Abzug's Jewish heritage remained an important part of her life from childhood on. .Whether she was participating in the famous annual Women's Seders, advocating for peace in the Middle East, calling for the ordination of women rabbis, or speaking on.Jewish women in politics, Abzug continued striking "blows for the liberation of Jewish.women." But at synagogue, even after all her years of battles, exclusion could still sting.just as it had when she was a child:
"And you know what an alliyah is, when you go up to the Torah and read from it? Well, my husband, who cannot read Hebrew, is always offered an alliyah...[but] because I'm a women and they don't have women... it's a Conservative Synagogue... here I am, many years in age from the time when I first studied... having never had an alliyah.... And I have a very dear friend...[whose] son was reaching the age of 13. And she wanted him to be bar mitzvahed.... And we all got scripts when we came in.... And I not only made a speech, but it was the first time in my whole life that I read from the Torah. And when I got up there to sing out the brochus, the prayers, I was shaking...tears came to my eyes."
1. On Abzug's Jewish feminism, see Joyce Antler, The Journey Home: Jewish Women and the American Century (New York: The Free Press, 1997) 278.
2. "And you know what an alliyah is..." quote from Bella Abzug, Transcript of Oral History Recording for "Women of Achievement" Series, William E. Wiener Oral History Library of the American Jewish Committee, housed at the New York Public Library, New York, 20 May 1983, 25-7.