This Week in History


Birth of essayist and suffragist Nina Morais Cohen

December 6, 1855

Nina Morais Cohen, the daughter of Sabato Morais, a prominent Orthodox rabbi and a leading exponent of traditional Judaism—established her own strong voice as an advocate for women’s rights within Judaism and American society. Born on December 6, 1855, in Philadelphia, where her father served the congregation Mikveh Israel, Nina Morais grew up very involved in her father’s work and concerns. As a young woman she published widely on the subject of women’s rights and roles in Judaism in both the Jewish and secular press.

After her marriage to attorney Emanuel Cohen in 1885, she moved to Minneapolis, where she became a local leader in the woman suffrage movement and in the Jewish community. She participated in the 1893 Jewish Women’s Congress in Chicago and returned to Minneapolis to found a local section of the newly formed National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) in 1894. She served as section president until 1907. For 13 years, she drew upon her extensive Jewish education to lead study sessions for local NCJW members in her home on Saturday afternoons.

To learn more about Nina Morais Cohen, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

Source: Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 248-249.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Birth of essayist and suffragist Nina Morais Cohen." (Viewed on April 19, 2014) <>.