We Remember Alphabetical listing
Full Alphabetical listingRecent additions
1929 – 2012
Poet"Rich’s commitment to social justice that characterized her sustained engagement in the world emerged from the provocation and the aspiration that was her Jewishness. "
Frances Alenikoff ,
1920 – 2012
Dancer, Writer, Visual Artist"For decades and well into her 90s she turned age on its head, subverting its preconceptions, making it an adventure."
1934 – 2009
Activist, Biologist, Teacher"She went from a young Argentinian middle- to upper-class kid raised not to question women's roles in the home to leading crusader for women's issues (notably as they applied to the world of science)..."
Bette Berman Arnold,
1921 – 2011
Boston Restaurateur"She always treated everyone the same regardless of race, gender, class, or age. She knew innately that these things were right. It took society a full generation or more to catch up with her."
Donna E. Arzt,
1954 – 2008
Human Rights Lawyer, Teacher"In her a genetic disposition to the appeal of tikkun olam was evident, in the course of a life devoted to deploying the law in behalf of progressive causes of special concern to the Jewish people."
1919 – 2006
Innovative Librarian"She is remembered as a dynamic, inspiring leader, full of energy, writing and speaking internationally … making friends wherever she went. "
1958 – 2008
Public Historian"While always ready to challenge Jewish convention when necessary, she also honored those traditions that didn’t need changing. Indeed, numerous friends across Adina’s wide community bake challah because Adina taught them—a tradition she learned from her own mother, Toby. "
1927 – 2010
Advocate for Open Adoption"Annette made a huge difference in people’s awareness and understanding of the importance of truth and the civil right of access to one’s birth certificates and to information about one’s self. "
Patricia A. Barr,
1950 – 2003
Chair of Americans for Peace Now, Life-Long Justice Seeker"Pat firmly believed that each action she took -- in the public realm and the private realm -- affected the universe ... Pat was full of love. Not a gushy love, but a solid, matter-of-fact, and deeply felt love. "
1911 – 2009
Yiddish performer, American actor"She belonged to a generation of Yiddish cultural figures who have no concept of the notion of retirement. Mina worked until the end - for herself, for her audiences, for her art, for the world of Yiddish."
Adrienne Fried Block,
1921 – 2009
Musicologist, Feminist Scholar, Teacher"Through word and example, Adrienne taught countless women how to survive and thrive in male-dominated university settings. She firmly believed in the possibility of changing the world—or at least a piece of it. "
1913 – 2009
Civic leader"It wasn't so much what the lady did – although she did much in her 96 years. It is what she meant to Wilmington [NC]."
1918 – 2008
Singer and Yoga Teacher"Given the Indian name of Neeladevi by her guru in the late l960s, she became Swami Neeladevananda at her investiture in Orleans, France in 2005. Neeladevi or Neeladevananda, Ruby Blue always remained a Jew and lit sabbath candles every Friday night."
1910 – 1986
Camping Innovator, Committed Zionist"Before anyone ever dreamed of feminism or women's liberation, Sara embodied for her campers the absolute model of female strength, purpose and achievement ... [she] had the uncanny ability to really know people and to uncover that uniqueness within each one that made her or him feel special. The only demand Sara Blum ever made in return was that you pushed yourself to be the best you could be."
Raysa Rose Bonow,
1931 – 2011
Television Producer"There are the doers in this world and there are the passive people who live vicariously through the doers. Thinking and learning is doing, because it makes you active and aware of your life "
Fay Rosenthal Brachman,
1921 – 2007
Archivist, Community Leader, Music Philanthropist"When Fay had an idea that something needed doing, she didn't complain. She jumped in and did it. She energized people. She didn't plan to do things big, she just planned to do things better, and they grew."
1922 – 2008
Pharmacist, Philanthropist, Community Activist"Whether it was women's rights, political candidates, health care reform, cutting edge or seemingly impossible causes, she championed them and pretty soon, so did everyone else."
Ruth F. Brin,
1921 – 2009
Writer"Ruth Brin was an essential part of the fabric of Minnesota's Jewish community, teaching classes on immigrant literature, American Jewish writers and Judaism at the University of Minnesota and Macalester, shaping the Jewish arts scene with contributions of time, energy and critical funding, writing book reviews . . . up until her death, and raising distinguished and engaged children. . ."
Esther M. Broner,
1930 – 2011
Jewish Feminist Activist, Scholar, Author"I know how many thousands of lives Esther has touched and how many Jewish women walk taller for having followed in her groundbreaking footsteps."
