You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Henrietta Szold

Rabbis in the United States

Jewish women’s recent entrance to the brotherhood of the rabbinate masks a lengthy history of the question of women’s ordination.

Politics in the Yishuv and Israel

Women’s status in Israeli political arena has been shaped by two major contradictory forces that operate simultaneously. On the one hand, women are defined as part of the collective and are recognized, treated, and organized as a social category, mainly on the basis of traditional roles as wives and mothers. On the other hand, the politics of identity has been restricted by marginalizing and denouncing social identity as a basis for political action, and thus excludes women.

Political Parties in the Yishuv and Israel

Women’s parties have played a major, though so far unacknowledged, role in the social and political history of Israel: they had a significant impact on women’s participation in power centers, political and others; they played a major part in the struggle for women’s right to vote and to be elected; they brought into focus the economic discrimination against women, who constitute half of the population in the labor market; they made feminist discourse about gender equality widely known and discussed.

Leisure and Recreation in the United States

In the wake of the Civil War, one of the bloodiest wars in the nation’s history, Americans discovered pleasure. “Vacation” became a verb as well as a noun and, in some quarters, even a form of moral exhortation. A vacation, insisted reformer Melvil Dewey, is not just a luxury but a “necessity for those who aim to do a large amount of high-grade work.” Well-to-do, hardworking German-born Jews of the 1870s heeded Dewey’s words. Like other affluent Americans, they vacationed at Saratoga Springs, then one of the country’s premier watering holes, had enjoyed the bracing sea air of the New Jersey shore where luxuriously appointed hotels dotted the beach. “Fond of fun and frolic,” they spent their mornings and afternoons promenading on the boardwalks and boulevards of America’s resort towns; in the evenings they dined, danced, and gambled. America, they believed, was truly God’s playground.

Leadership and Authority

All early biblical leaders of the Jewish people were elected by God. The matriarchs and patriarchs, priests, prophets, kings, judges and warriors were chosen by divine plan to lead the nation at different points in its history. The [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] offers us glimpses into the relationships between Sarah and Abraham, Rebecca and Isaac, Rachel, Leah and Jacob, based on the principle that ma’aseh avot siman le-banim (the deeds of the ancestors serve as a model for the descendents). Beyond the biblical text, the influence of matriarchal faith and insight is conveyed in the midrashic literature which expands the role of wife, helper and mother to include prophetess, teacher and visionary. Yet it is clear from the biblical narrative that females did not serve in the broader leadership roles filled by males.

Histadrut Nashim Ivriot (Hebrew Women's Organization)

Though the Hebrew Women’s Organization was founded in Palestine only in 1920, a great deal of women’s activism preceded it by several years, both on [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:342]kibbutzim[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] and in cities and settlements. The years after World War I and the Balfour Declaration, which followed the British takeover of Palestine from the Turks, were the beginning of a new era in the building up of Palestine. The Zionists felt in their bones that two thousand years of exile were coming to an end, and in this thrilling atmosphere set to work to build the national homeland.

Hadassah: Yishuv to the Present Day

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA) (hereafter: Hadassah) has a lengthy history of activity in the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:432]Yishuv[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] and Israel, going back to 1913, about a year after it was founded in New York, and continuing to this day, with the exception of a short period during World War I. This activity, outstanding in its scope, continuity, stability and diversity, encompasses efforts in the sphere of health and medical services, and in the welfare of children and youth through support of Youth [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:293]Aliyah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], vocational education, vocational training and more.

Autobiography in the United States

Accounts of the immigrant experience, of feminist and/or activist involvement, of the changing role of women in Jewish and American life, as well as literary and political autobiographies, Holocaust survival narratives, and coming-of-age memoirs are all categories of autobiography to which American Jewish women have contributed copiously.

A shuk of stories

Today is the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, and I'd like to mark it not (only) by eating falafel but with something less tangible but ultimately more nourishing: considering stories. Sixty years is only half way to 120 - the mythical age Jews wish upon one another - but this "half life" contains within it so many dreams and visions, loves and losses, hopes and fears, connections and fractures, struggles that remain unresolved.

A Jewess In Command!

Big news! Earlier this week, National President of Hadassah, June Walker, was nominated as the Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations has (shockingly) had only one woman Chair in its history: Shoshana Cardin who served from 1990-1992.

Pages

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Henrietta Szold." (Viewed on September 18, 2014) <http://jwa.org/taxonomy/term/9958>.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Sign Up for JWA eNews

 

Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs