s popularity as a Yiddish actor made her a force in the Yiddish art theater movement, where she succeeded despite her lack of a powerful male protector. She was acclaimed for her ability to combine pathos and charm, and those who witnessed her performances especially remember her talent for comedy.

Helen Goldmark Adler

Helen Adler helped her husband establish the first model tenements at Cherry Street as well as the first free kindergarten in America, called the Working Man’s School, and later the Ethical Culture School at Fieldston. She took an active part in the visiting nurses’ service for the poor at the DeMilt Dispensary, the oldest clinic in the city, which Felix had initiated in 1877. With the assistance of a Dr. Koplik, she helped cut the infant death rate by having milk bottled safely at the Laboratory Department for Modified Milk for Tenement Babies, which Koplik and Adler founded in 1891.

Polly Adler

Polly Adler, owner of a notorious New York City bordello, had a clear goal: to become “the best goddam madam in all America.”

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Rachel Adler

The writings of Rachel Adler on Jewish law and ritual have catapulted her into the center of modern Jewish religious discourse, and she is unquestionably among the leading constructive Jewish theologians, translators and liturgists of the modern era, garnering attention from Jewish and non-Jewish scholars, women and men alike.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Encyclopedia." (Viewed on September 2, 2014) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/toc/all>.

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