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Partisans and Resistance

Edith Flagg

Edith Flagg built a multi–million–dollar fashion empire through her innovative use of polyester.

Haika Grosman

From Zionist leadership in war-wracked Europe to her career in the Israeli Knesset, Haika Grosman displayed uncommon strength of character and steadfastness to her ideals.

Dina Abramowicz

After surviving the Holocaust, Dina Abramowicz reconstituted her rich cultural heritage as the formidable head librarian of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt grappled with the Holocaust throughout her lifetime, creating the concept of “the banality of evil” to understand the widespread complicity in the mass killings.

Denise Schorr

As a member of the French Resistance, Denise Schorr began saving Jewish children when she was still just seventeen.

A Tradition of Taking Risks

In traditional society, men are seen as the risk takers, while women are supposed to be docile homemakers. When women step up to the plate, it stands out. To me, the women who bravely put aside their fears and take matters into their own hands are the ones who make the difference and are role models for all people.

In the Torah, there is a story of two women, Shifra and Puah, and the risks they took to save the lives of some children in Egypt. These midwives worked for the Israelites and took orders from Pharaoh, who knew the two of them and specifically told them to kill any male children born to Hebrew mothers, but they chose to not listen to him. It’s not clear if these two women were part of the Jewish people or if they were Egyptians. Still, their story takes place for a reason, not just to explain how Moses survived, but also to bring a lesson to future Jews about courage and the impact of the risks they take.

Irena Sendler saves Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto

October 20, 1943

Irena Sendler Saves Jewish Children from the Warsaw Ghetto

What can we learn from Jewish women partisans? Jewish Partisan Education Foundation announces 2012 Youth Writing Contest

Thanks to the success of feature film Defiance (2008), Americans now associate the history of Jewish partisans with the hunky Bielski brothers, played by Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jaime Bell. In the film's depiction of their society hidden deep in the forest women contributed by cooking and gathering food but not so much as leaders or fighters. The real story of female Jewish partisans--in the Bielski encampment and elsewhere--is, of course, much richer.

Helen Mahut, 1920 - 2010

My friendship with Helen is one I shall always cherish. Although tumultuous, our relationship had an enormous impact on me.

I met Helen through my brother-in-law, who lived in the same small apartment building as Helen. Formidable in her demeanor, she could embody righteous indignation like no one else I knew. Admittedly, I was a bit afraid of her, but I was also curious about her. I ended up moving into Helen’s building soon after meeting her, and our friendship began.

Super Mamika

French photographer Sacha Goldberger found his 91 year-old grandmother Frederika feeling depressed. To cheer her up, he convinced her to appear in a photoshoot as a superhero. The result is outrageous, brilliant, and bold. 

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Partisans and Resistance." (Viewed on October 24, 2014) <http://jwa.org/tags/partisans-and-resistance>.

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