Shirley Kramer Broner,
1922 – 2006
Navy WAVE, University Administrator"A clipping in her memoirs sums up her philosophy: 'Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body … but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a ride!"'"
1945 – 2006
Philanthropist"Whatever the particular project – this woman pushed on. Whether it was the Guide Dogs for the Blind, the children of Jerusalem who would benefit from this park or that zoo, and most recently, the passion for exposing Israeli excellence in the decorative arts to international audiences. Her zeal for young people – Birthright groups, Reboot young adults, children in enrichment programs in Israeli schools whether in Beit Shemesh or Sakhnin, was overwhelming."
1911 – 2010
Comedian"Jean Carroll was a stand up comedian in the truest, truest essence ... [She] just stood there in front of a microphone and talked. She was what today we would call a monologist... If she was sitting a table with Don Rickles and Jack Benny, she could hold her own."
Sheila Cheimets ,
1936 – 2011
Pioneering Local Politician"She never put much stock in her pioneering achievements ... until she became a grandmother... It was when she had her granddaughters around her that she began to think about what their lives were going to be like."
Carla Furstenberg Cohen,
1936 – 2010
Bookstore Owner, Activist"A world without a Carla in it just doesn’t seem possible (and certainly less interesting). But I know she will always be with us. Once you know her, you can’t forget her."
Helen Herz Cohen,
1912 – 2006
Creator of Camp for Inner City Children, Lifelong Mentor to Girls"When I pick up this pen to use it, I will remember so much of what you taught me, not the least of which is to dare to try. To go for it. And I will remember the lessons you taught me of believing in myself, of responsibility and honor and consideration for others and how we must give back, and, of the endless possibilities of creativity. And, oh yes, to have fun…."
Lucy Kramer Cohen,
1907 – 2007
Advocate for Native Americans, Public Health Worker"She never put herself in the limelight to lead and yet she was a leader."
1920 – 2006
Journalist"She gave her editors indigestion, but she won them a Pulitzer, too, guiding the Globe's coverage of the pain and the chaos that greeted court-ordered busing to achieve desegregation of Boston's public schools."
Selma Jeanne Cohen,
1920 – 2005
Dance History Pioneer"Despite the difficulty of translating the evanescent nature of dance into words, Selma Jeanne Cohen believed that dance, as much as painting, music and literature, deserved a history of its own. She spent a lifetime creating the structures necessary to making the recording of that history possible…."
Dorrit Zucker Cohn,
1924 – 2012
Professor of German and Comparative Literature"I most value the example Dorrit set with her integrity, modesty, and precision in teaching, advising, and scholarship. She was respectful and generous with her time, and she never overstepped."
1913 – 2009
Trailblazing Scientist"Back in Cohn's day even her own PhD advisor could not help her find a suitable job, for in the era of pre-"equal opportunity" employment, Cohn had two strikes going against her – being a woman and Jewish – that no amount of talent could seem to overcome."
1917 – 2006
Broadway and Hollywood Lyricist"Her life not only chronicles a history of the Broadway musicals I grew up with, but also an era that allowed many of us to believe in the beauty and power of New York, as well as that melancholy feeling many of us hold as we look back on a period when life was indeed simpler… Though not a particularly observant Jew, Comden seemed informed by a Jewish frame of mind – a wise-cracking, down-to-earth, cultural "at homeness" with which I very much identified."
1946 – 2011
Performer, Interpreter of Yiddish Song"Beyond her extraordinary artistic accomplishments, Adrienne was a mentor, resource, and role model to so many who have lived, or at least sojourned, in Yiddishland."
1944 – 2010
Feminist Human Rights Lawyer, Scholar, Teacher"Rhonda Copelon often worked behind the scenes, but her finger prints, or perhaps I should say brain waves, are all over many of the most important breakthroughs in progressive feminist advances both in the United States and globally."
1940 – 2010
Dance Educator"Her capacity to empower people while leading with a firm hand and a kind heart was so inspiring. Many of us have been moved to action, to effect change, because of her example."
Polly Spiegel Cowan,
1913 – 1976
Civil Rights Activist"The legacy that my mother left went beyond the immediate family. She was part of a great movement that profoundly changed American society. On a personal level, the legacy of her commitment inspired the succeeding generations of our own family. We, her children and grandchildren, remain committed to the beliefs of prophetic Judaism: to help the poor and the needy and to seek justice."
