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Women's Rights

Rebecca Pearl Lovenstein

In few states did the struggle for women’s right to practice law on original jurisdiction take longer than in Virginia. The effort lasted from 1890 until June 1920 and required a change in the state bar admission statutes. Rebecca Lovenstein, who had campaigned for the statutory change, was the first woman admitted to practice in the state. She took the oath in Richmond on June 28, 1920. Rebecca Pearl Greenberg Lovenstein was the third Jewish woman to open a state bar for women.

Sadie Loewith

“Politics makes strange bedfellows,” the adage states. Those “bedfellows” were joined by a feisty, strong, opinionated woman in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in the 1920s. She was Sadie Loewith, teacher, businesswoman, active Republican Party worker, chairperson, organizer, and politician of high repute. Her interests were many and varied, and her ability to lead and to elicit respect was unwavering.

Alice Springer Fleisher Liveright

A woman from an affluent background who devoted her life to the underprivileged, Alice Springer Fleisher Liveright was part of a new generation of female professionals who helped to transform reform work from a pastime for middle-class women into a livelihood. This sense of professionalism, combined with left-leaning ideals of social justice and an outspoken manner, led her to work for equal rights for women and African Americans, and social welfare for children and poor adults.

Clara Lipman

Born on December 6, 1869, in Chicago to Abraham and Josephine (Brueckner) Lipman, Clara attended public schools in Chicago and New York, as well as being educated by private tutors. She began acting in ingenue roles and quickly joined A.M. Palmer’s venerable New York theater company. After a stint touring Europe with English and German classical companies, Lipman returned to New York and married fellow actor Louis Mann.

Lilith Magazine

Founded in 1976 by a small group of women led by Susan Weidman Schneider “to foster discussion of Jewish women’s issues and put them on the agenda of the Jewish community, with a view to giving women—who are more than fifty percent of the world’s Jews—greater choice in Jewish life,” Lilith: The Independent Jewish Women’s Magazine has remained true to its mission. From its inception, it has intentionally, though not exclusively, emphasized religious and social issues, with somewhat less focus on areas such as economics or politics. In 2004 the editors changed the tag line on the cover to read “independent, Jewish & frankly feminist.” The contours of the Jewish women’s movement and its own consciousness of a role that exceeds that of a magazine can be traced through nearly three decades of publication.

Raquel Liberman

Raquel Liberman was born in Berdichev in the Ukraine on July 10, 1900. As a child, she emigrated with her family to Warsaw. On December 21, 1919 she married Yaacov Ferber, a tailor, in Warsaw, according to the Jewish rite. In l920 their first son, Joshua David Ferber, was born. A year later, while she was pregnant with her second child, Yaacov Ferber emigrated to Argentina alone, joining his married sister and brother-in-law in the small village of Tapalqué, in the province of Buenos Aires. By the time Raquel Ferber and her sons Joshua and Moshe Velvele (Mauricio) joined him in Buenos Aires on October 22, 1922, Yaacov was already suffering from tuberculosis. He died a few months later. In order to support her family and with no knowledge of Spanish, Raquel, aged twenty-three, found herself obliged to leave her children in her provincial village, under the care of trusted neighbors, and find work in the capital. Unable to makes ends meet from her work as a seamstress, she was either forced into or voluntarily entered prostitution. Facts and fiction about her actual dealings are blurred. What is undisputed, however, is that after a few years of practicing that trade, she tried unsuccessfully to leave it. After a second attempt she succeeded in publicly denouncing the Zwi Migdal, formerly called Varsovia, a Jewish organization named after its founder, Zwi Migdal, which engaged in the white slave trade.

Fanny Lewald

Often compared by critics to George Sand and George Eliot, Fanny Lewald was an enormously productive, successful and respected writer in nineteenth-century Germany. Her early works of the 1840s deal in a committed manner with the political, social and religious questions of the time. Her later popular stories and novels were often first published in serial form in widely-circulated journals. She was also a gifted autobiographical writer. Her Memories of the Year 1848 gives a lively description of that dramatic year in European politics and also of her visit to Paris, where she met Heinrich Heine (1797–1856), a writer whom she greatly admired. Later she became more of a monarchist, convinced that a longer preparation for popular rule was essential; finally, she thought highly of Bismarck because of his “Realpolitik.”

Emma Levine-Talmi

Emma Levine was born in Warsaw in 1905, the oldest daughter of Asher and Yehudit Levine. She had four siblings: Rachel (1907–1973), who emigrated to Palestine in 1929 with Ha-Shomer ha-Za’ir and was among the founders of [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:342]Kibbutz[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] Ein ha-Horesh, where she worked as a nursery-school teacher and raised her family; Emanuel, who also emigrated to Palestine, raised a family and engaged in light industry in Tel Aviv; Yehuda, who was killed in the Holocaust; the youngest sister, Sarah (1914–1950), who studied at a seminary for nursery-school teachers in Warsaw, worked at Janusz Korczak’s orphanage and emigrated to Palestine with a Ha-Shomer ha-Za’ir group. She was a member of Kibbutz Ramat Yohanan before moving with her family to Givatayim, where she established a model kindergarten. She died in childbirth at the age of thirty-six, leaving a husband and two children. Talmi’s parents immigrated to Palestine in 1935 and settled in Tel Aviv, where her father worked as a bookkeeper, writing in his spare time and publishing three books in Hebrew.

Käthe Leichter

Käthe Leichter was undoubtedly the foremost socialist feminist in “Red Vienna” during the interwar years. A Social Democratic politician, labor organizer and author, with a doctorate in political economy, she directed women’s affairs for the Viennese Chamber of Workers (Arbeiterkammer). In May 1938, before she had a chance to escape from Austria, Käthe Leichter was arrested by the Gestapo for illegal socialist activities; she was never released from imprisonment.

Law in the United States

The situation of the Jewish community in the United States is shaped fundamentally by the condition of political equality. This legal status is shared with all other citizens and is assumed as an essential baseline. Where there are violations of that status—when an individual otherwise of full legal capacity is treated as a member of a subordinated racial or religious group, and when group membership defines rights and duties—we discuss the problem under the heading “discrimination.”


How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women's Rights." (Viewed on November 29, 2015) <>.


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