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Women's Rights

Israela Oron

Israela Oron was active in effecting women’s integration into the military and in ensuring the recognition of their enormous potential in contributing to the Israel Defense Forces.

Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Israel, 1948-2000

Women’s organizations have been at the forefront of the struggle for women’s equality in Israel. In the early years of Israel’s statehood, they played an active role in providing women with essential services such as child-care and vocational training. In later years they concentrated on the struggle for gender equality, employing educational and political strategies.

Ora Namir

One of Israel’s outstanding advocates and legislators in the field of social justice in general and women’s rights in particular, Ora Namir was the only child of pioneering agricultural laborers in the moshav of Hoglah in the central Sharon region of Israel (founded in 1933).

Ruth Muskal

Born in Israel, Ruth Muskal studied education at both the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:342]Kibbutz[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] Seminar and in university. She joined the IDF in 1955 and filled various positions until her promotion to OC Women’s Corps (See “CHEN”: Women’s Corps in the Israel Defense Forces).

Lina Morgenstern

Lina Morgenstern was a woman of action rather than of words; she rolled up her sleeves when necessary and set to work, coordinating, organizing, fighting for her ideals. She believed that social activity in the framework of the women’s movement would bring about her ideal of universal human love, the “brotherhood of mankind” and her hope of full integration of Jews into Germany’s civil society.

Mo'ezet Ha-Po'alot (Council of Women Workers)

Founded in 1921 following the establishment of the Histadrut (General Federation of Workers in Israel), the Mo’ezet ha-Po’alot (Council of Women Workers) was the elected apparatus of Histadrut women, subordinated to the Va’ad ha-Po’el, the executive committee of the Histadrut.

Rosa Manus

Though Rosa Manus was one of the leading Dutch feminists before World War II, her memory has since been overshadowed by more famous contemporaries such as Aletta Jacobs. The fact that her life was also interwoven with pacifism, the struggle against fascism and the decline of Dutch Jewry, has largely been forgotten. More than other feminists, Rosa Manus suffered from the difficult position in which Jews were placed following the rise of fascism in Germany, when many women’s organizations were anxious to avoid being perceived as too Jewish. Carrie Chapman Catt, who regarded her as a pupil, assistant and adopted daughter, remembered her as one of the first to die for “the cause,” ignoring the fact that Rosa Manus had been arrested for her pacifist activities and deported as a Jew. And although her name appears on the memorial to those who died in Ravensbrück, there are several witnesses who testify to her having been taken, gravely ill, to Auschwitz.

Theresa Serber Malkiel

Theresa Malkiel was an activist for labor, women’s rights, and especially socialism. In one of her many published articles, she wrote, “The socialist regime [is] the only true exponent of complete equality and political economic independence.” Theresa Serber Malkiel, one of four daughters, was born on May 1, 1874, in Bar, Russia. The Serber family immigrated to New York in 1891, and although she had been educated, Theresa worked in a garment factory. Within three years, she helped to found the Infant Cloak Makers’ Union.

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.

Johanna Löwenherz

Even today it is difficult to reconstruct Johanna Löwenherz’s biography in full. She was born on March 12, 1857 in Rheinbrohl and according to her biographer, Wolfgang Dietz, was “the daughter of a well-to-do Jewish family and brought up in the Jewish faith” (Dietz 1989, 31). Her father, Hermann Löwenherz (1811–1897), was a businessman who owned a quarry. Her mother was Fanni, née Jacobsohn (1826–1902). Little is known about her education, though Cornelia Kunze claims that she studied piano and singing at the Conservatory in Stuttgart and was able to teach Esperanto. Although by upbringing she was closest to the middle-class women’s movement, she switched to the socialist women’s movement, on whose behalf she traveled widely in order to raise consciousness. According to Dietz, this change in her political allegiance led her to abandon Judaism. She was one of the most active representatives of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the Neuwied region and co-founder of the local Volksbildungsverein (Association for Popular Education). Although her political opinions made her a somewhat controversial figure in the SDP, she was nevertheless elected as a delegate to the regional party conferences in Duisburg (1895), Essen (1897) and Neuweid (1897).

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women's Rights." (Viewed on February 1, 2015) <http://jwa.org/topics/womens-rights>.

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