Joan Berman Cutler,
1930 – 2010
Philanthropist"As so many people have suggested, my mother was a presence. Not only that she had a presence, but that she was one. "
Kathryn Wasserman Davis,
1907 – 2013
Scholar and Philanthropist"In 1998, at the age of 91, she took up kayaking, making regular excursions on the Hudson River and along the coast and on the lakes of Maine. As a result of these experiences, she became a significant supporter of environmental organizations. "
1952 – 2008
Educator, Teen Outreach Worker"Her major talent was opening hearts. Her compassion, understanding and generosity made her the most popular person at school, a magnet for teenagers who called her their second mother and were ready to share things they would never have told their parents."
1945 – 2010
Documentary filmmaker"Gail Dolgin balanced her activism in the cause of social justice with an equally fervent commitment to the life of the spirit and was active in a close and cohesive spiritual community."
Gertrude Wishnick Dubrovsky,
1926 – 2012
Writer, Historian, and Independent Scholar"To the credit of the nuns, my Jewish search was encouraged, my questions were never cut short, and a patient effort was made consistently to answer me."
1911 – 2006
Union Activist, Founder of the Women’s Research and Education Institute"Ninety-five years was not long enough for us to enjoy [her] passion, wit, commitment to justice, and love of life."
1941 – 2012
Writer and Film Director"For all her acerbic humor, she was always warm to me. For all her Jewish disconnection, she felt utterly Jewish to me."
1908 – 2011
LGBT Activist"An agitator, rabble-rouser, and working-class Jewish lesbian, Gerry Faier found company and camaraderie among fellow labor organizers, the burgeoning gay and lesbian communities of Woodstock and Greenwich Village, and activists across many generations."
1912 – 2008
Social Worker"Frances Feldman's life and work are a testimony to the highest standards of social work scholarship. They reflect compassion, systematic understanding, and relentless curiosity. A pioneering spirit, personally and intellectually, she changed the world she lived in and left indelible memories with all who knew her."
1945 – 2007
Folk Musician, Lesbian Activist"Never content to play only gay spaces, she would perform 'any place that would have her.' She loved being a bridge, helping others to gain confidence and find the resources they needed."
1921 – 2009
Hebrew School Educator"Vivian had presence. And she had style, coming to work every weekday afternoon and Shabbat morning dressed to the nines and fully coiffed. She was from the generation of religious school teachers who not only championed the teaching of the Hebrew language to American Jewish students (and successfully taught it to them), but also viewed themselves as true professionals."
1919 – 2013
Musician and Volunteer Leader"Her teacher and piano were important in her life, but her Jewish identity and heritage were even more so. She was involved in many Jewish causes and organizations and was a proud supporter of Israel, especially in her life-long devotion to Hadassah. "
1917 – 2007
Advocate for Subsidized Housing"As one of the first professionals to initiate a joint venture between a nonprofit and the private sector, Clara was way ahead of her time."
Sally Cherniavsky Fox,
1929 – 2006
Preserver of the Visual History of Women"Sally Fox's passion was to gather and share the history of women through visual images. Sometimes this meant finding images of women doing conventional work, but often it meant seeking images of women doing the unexpected…. Her goal was to challenge conventional notions of how women lived their lives in the past."
1912 – 2005
Advocate for the Elderly"Mother’s public debut was not exactly spontaneous — in 1982 my brother Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank faced a tough re-election campaign. We were all engaged, but probably the most effective family effort was a campaign commercial featuring Mother, in her rocking chair, explaining that she trusted Barney to protect Social Security."
1942 – 2008
Acclaimed Singer of Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) Music"Judy was one of the first (and still, regrettably, one of the few) singers of Sephardic songs who, from the beginning, learned songs directly from the people whose tradition it was."
Eleanor Hatkin Freedman,
1924 – 1974
"My mother, I came to realize, wanted to obliterate the barrier between love and sexuality. I was not shocked or shamed to encounter that carnal side of her. The mother I knew during my lifetime was a beautiful and vain woman, one who resisted having a mastectomy for breast cancer because she could not bear to be, as she put it, 'mutilated' and 'disfigured.' Her allure was part of her life-force, something inextricably tied to her passions for intellectual growth and artistic expression. "
1921 – 2006
Writer, Activist, Pioneer in the Feminist Movement"If there was any one woman who could be called the mother of feminism, it was Betty Friedan. Though "second-wave" feminism was a collective endeavor that had many founders, Friedan was the spark plug whose furious indictment of "the problem that had no name" – the false consciousness of "happy housewifery" – set off a revolution more potent than many of the other social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s. The impact of this social movement is still being felt around the world."
1914 – 2009
NYC Councilwoman and Activist"… She was an inspiration to many of us as an activist and someone who challenged the powers that be…And I think many of us saw her as a role model: There weren't a lot of women in office – she was there and she had a great fighting spirit."
