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Agriculture

Sarah Malkhin

Sarah Malkhin, one of the first women agricultural laborers of the Second [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:293]Aliyah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] (1904–1914), died at the age of sixty-four in the first year of the State of Israel. Since she had been ill for many years, she was not even aware of the dramatic events transpiring all around her. Her death prompted many veteran Israelis to recall the achievements of the small group of trailblazing female laborers of the Second Aliyah, who had faced immense opposition and challenges in their lifetimes and whose influence would be felt only many years later.

Hannah Maisel-Shohat

Hannah Maisel was born on December 12, 1883 to an affluent family in the city of Grodno (Horodno, Belarus). Her father, Yitzchak Maisel, an exporter of wheat and furs to western Europe, emigrated to Palestine after World War I and died c. 1936–1937. Her mother, Reizel, a homemaker, died in 1927. Hannah was the fifth of their twelve children and the fourth daughter. Eight of the children ultimately emigrated to Palestine. One daughter, Rachel, committed suicide in Jaffa in 1910. Leah, who married on the same day as Hannah, was a teacher in Safed. She became one of the founders of the Hebrew Women’s Organization (Histadrut Nashim Ivriyyot) and later treasurer of Wizo. She was also a candidate for the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:345]Knesset[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary]. Others who came to Palestine were David Misha Baruch, Liza and Dora. The latter committed suicide after losing two children in World War I. Sarah, who went to Switzerland to study medicine, also committed suicide. Two brothers, Gershon and Motke, emigrated to the United States, where Hannah visited them in the 1950s.

Ada Maimon (Fishman)

One of the “spiritual mothers” and historians of Jewish feminism in Israel, Ada Maimon was a teacher by profession and a member of Ha-Po’el ha-Za’ir from 1913 to 1920. She was also one of the founders of Mo’ezet Ha-Po’alot, the General Council of Women Workers in Israel, and its secretary-general from its founding in 1921 to 1926. When she completed her term of office she founded Ayanot, a women’s farm near Nes Ziyyonah. With the establishment of the state, she served as a Mapai party member of the first and second Knessets and was responsible for the legislation of various laws related to women’s equality. Her public activity, together with her role as historian of the feminist movement in Israel, were part of a long, determined struggle on behalf of Jewish women in Israeli society and, even more pronouncedly, in the Jewish religion. This struggle led to frequent conflicts between Maimon and the leaders of the Histadrut and the Labor Party, as well as to arguments with representatives of the religious parties and the Israeli Orthodox establishment.

Kibbutz Ha-Dati Movement (1929-1948)

Agricultural settlements based on the collective principles of the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:342]kibbutz[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] were among the outstanding enterprises of the Zionist movement. While agricultural settlement was an important value in religious Zionism as well, those members of the religious Zionist movement who joined collective settlements constituted a unique group.

Kibbutz

As a secular and democratic community, the kibbutz—first founded in 1910—strove to implement egalitarian principles as expressed in the slogan: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” In addition, from the 1920s on, due to [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:342]kibbutz[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] women’s collective action, gender equality became part and parcel of the kibbutz movement’s normative discourse, a kind of “self-understood symbol of this classless society” (Bernstein, 1992; Fogiel-Bijaoui, 1992; Izraeli, 1992; Near, 1992; Reinharz, 1992).

Roza Shoshana Joffe

Roza Shoshana Joffe was born in Bristovka in the Yekaterinoslav province, “a distant village in the Ukraine where hatred and contempt for Jews reigned supreme.” Her mother, Duva (d. April 13, 1917), did not have the benefit of formal education but was nevertheless a woman of the book, who diligently read her children books from the family’s well-stocked library, taught them to read with the aid of dice games, and educated them in “the liberal ideology of justice, brotherhood and equality.”

Amelia Greenwald

As an international public health nurse during World War I and between the wars, Amelia Greenwald was a leader in the field of public health. She was born in Gainesville, Alabama, on March 1, 1881, to Joseph Greenwald (a grain dealer and mayor) and Elisha (Elise Haas) Greenwald, German Jewish immigrants who married in Memphis, Tennessee. She was the youngest of eight children: Isaac, Carrie, Jake, Morris, Sylvester, Julian, and Isadore. On her father’s knee, Greenwald listened to stories of the Confederate nurses during the Civil War and knew that she wanted to became a trained nurse.

Bessie Goldstein Gotsfeld

Bessie Goldstein Gotsfeld’s name is synonymous with American Mizrachi Women (known today as Amit), the religious organization she helped to form. For thirty years, Gotsfeld was the Palestine (later Israel) representative for the organization. She supervised the establishment of vocational schools, children’s villages, and farms for religious youth, and forged a connection between women in the United States and children in Israel.

Shira Gorshman

A multi-faceted Yiddish writer, Shira Gorshman (who also wrote under the names Shirke Goman, Shire Gorman and Szyrke Gorszman) embodied the vision and struggles of Jewish socialism throughout her long and productive life. She was a passionate and tireless participant in the major social movements of the twentieth century and bore witness in her memoirs and fiction to all their configurations and manifestations.

Shulamit Goldstein

In 1942, Irgun Zeva'i Le'ummi member Shulamit Goldstein went to Egypt to learn to fly. Later in life, she became a nursery school teacher, a poultry farmer and a fiberglass manufacturer.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Agriculture." (Viewed on October 2, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/agriculture>.

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