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.
Jewish women played leading roles in the formative years of the General Jewish Workers’ Bund, which was established in the Tsarist Empire in 1897, and initially participated in the movement in large numbers. However, the Bund seems to have had somewhat less success in mobilizing women in independent Poland between the two world wars than it had during the Tsarist era.
Ruth Leah Bunzel began her career as anthropologist Franz Boas’s secretary and became an accomplished anthropologist herself. She broke new ground in her research on the artist and the creative process among the Zuni, her pioneering work on the Mayas in Guatemala, and her comparative study of alcoholism in two villages in Guatemala and Mexico.
A distinguished attorney who specialized in adoption and foster care issues and represented child welfare agencies and the children under their care, Helen Lehman Buttenwieser was born on October 8, 1905, and grew up in a Jewish family prominent in New York banking and philanthropic circles.
A well-known Canadian artist whose landscapes and images of people reflect her personal experiences and feelings as well as her social concerns, Caiserman-Roth was born in Montreal, which has been her life-long home.
In 1976, Cherie Koller-Fox and Jerry Benjamin, both students at the Harvard School of Education, called for and ultimately chaired a Jewish Students Network conference on Jewish education. Held in August 1976 at Brown University, it was called the “Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education” because, in Koller-Fox’s words, “the basic conference philosophy was to offer as many of the alternative approaches to teaching in one particular area as possible, and to communicate that there was a wide range of choices available in Jewish pedagogy.” The organizational name was changed to the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education in 1987, reflecting the evolving position of the group in the Jewish organization world.
Over the years, she became a journalist of international renown, writing for several leading newspapers in Italy and elsewhere, including Ma’ariv, Espresso, The Jewish Chronicle, The Religious News Service, Voce Repubblicana and others. Over the years, she became increasingly involved in Italian political and intellectual life, especially among the country’s Jews.
Hortense Calisher has been a significant presence in American letters for over forty years, producing novels, short stories, and memoirs of striking originality and intelligence.
The positive aspect of the Canadian mosaic has been a strong Jewish community (and other communities) which nurtured traditional ethnic and religious values and benefited from the talent and energy of women and men restrained from participation in the broader society. The negative aspect has included considerable antisemitism and, especially for women, the sometimes stifling narrowness and conservatism of the community which inhibited creative and exceptional people from charting their own individual paths.
The great synthesizer, bringing together Jewish feminism, Zionism, socialism, animal rights and concern for the environment, Aviva Cantor remains best known for her work as co-founder and editor of Lilith, the independent Jewish feminist magazine, her landmark Egalitarian Hagada, and her passionately analytical and theoretical volume Jewish Women/Jewish Men: The Legacy of Patriarchy in Jewish Life.
Shulamith Cantor not only directed the Hadassah School of Nursing in Jerusalem (later the Henrietta Szold Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Nursing), but was a leader and founder of the nursing profession in Palestine during the British Mandate Period (1920–1948) and the first years of statehood.
Though debate continues regarding the female cantorial profession, women’s voices increasingly come forth from pulpits in America, leading congregations in all the year-round calendar and life-cycle observances of the Jewish faith.
A successful Liberal Party politician, Caplan was born in Toronto, one of two daughters (the other is Carol Lou Hershorn Spiegel, b. 1946) of Samuel S. Hershorn, a manufacturer (b. Toronto, 1914), and Thelma (Goodman) Hershorn (b. Toronto, 1920), whose families had come to Canada from Russian Poland.
A savvy, tough, and elegant woman known by presidents, dictators, and almost everyone else simply as Shoshana, she has become perhaps the most widely respected and successful lay leader in the Jewish community of the 1980s and 1990s.
To sum up, the life of Jewish women in the Caribbean and the Guianas differed from that elsewhere in the Jewish world, since Jewish life had to adapt itself to the jungle, to isolated plantations and to small islands, with only limited contact with the outside world.
Hattie Carnegie led a fashion empire that set the pace of American fashion for nearly three decades.
In the late 1960s Judy and her husband were swept up in the Soviet Jewry campaign but soon refocused on the plight of Jews in Syria. Convinced that the approximately six thousand Jews of Syria needed strong western advocates, the couple organized a Syrian Jewish support committee.
Vera Caspary wrote twenty published novels and was a prolific screenwriter for Hollywood films.
Alarmed by reports of the growing numbers of young females arraigned in New York City’s children’s courts, the concerned women advocated the establishment of a Jewish girls’ correctional facility comparable to the existing Hawthorne School. Working independently, though in consultation with the Hawthorne School directors, the women founders raised the necessary funds and established the Cedar Knolls School for Girls (CK) in 1913.
The Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden (Reich Representation of German Jews) was established in September, 1933. Its headquarters were in Berlin-Charlottenburg, on the Kantstrasse. For German Jewry, this was an umbrella organization comprising all the political and religious groups of Jews living in Germany. Its main task was the coordination of Jewish self-help activities during the long and harsh persecutions of the Nazi era. Jewish self-help activities were widespread, innovative and charitable.
Peggy Charren, founder of Action for Children’s Television (ACT), took on the burgeoning television industry of the 1970s and won.
In 1948, following discussions as to whether women should be integrated into men’s units or whether separate battalions of women should be formed, which would serve in the brigade while remaining independent of it, the second option was chosen. Thus the Women’s Corps (“CHEN”—Hel Nashim) was founded on May 16, 1948.
Ranging from poetry to investigations of women’s eating disorders, from fictional autobiography to the story of a voice, Kim Chernin’s works radiate the “spiritual politics” she considers the essence of her Jewishness.
Ambivalent about Judaism, passionately Marxist, charismatic, courageous, Rose Chernin devoted a great deal of her life to securing the rights of disenfranchised citizens: the unemployed of the Depression, farm workers without a union, black home buyers thwarted by redlining, and other foreign-born leftists, like herself, who faced deportation in the 1950s.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Encyclopedia." (Viewed on September 3, 2015) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/toc>.