1983 – 2013
Social Justice Activist"She didn’t want to be known as the girl with cancer. She wanted to be known as a social justice activist, as someone working to repair the world."
1943 – 2006
Jewish Women's Studies Pioneer"As a scholar, Dr. Frymer-Kensky challenged her students to study deeply and obtain mastery of their subjects; any less was insufficient. In her writing, she modeled both rigor and relevance…. She wrote in order to bring us the ancient and to create a more just present."
Beatrice L. Garber,
1912 – 1999
Hadassah Leader"While she wasn’t your typical 'Bubbe,' cooking brisket or baking kugel, she was a gifted public speaker and totally dedicated to Hadassah, her synagogue, the Land of Israel, the Jewish people, and her family."
1910 – 2006
Labor Activist ,Communist"In her later years, Sophie was a tireless activist with the National Council of Senior Citizens, fighting for universal health care and defense of Social Security. A woman of charm and passion, she developed ties with a range of local activists, including nuns and other local Catholics."
1923 – 2008
Actress, Comedian"... Mostly I admire her for being a genuinely funny, talented woman, who never gave up on her greatest ambitions. In an industry where youth and beauty are often valued far above maturity and wit, Estelle turned the tables."
Doris B. Gold,
1919 – 2011
Pioneering Jewish Feminist"She was never conflicted about whether or not to stand up on some issue or for someone who needed her support. She never slogged through some inner debate, yes or no, what shall I do? It was natural for her to just go ahead forcefully and say and do what was right in her eyes."
1952 – 2007
Jewish Communal Activist, Revson Foundation Director"Lisa Goldberg simply set the standard for creative and efficacious use of philanthropic dollars…. She never thought small – absolutely never."
Isabelle Charlotte Weinstein Goldenson,
1921 – 2005
Disability Rights Activist, Co-founder of United Cerebral Palsy"My mother's inspiration and perseverance resulted in the development of a light-weight wheelchair, multi-directional conveyances which can climb stairs, remote control 'space garments' to move limbs, sensory devices to help the blind, amongst many other breakthroughs and my mother united the worlds of science, technology and medicine in the first-ever collaboration!"
1915 – 2007
Psychologist, Civil Rights Activist"On various occasions Carolyn met with young people, urged them to take on world challenges, ran essay contests for them and celebrated the winners enthusiastically, spoke in different settings about the importance of supporting the next generation and encouraging them to be involved in healing the world."
1938 – 2008
Poet"Miriam was a quirky amalgam of old world and new. She resisted cell phones and was certainly no fashion queen, but no new composer was too ‘out there’ for Miriam; no movie too unconventional. Of course, she loved the classics too, but she liked her art to be challenging, to break new ground. In her own life and art, Miriam never stopped breaking new ground. "
1946 – 2012
Scholar and Teacher"She believed deeply in the enduring importance of feminism, a political force which transformed the world but one Lynn believed had much more to accomplish. She was a deep believer in social justice and also in the centrality and needs of the State of Israel.""
Edna Barrabee Grace,
1914 – 2010
Marriage and Sex Therapist"Prominent Boston-area therapist Edna Barrabee Grace enjoyed a long and successful career counseling couples. She helped many save their marriages by teaching them simply to be nice to each other. "
1904 – 1988
Stage Performer, Writer"By the time she left England in 1933 to try her fortune in America, [Sheilah] had earned a modest reputation as a freelance journalist. She had also written two unsuccessful novels, a credential that allowed her to bluff her way into jobs as a New York staff reporter, getting scoops and writing eye-catching features such as 'Who Cheats Most in Marriage?' a breezy inventory of the men of Western nations."
Betty Lee Hahn,
1932 – 2006
Jewish Communal Leader"Buz Hahn lived life the way she wanted, standing up for what was right, kneeling down to lend a hand and always, always getting the most out of every experience. When Buz died earlier this year at age 74, there were tears, of course. But there were no regrets for opportunities squandered. Nobody could say she lived anything less than a full and fantastic life."
Kitty Carlisle Hart,
1911 – 2007
Popular Performer, Spokeswoman for the Arts"Once she became a famous performer, Hart was always aware of which musical theater greats shared her lineage. "Everybody in the theater was Jewish," she declared matter-of-factly. "Except Cole Porter." She only gradually became aware of antisemitism around her. "I went to a dinner party – and in those days, everybody dressed up for dinner parties," she recalled. "And they were talking about the Jews in a way that was just awful. It was unbearable. And I got up in the middle of dinner, and I said, 'I am Jewish, and I won't sit here and listen to this kind of talk for another five minutes.' And I left. The bravest thing I ever did.""
