You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Family

Renee Brant

As a founding member of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, Renee Brant became a voice for those who could not speak for themselves.

The Power of Stories

When I was younger, if you had asked me which of the many Jewish holidays is my favorite, I would never have said Passover. The restrictions that Passover requires made it hard for me to enjoy the message behind the Passover story. Plus, the drama that Passover created in my family, with my parents running around the house cleaning, only added to the stress. My grandmother changed this feeling for me.

Sarah Thal

Sarah's husband had brothers living in Milwaukee who sent home glowing reports of the conditions in America. Intrigued, Sarah and Solomon immigrated to America in 1882.

Anna F. Solomon

Anna worked side by side with her husband. She ran Solomonville's store and the local hotel, all while raising their six children in a refined and cultured home in the midst of the desert southwest. Anna died in San Diego, California, in her late eighties on May 4, 1933.

Fanny Jaffe Sharlip

Fanny Sharlip was born in the small town of Borosna, Russia. In her memoirs written in 1947, she characterizes herself as a child "always hungry for knowledge. I asked too many questions. I was told over and over again that it was not healthy to know too much. I could not be harnessed by telling me that children don't have to know. That only made me more curious." Fanny loved school and was an excellent student. "I was very happy as only a child my age could be; I lived and breathed school.

Rachel Calof

Rachel first landed in New York. From there, she and Abraham journeyed to join his family already living on homesteads in North Dakota. They arrived in Devil's Lake in 1894. Rachel's memoir highlights her growing regard for her husband and her own struggle in adapting to the difficult conditions in which found herself. The early years were especially difficult—no privacy, extreme financial hardship, minimum fuel and food to get through the harsh winters.

Fanny Brooks

Fanny Bruck was born in 1837, in the small village of Schweidnitz, Germany, one of six children. Fanny was well educated and graduated with high honors. She was only 16 years old when she met Julius Brooks, a young man who had been lured to America by stories of the Gold Rush in 1847 and who had returned after five years to visit his family. They married in Breslau, Germany, on August 18th, 1853, and journeyed to America.

Hannah Greenebaum Solomon

In creating the first national association for Jewish women, Hannah Greenebaum Solomon redefined the roles they could play in American society.

All of the Above: Refusing to Choose

There was a moment in my late twenties when I seriously considered rabbinical school. I was changing careers, trying to figure out what my next step would be, and becoming a rabbi would have allowed me to blend my love of Jewish ritual, my intellectual curiosity, and my passion for helping people into a calling. It made sense, on a deep level. But the more I talked about it with friends who were already rabbis and rabbinical students, the more they cautioned me, “As a woman, if you become a rabbi and you’re not married yet, you need to accept that you’ll probably never marry. Men don’t want to date women who are authority figures; it’s too emasculating.” I wanted to be a rabbi. But I also wanted marriage and children. When I believed that I needed to choose between them, I couldn’t bear the thought of never having children of my own. I quietly turned my focus to other graduate programs.

A Tradition of Taking Risks

In traditional society, men are seen as the risk takers, while women are supposed to be docile homemakers. When women step up to the plate, it stands out. To me, the women who bravely put aside their fears and take matters into their own hands are the ones who make the difference and are role models for all people.

In the Torah, there is a story of two women, Shifra and Puah, and the risks they took to save the lives of some children in Egypt. These midwives worked for the Israelites and took orders from Pharaoh, who knew the two of them and specifically told them to kill any male children born to Hebrew mothers, but they chose to not listen to him. It’s not clear if these two women were part of the Jewish people or if they were Egyptians. Still, their story takes place for a reason, not just to explain how Moses survived, but also to bring a lesson to future Jews about courage and the impact of the risks they take.

Pages

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Family." (Viewed on October 23, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/family>.

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