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Top 10 Jewish Women in Labor History

10 Things You Should Know About Gertrude Weil

Gertrude Weil was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina in 1879. Her father, an immigrant from Germany, was among the business and civic leaders of the community. At the age of 15, she was sent to Horace Mann High School in New York City. She went on to Smith College, where, in 1901, she became the first graduate from North Carolina.

10 Things You Should Know About Fannia Cohn

  1. Fannia Cohn, born in 1885, grew up in a well-to-do family in what was the western part of the Russian empire:  Kletzk, now part of Belarus. She was educated at home, and by the time she was 15, she was involved in secret revolutionary activities.

  2. Just before turning 20, she and her brother immigrated to the U.S. aided by wealthy relatives who were already here. Fannia’s first job in the U.S. was with the American Jewish Women’s Committee helping other Jewish women arriving at Ellis Island.

10 Things You Should Know About Emma Lazarus

Emma Lazarus was born in 1849 to Moses and Esther Nathan Lazarus, descendants of the pioneering group of Spanish and Portuguese Jews who settled in New Amsterdam in the mid 1600s.

10 Things You Should Know About Pauline Newman

Born in Kovno, Lithuania, in 1890, Pauline Newman was barred from the local public school because she was Jewish. As a girl, her opportunities for a Jewish education were limited. Her father tutored well-to-do boys in Talmud; he eventually allowed her to attend Sunday classes, where she learned to read and write both Yiddish and Hebrew. The obstacles she faced in getting an education motivated her to fight for gender equality later in her life.

10 Things You Should Know About Belle Moskowitz

Born in Harlem in 1877, Belle Moskowitz (née Lindner) enjoyed a successful career as a reformer, settlement worker, and labor mediator before becoming a force in Democratic politics in the 1920s. A close advisor to New York governor and presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith, by the 1928 elections she was the most powerful woman in the Democratic Party.

10 Things You Should Know About Clara Lemlich

When Clara Lemlich was growing up in the Ukraine, her religious parents did not want their daughter learning Russian, the language of an antisemitic empire. But the strong minded girl was drawn to Russia’s literary masters—Tolstoy, Gorky, and Turgenev—and to the revolutionary literature being written in Russian. She took on odd jobs—sewing buttons, teaching folk songs, writing letters for illiterate women—to pay for Russian lessons and later for books she kept hidden from her family.

10 Things You Should Know About Bessie Abramowitz Hillman

Born in 1889, Bessie Abramowitz Hillman grew up in the Russian empire, in the city of Grodno, now part of Belarus. When she was 15, she immigrated to America “to escape a marriage broker,” she later said. She settled in Chicago, where she had distant relatives. She was soon involved in the fight for better wages and working conditions.

10 Things You Should Know About Rose Schneiderman

Born in 1882 into a devout Jewish family in Saven, Poland, Rose Schneiderman was raised from an early age to believe she was capable of doing anything a man could do. Her parents enrolled her in a Jewish school at the age of four. Two years later, the family moved to the city of Chelm so that Rose could attend a Russian public school and receive an excellent secular education.

10 Things You Should Know About Rose Pesotta

Rakhel Peisoty, who later changed her name to Rose Pesotta, was born in 1896 in a Ukrainian railroad town that was then part of the Russian Empire. Even as a child, she had the passionate convictions that would guide her later life as a labor activist and anarchist. Rose’s older sister, who belonged to an underground anarchist group, encouraged her to read the works of social revolutionaries. Rose attended a school for girls that taught a standard Russian curriculum, while offering secret lessons in Jewish history and Hebrew.

The Top 10 Jewish Women in Labor History

Though we at JWA celebrate women’s history all year round, March brings us the great opportunity of Women’s History Month.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Top 10 Jewish Women in Labor History." (Viewed on November 27, 2014) <http://jwa.org/tags/top-10-jewish-women-in-labor-history>.

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