1930 – 2009
Children's Writer"She encouraged people of all ages, especially young people, to keep a journal and record their stories. She believed that all stories were unique to the individuals writing them and each life story important in its own way."
Dorothy Ray Healey,
1914 – 2006
Leader of the Communist Party of America"…Her ability to see the potential in every person and to help translate that potential towards reality – through teaching and shared organizing; through coaxing and prodding towards action; but mostly, through the most respectful and honest listening one could ever encounter – had enormous political ramifications."
Natalie Goldstein Heineman,
1913 – 2010
Social Worker, Child Welfare Advocate"In every organization in which she was involved, she was recognized not only for her effective leadership but for her independence, intellect, hard work and kind heart."
1913 – 2008
Librarian"She was a natural-born writer, she wrote long hand-written letters ... I can't begin to summarize the contents of the hundreds of letters that passed between Eva and me over more than 45 years of friendship ... Eva's letters were graceful, evocative retelling of events, powerful confessions of emotion and desires, and commentaries on my own struggles with writing."
Bert Milstone Cohen Hirshberg,
1919 – 2008
Arts Enthusiast, Community Volunteer"She cared passionately about the arts, Boston, literature, politics, and her family and friends… She was one of those Jewish women who helped pry the door open continually so that others less assertive than she could follow."
1946 – 2011
Historian, Teacher, Feminist"We should hear her when we need courage to oppose sexism, whether political, historical, or unconscious; when we strive to balance family commitments with demands of career; and when we seek to follow in her footsteps to chart new paths in making and writing Jewish history."
Phyllis "Flip" S. Imber,
1922 – 2011
Civic Activist, Storeowner, Folk Art Collector"A civic activist, storeowner, and avid collector of folk art, she was my family’s compass—there for every decision, every change, every milestone. "
1914 – 2010
Hadassah President, Zionist Leader"She traveled the world in defense of Jewish rights, meeting with refuseniks and facing commissars in the Soviet Union, and advocating freedom of worship and emigration in front of the leaders of Syria and Egypt. She also defended Israel and the Jewish people in the halls and overseas conferences of the United Nations. "
Esther Kasle Jones,
1915 – 1994
Jewish Communal Activist, Life-Long Mentor"She was a strong leader—head of the women's division of the UJA in Detroit, and later on the national women’s division board (she never made a fuss about that—it was her turn to do it so she did it; this was her attitude). In all these and other philanthropic enterprises she preferred to be in the background; she let others take credit for successes and worked quietly for what she thought was important. But she always went out of her way to work with the next generation, mentoring them and training them to become the leaders of tomorrow."
1935 – 2009
Mother of Women's Judo"Why judo? She fell in love with judo, not for the self-defense it afforded, but because it calmed her down. She already knew how to defend herself. She decided to channel her immense reserve of energy into this sport that instilled self-control."
1927 – 2010
Sociologist, First Woman to Become a Tenured Professor at Princeton""Like 'The Man Who Came to Dinner,' I was the woman who came to Princeton.""
Bernice W. Kliman,
1933 – 2011
Shakespearean Scholar"She found that her feminism conflicted with the synagogue practice of denying women a place on the bimah. Only later did she [find] a sympathetic rabbi and a group of congregants who also believed in women’s equality."
Myra Hiatt Kraft,
1942 – 2011
Philanthropist"I will remember Myra as a giving, passionate, courageous fighter for social justice for all and a lover of Israel and the Jewish people."
1940 – 2009
Champion of free speech"The First Amendment lost a champion with the April 11 death of the director of ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, who fought censorship for 40 years with courage, intelligence, and wit. A look back at the career of a library legend."
Ann J. Lane,
1931 – 2013
Historian"Ann Lane was a bold advocate not simply for women but, even more important, for feminist scholarship."
1922 – 2009
Dancer, Choreographer"All these years later, I realize Lang’s success was not only her performance but how she embodied connections, showing that ties between people – whether tenuous and delicate or firm and furious – are the world’s wellspring of life."
1929 – 2010
Social Worker, Holocaust Educator"As a resource speaker for Facing History, she spoke to many audiences of all ages and championed the power of education to address injustices wherever they occur."
1920 – 2013
Women’s History Pioneer"Lerner's life experience equipped her to resist conformity—in particular, questioning the societal norms insisting that women had no history."
Marcia Soloski Levin,
1921 – 2010
Businesswoman"Mother was a working girl when most women found their identity in motherhood and the home, but she was much more than that. She was a free spirit, supreme motivator for women who wanted to start their own businesses, and a generous friend to those causes she believed in and the people she cared about."
