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Rosalyn Sussman Yalow

The Lives They Lived: Jewish women to remember in 2011

“[Debbie Friedman] emphasized the value of every voice and the power of song to help us express ourselves and become our best selves. As she wrote for JWA's online exhibit Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution: 'The more our voices are heard in song, the more we become our lyrics, our prayers, and our convictions.' The woman who wrote the song that asks God to 'help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing' herself modeled for us what that looks like.”—Judith Rosenbaum.
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Rosalyn Sussman Yalow, 1921 - 2011

A Jewish woman whose father-in-law is a rabbi, who keeps a kosher home, who invites her lab assistants to Passover seders, and worries about them catching colds is not the typical image of a Nobel Prize winner. But it is the image of Rosalyn Yalow, the first woman born and educated in the United States to win a Nobel Prize in a scientific field.

Hunter College

Long known as the “Jewish Girls’ Radcliffe,” Hunter College of the City University of New York was founded in 1870 as the Normal College of the City of New York. It was a public, tuition-free secondary and teacher-training school that admitted students solely on the basis of academic merit, determined by competitive examination, and by residency in the city. Over the years, it became a haven for academically advanced students unable to afford more costly schools or to gain admission to institutions with more restrictive admissions criteria. Women who were considered “socially undesirable”—African Americans, Catholics, and Jews, especially those from Eastern Europe—attended Hunter in disproportionate numbers. Hunter’s student body, therefore, differed significantly from that of other women’s colleges in America. From 1900 to the end of World War II, decades when many institutions of higher education implemented policies of selective admissions specifically designed to deflect minority students, Hunter gladly welcomed these same women. Hunter educated scores of intellectually gifted and professionally talented women whose skills and achievements amply repaid the city’s largesse.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rosalyn Sussman Yalow." (Viewed on December 19, 2014) <http://jwa.org/taxonomy/term/16954>.

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