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Activism

Fania Mindell arrested for distributing birth control material.

October 26, 1916

Fania Mindell, Margaret Sanger, and Ethel Byrne opened the first birth control clinic in the United States in Brooklyn in 1916.

Figuring It Out

So how in the world was the rigid, traditional, millenniums-old practice of Judaism in any way connected to feminism, a movement that aims to restructure societies’ ideals and question tradition? How could I identify as both a believing Jew and as a feminist, not to mention lumping them together into one phrase? The more I repeated them to myself, the more the words ‘Jewish’ and ‘feminist’ sounded incorrect side by side, like “candied broccoli” or “kind bigot.”

Martine Rothblatt

CEO Martine Rothblatt’s fascination with interconnectivity led her to found both GeoStar and Sirius Radio, but it was her drive to save her daughter’s life that led her to create biotech company United Therapeutics Corporation.

Looking Over the Mechitza

Although I wish they were, feminism and Judaism are not congruous in my life. I am a feminist. I am a Jew. But when I put them together, they clash. In my life, being Jewish means that I am a part of my Modern Orthodox community, it means that I go to shul every week and sit in my designated place on the left side of the mechitza, the low wall that separates men and women during prayer.

Questioning My Identity from the Backseat

Why am I both burdened and liberated by the rich history that precedes me, and how do I identify myself with it accordingly? I remember sitting in a car outside of a Dunkin Donuts when I first pondered this question. Watching the cars drive along the highway, I tried to discern the faces of the drivers—discover their races, religions and genders in order to associate their appearances with stereotypical status and privilege. I wondered about myself—how I could fit in among the mosaic of peoples when my own identity seemed so misshapen.

Women's Health Activists

Putting Women's Health in Their Own Hands

Sex Educators

Teaching women about their bodies, their rights, and their pleasure

Torah Reading Between the Lines

A few Saturday mornings a month, my Dad and I go to synagogue to read Torah. We drive there, even though my synagogue is within walking distance; my Dad often has errands to run, or I have a dance class I need to make, two activities that cannot be accomplished efficiently through walking. We pull into the parking lot, pry open the synagogue’s heavy wooden doors, and take our seats at the very back of the sanctuary. Within thirty minutes, as the Torah is being lifted in the air for the ritual of hagbah, we are out of there.

Rusty Kanokogi

The first woman allowed to train with male judo students at Japan’s judo headquarters, the Kodokan, Rena “Rusty” Kanokogi pioneered women’s judo as an Olympic sport.

Sarah Hughes

In a thrilling, surprise victory, Sarah Hughes won the gold medal for figure skating at the 2002 Olympics, becoming the first American to win that honor without ever having won a World or US senior national title.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Activism." (Viewed on December 17, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/activism>.

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