Betty Jean Lifton,
1926 – 2010
Author and Proponent of Open Adoption"BJ made an amazing difference in the lives of adopted people, birthparents, and adoptive parents and professionals. She never wavered in her beliefs, and in her stand for human rights in adoption."
1919 – 2006
Activist, Founder of Ploughshares Fund"Even though she wanted to turn swords into ploughshares, she wielded her own kind of sharp weapon: an inveterate (and sometimes intimidating) intelligence. She had an eye for detail as well as a sweeping perspective that always saw the bigger, more critical picture…."
1960 – 2009
Journalist"Acclaimed journalist Rebecca Lipkin's colleagues and friends have penned glowing tributes about her storied career, consummate professionalism, and supreme news savvy. But it's obvious that she's equally revered for her warmth, inherent goodness, and sense of fun and adventure."
Claude-Anne Kirschen Lopez,
1920 – 2012
Benjamin Franklin Editor and Biographer"I have decided it doesn’t do anybody concerned any harm for a woman to take on a worthwhile project. "
1920 – 2010
Neuroscientist"She was a pioneer in discovering the purpose of certain areas of the brain, and the implications regarding human behavior. Without Dr. Helen Mahut, modern medicine would have a very different view and understanding of memory, the human brain, and resultant human behavior. "
1920 – 2013
PFLAG Co-Founder"She worked hard and organized. She would call parents cold when she learned they had a problem. “We don’t want to intrude,” she’d say, “but we can help.” "
Ruth Barcan Marcus,
1921 – 2012
Professor of Logic and Metaphysics"Not afraid to make enemies and blessed with many loyal friends, [she] was unrelenting and consistent in upholding the highest standards for rigor and clarity in philosophy and in academia more generally."
1909 – 2009
Sewing teacher, Writer, Poet"She continued to dream of, and work for, a world at peace. Before the 2004 election, horrified at America's attack on Iraq, she wrote a long, impassioned letter about the importance of the election, photocopied it, and mailed it to friends who were doubtful their vote would matter."
1918 – 2012
Children’s Theater Artist"From 1963-2009, she developed a contemporary theater for children. The shows intimately reflected a child’s world."
1911 – 2006
Modern Dancer, Choreographer"Like many New York dancers of her era, Maslow became involved in leftist politics. She taught dance classes for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, and participated, alongside lifelong friend Anna Sokolow, in Workers Dance League concerts."
Norma Fox Mazer,
1931 – 2009
Writer and Teacher"Her writing apprenticeship began when she was 27 years old and the mother of three small children. She and [her husband] Harry made a pact to squeeze at least an hour out of every day to write. Frequently, this was at four o’clock in the morning"
Emily Shain Mehlman,
1941 – 2006
Community Activist"For those around her Emily served as a compass, both figuratively and literally. She knew how to help her community steer a clear course, guiding us with her own impeccable honesty and tenacious personality. You could also ask her for more practical directions and arrive with more clarity than mapquest can provide…."
Shulamith Soloveitchik Meiselman,
1912 – 2009
Jewish Educator"She was born into a family of great rabbis and scholars; if she had been born a boy, her path would have been clear. Having been born a girl, she had to find her way. She did so with great success in her public and private lives, and did so with wisdom and grace."
1911 – 2007
Inventor, Jewish Education Entrepreneur"It was her conviction that others shared her desire to be a knowledgeable Jew, and her dream was to create the way to provide that knowledge."
Lenore Pancoe Meyerhoff,
1927 – 1988
Philanthropist, Republican Activist"Alternately reckless, mischievous or courageous, Mom's defiance had a triple edge. At 10, she secretly smoked a corncob pipe stuffed with stolen tobacco. She was arrested at age 14 for driving her Aunt Minnie's car at 90 miles an hour without a license. (Her adored maternal aunt, something of a bon vivant herself, was in the car at the time.) She challenged a revered male leader at a federation board meeting for using green Israel bonds to pay his campaign pledge – a practice that no one else had the guts to expose."
Joyce D. Miller,
1928 – 2012
Advocate for Women in the Workplace"In addition to being a great friend to many and a loving mother, daughter, and sister, she was a Tzaddik."
Ruth Schachter Morgenthau,
1929 – 2006
Africanist Scholar and Activist"Ruth deeply believed that economic empowerment was the basis for increasing human rights and gender equity for women. If women have economic power, they gain confidence and courage, and become greater participants with increased voice in their communities. Everyone benefits when women benefit."
