Exhibit: Women Who Dared
BiographiesMultimediaBy CityAbout WWD Jewish Gender Activism
        
Biography
What She Said
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  Ruth Rothstein
  Public Health Leader
  Chicago WWD Event 2003
 
  Created national models for access and delivery of health care services for residents of disadvantaged communities.
 
Biography  up to top

As Chief of Cook County Bureau of Health Services, the third largest public health system in the nation, 79-year-old Ruth Rothstein oversees an immense safety net for the disadvantaged. She not only resuscitated the system's flagship hospital but also established thirty neighborhood outpatient clinics. Her commitment to helping others began in Depression-era Brooklyn, in the Jewish neighborhood of Brownsville, where she accompanied her father to union meetings and socialist demonstrations. "When I was about eleven years old I was already speaking on the street corner" about the need for work relief, she recalls. As a union organizer, she participated in pickets, organized women factory workers, and documented cases of corporate racial and sex discrimination. Her activism once resulted in a thirty-day jail sentence. With no college degree and few female role models, Ruth had difficulty convincing male employers of her abilities. As an applicant at Mt. Sinai Hospital in the 1960s, she was told that they would rather have a man, and needed someone with a master's degree. She not only got the job, but six years later was president of the hospital. "My mother and father truly believed that I could do anything, and they treated me that way." She helped Mt. Sinai transition from a Jewish hospital isolated from its increasingly African-American and Hispanic neighborhood into an integral part of its West Side community and a beacon for area residents. "I care about the welfare of people, about social values, that's where I came from and thatís what I believe in." As a national leader in the field of public health, Ruth likes to remind audiences of her Jewish heritage. "I want people to know that we had a value system where women were able to do this within our community, and that we make important contributions." In the process, she became the kind of female role model and mentor she never had. "I always tell women, look back and take another women with you." /p>

 
What She Said  up to top
ON JEWISH VALUES
I have never made a speech of any consequence where I haven't told everybody that I was Jewish. ...More 
ON FAMILY UPBRINGING
My mother and father truly believed that I could do anything. ...More 
ON ROLE MODELS
Remember my role models weren't necessarily women, because they weren't there. ...More 
ON BEING A WOMAN ACTIVIST
It took a couple of years before they learned that this was the reality and that I was only the beginning of what was going to happen to them in health care... ...More 
ON WORK AND FAMILY
The question that you are really asking me is, can you have it all? Can you have a family and be in the workforce and work as many hours as is necessary to do the job? ...More 
ON TRADITIONAL ROLES
I had to work harder and smarter to be recognized. ...More 
ON WOMEN'S MOVEMENT
The one positive thing, if the women's movement did anything, it enabled women to have options. ...More 
ON PATH TO ACTIVISM
I was more involved in what was going on in the world. In fact, when I was about eleven years old I was already speaking on a street corner. ...More 
ON IMPACT ON SELF
Remember, I don't have a college degree, this is my college degree, and it's an advanced degree. ...More 
 
Multimedia  up to top
Photographs Photographs
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How to Cite This Page
For a bibliography: Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Ruth Rothstein." <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=prrothstein>.

For a footnote: Jewish Women's Archive, "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Ruth Rothstein," <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=prrothstein>.