Browse this section for short profiles of some of the thousands of Jewish women found throughout jwa.org. We will be adding new profiles to this section regularly and welcome your suggestions for women to add.
It took until she was eighty-two for Marie Grunfeld Jastrow to find a publisher for her autobiographies, but her two compelling memoirs of coming of age as a Jewish immigrant in New York touched audiences deeply.
Known for her long-time collaboration with Merchant Ivory Films, novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is the only writer to have won both a Booker Prize and the Academy Award for her work.
Having escaped the Holocaust on the strength of her musical talents, Tziporah H. Jochsberger went on to use music to instill Jewish pride in her students.
Lydia Joel began her dance career as a performer, but it was as the editor of Dance Magazine that she had the greatest impact on the field.
Regina Jonas made history as the first woman rabbi after writing a thesis arguing for the halakhic permissibility of women’s ordination.
Called the “grandmother of American puppetry“ for her definitive history of puppets and marionettes, Helen Haiman Joseph was also known for her own practice of the craft as a talented designer and director.
Geri M. Joseph distinguished herself both as a journalist covering vital stories and as US ambassador to the Netherlands during a diplomatic crisis.
Hannah Jukovsky made headlines when she organized a boycott of standardized testing to draw attention to class and race inequities in Massachusetts public schools.
Esther Jungreis played a significant role in drawing nonobservant young Jews to Orthodox Judaism through her dynamic public speaking and her organization, Hineni.
During the Depression, Dorothy C. Kahn helped pioneer social work as a service provided by the government to all who needed it, instead of the responsibility of just private or religious charities.
Madeline Kahn acted in dramas and musicals on stage, film, and television, but she was best known for her comedic roles as Mel Brooks’s favorite female lead.
Florence Prag Kahn made history as the first Jewish woman to serve in Congress, first filling her husband’s seat and then in her own right, with Alice Roosevelt Longworth commenting that she was “the equal of any man in Congress, and the superior of most.”
Called “publishing’s grande dame of detective stories” by the LA Times in 1988, Joan Kahn had such a gift for choosing and editing bestselling mystery novels that her publisher put her name on their book covers to entice readers.
Through her celebrated satirical poetry, Mascha Kaléko voiced her experience of the growing threat of Nazism in Germany and the pain of being a refugee.
A distinguished performer, Bertha Kalich performed 125 roles in seven languages and became the first actress to make the transition from Yiddish theater to mainstream American drama in film, radio, and on stage.
With her typical ingenuity, Lizzie Black Kander turned the recipe book she made for a cooking class for new immigrants into a two-million-copy bestseller.
Told that women could only write movies about dating and relationships, Fay Kanin defied conventional wisdom to write award-winning dramas about subjects ranging from prostitution to deaths in Vietnam.
The first woman allowed to train with male judo students at Japan’s judo headquarters, the Kodokan, Rena “Rusty” Kanokogi pioneered women’s judo as an Olympic sport.
Anna Kaplan helped transform nursing in Israel by holding it to the best standards of medical care from around the world.
The founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, Mordecai Kaplan struck a fundamental blow for women’s participation in Jewish ritual with the bat mitzvah of his eldest daughter, Judith.
Despite her own failing health, Rose Kaplan insisted on nursing Jewish settlers in Palestine and refugees in Egypt and inspired others to follow her example.
As executive director of Hadassah, Aline Kaplan credited the organization’s success to the commitment of its volunteers, whose numbers grew to a staggering 370,000 during her tenure. Kaplan practiced estate law from 1946–1952 but left to become director of Junior Hadassah, feeling a need to participate more in the Jewish community. Beginning in 1956, she was a five-time delegate to the World Zionist Congress.
Regina “Kappy” Kaplan helped break down gender barriers in medicine by creating the first nursing school in the South that admitted male students.
Donna Karan brought a modern sensibility to women’s clothing by designing interchangeable pieces in simple black and bold colors that were meant for professional women, not just fashion runway models.
May Karff made her mark in the traditionally male bastion of professional chess as the first woman champion of the United States in 1938.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "People." (Viewed on November 1, 2014) <http://jwa.org/people>.