1919 – 2008
Community Leader, Philanthropist"Her passion for learning and for education at all levels propelled her to make them a central part of her life, both as a student, a mother, and a supporter of women's education over her lifetime."
1911 – 2010
Zionist Leader, Activist, Rebbetzin"She understood the need for promoting religious pluralism, human rights, and democracy in Israel as fundamental Reform Jewish values. To Ruth, Jewish nationalism expressed in Zionism is a seamless and natural aspect of Reform Jewish identity. "
1913 – 2007
Feminist Author"A daughter of immigrants and a working mother starved for time to write, Tillie Olsen drew from her personal experiences to create a small but influential body of work."
1915 – 2006
Inventor of the Poverty Line"Mollie was very smart, independent, and a hardworking government employee. She was called 'Miss Poverty' because she developed the poverty index widely used by the Federal government as a basis for benefit programs involving low income individuals and families."
1922 – 2007
Writer, Activist"But even more, even more than I admired the stories, which was a lot, I admired Grace Paley's activism and her moral courage."
1921 – 2010
Businesswoman, Women's Rights Advocate"She was known equally for her generosity and her strong will, her enthusiasm and her temper, her warmth and her keen business sense. She might greet you or grill you, but chances were if you needed help with something on Martha’s Vineyard, she had the answer."
Ruth Emmerman Peizer,
1923 – 2013
Yiddish authority, social justice advocate"
I think Yiddish should be a living language, and we should certainly try to perpetuate something that has been so beautiful and has been around for a thousand years."
Nell Ziff Pekarsky,
1910 – 1998
Hadassah leader"Nell made a strong impression. Her build was slight, but she was no pushover: her energetic gait and purposeful expression projected a commanding, yet accessible, presence. She laughed easily and sometimes uproariously – especially if the joke was on her. Nell loved to hear and to tell what she called 'juicy' stories. She was not interested in idle gossip. But she was ever curious about people, relationships and the world around her."
Gloria Stern Penner,
1931 – 2012
Public Broadcaster"In the 1970s, I was a vigorous believer that women needed better representation in business and society, and I worked hard to make that happen. I doubt my demeanor resembled the TV-film stereotype of the obedient, dutiful babe in the background."
Nancy Popkin Popkin,
1930 – 2013
Writer"The legacy of Nancy Popkin Popkin, who danced on my coffee table at her 80th birthday party, is her unrelenting determination to celebrate life, family, and friends, with an abundantly generous spirit and a refusal to let even significant losses stand in her way. "
1955 – 2008
Prominent Lawyer, Women's Rights Activist"... It was your run-of-the-mill start of a new era; an era of Ruth as a lawyer, a teacher, a mentor, an activist. But it also marked a time during which Ruth's desire to have a family became uppermost. To really know Ruth is to know that her mantra is: Family First! That applies to her immediate family and her many extended families. "
1944 – 2006
Feminist Art Activist"... She was a rarity, a seemingly unstoppable spirit. Even as she was failing, she was working, unwilling to let go of the mission that had given meaning to her life, a mission shared by many but especially by me; to help bring about a change for the better in this often dismal world."
1924 – 2008
Black Jazz Enthusiast, Women's Health Advocate, Writer"The obituary for Rosetta Reitz in the New York Times portrayed her as a champion of black jazz artists, while the one in the Villager featured the feminist Rosetta who wrote the ground-breaking book on menopause. For me, Rosetta Reitz under her maiden name of Toshka Goldman will always be memorable as the founder of the Four Seasons Bookstore in Greenwich Village."
Gertrud C. Reyersbach,
1907 – 1999
Pediatrician"I liked all the toys in your office but actually my favorite thing was you."
Lois Levin Roisman,
1938 – 2008
Activist, Philanthropist and Writer"Lois' life was centered on the inherent goodness of humans and inherent humor of life. Everything she did was based on the principle that if you could make people laugh about the human condition, then you could make them do something to improve it."
Mattie Levi Rotenberg,
1897 – 1989
Physicist, Educator"One Erev Pesach my grandmother demonstrated physics at the University of Toronto for three hours, went to the radio studio to tape a live broadcast, taped two more broadcasts for the upcoming days of Yom Tov, and came home to make seder."
Sylvia Rosner Rothchild,
1923 – 2009
Writer"A prolific writer, Sylvia Rothchild has used both fiction and nonfiction to explore the complex interactions of American and Jewish cultures and identities among the descendants of Jews who arrived in the United States during the great wave of eastern European immigration in the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century. "
Jean W. Rothenberg,
1909 – 2007
Advocate for the Hearing Impaired"…her hearing loss prevented her from hearing all of what she wanted to, but she turned that sorrow into her greatest gift—that of restoring human communication for others with hearing loss."
1916 – 2001
Artist"She gave generously of her time to the community while never losing sight of commitment to her own development and dedication as a full-time artist."
1930 – 2010
Scholar, Founder of Kurdish Museum and Library"Vera Saeedpour became an expert on the Kurds because she was a Jew, and she died leaving the world a bit more sensitive to their plight than it was before she was here."
1908 – 2010
Vermont Hebrew School Teacher, Real Estate Broker, Celebrated Baker"June took the opportunity to study Torah with the rabbi and five other women and, at age 89, became the oldest woman in Rutland to celebrate her bat mitzvah."
Mollie Weinstein Schaffer,
1916 – 2012
WW II Veteran"We are finally in Paris and you can see that the Americans took over the situation. Can you imagine—ME—with the “handle” that I’ve got using Hitler’s stationery? "
1911 – 2009
Federal Worker and Activist"She faced discrimination overtly as a Jew and less overtly as a working woman... Those experiences sensitize people to what fair treatment is. We knew that to be fair was important, to work for improving the world an essential task. "
Beatrice Holtzman Schneiderman,
1904 – 1996
Civil Rights Activist and Committed Volunteer"Her courage was more than physical: she had the courage of her convictions. Passionate about social justice, she did not stand on the sidelines. If a cause mattered to her, she dove in wholeheartedly, attending rallies, volunteering for Board service, arranging meetings, and organizing fundraisers."
WW II Resistance Fighter, Cooking Teacher, and Cookbook Author"Many of the stories of her young life in France give a glimpse into the shaping forces of her strong character, enormous empathy and compassion for others. This shaped her life as a giver. "
1935 – 2008
Pioneer in the Women's Health Movement"Thinking about Barbara, I realize that she was a one-woman social networking site. She remembered everyone she had ever met and tried to connect them with everybody else she had ever met. She recalled where you were from, whom you dated, your health problems, and your writings or accomplishments and then she introduced to people who you should know."
1913 – 2007
Government Worker, Special Education Instructor"…'She, in some ways, was way ahead of her time,' said her daughter Margaret Shapiro, of Philadelphia. 'Although she had a nice life, once it became nice, she really wasn't satisfied until she had a career of her own. And she wasn't from a family or a community that encouraged women to have careers of their own. But she stuck to wanting to have her own skills and her own career.'"
1918 – 2007
Pioneering Consumer Activist"…A colorful character in the dull world of utility regulation, Siegel's talent and passion pushed her to the forefront of any battle she engaged in Siegel's quick thinking and dry humor made her a favorite with policymakers, the media and even her opponents. She charmed, disarmed and then went for the jugular. Even her adversaries, whom she routinely called all sorts of unprintable names, spoke fondly of her."
Sarah Gettleman Silberman,
1909 – 2008
Sculptor"I didn’t pay much attention to this tiny little old lady. Then came a student show, and she brought in her Bust of Henry Lofton, a twice life-size study of an 11-year-old African American boy. That’s all I had to see to know that I was sharing a studio with an exceptional talent. "
1948 – 2009
Teacher, Oral Historian, Activist"She liked to tell me that she started out in life as conservative but that she did a full political turn when she traveled to South Africa at l9 and observed first hand the awful effect of apartheid. When she returned to San Francisco, she became active in the Jewish community and with liberal and social justice causes and campaigns."
1938 – 2008
Peace and Social Justice Activist"Whether Hilda was sharing her moral outrage, her prodigious memory of historical events, handing out leaflets, or vigiling with Women in Black, she was for me a courageous and passionate teacher and activist."
Miriam Rayman Solomon,
1919 – 2011
Communal Leader"Her generosity was boundless; she provided resources or advice, but the recipient had to be willing to listen and follow through. Nothing disappointed her more than someone settling for less than they could do. "
1915 – 2008
Ethnomusicologist, Filmmaker"Dr. Spector always seemed happy and was full of laughter. Despite her tragic past, she knew how to enjoy life and made sure that you enjoyed it along with her. At the same time, she was principled. Deeply religious, her tenets in life were molded by her profound belief in the teachings of the Bible. She was also unbending: a determined lady who would brook no action that violated her principles."
1911 – 2007
Medical Pioneer in Human Metabolism and Nutrition"A pioneering woman in the medical world, Herta published more than 250 scientific papers, including numerous articles on the effects on humans of strontium-90, a major radioactive component of fallout from the atomic bomb tests of the '40s and '50s. She was instrumental in describing mechanisms to rid the body of this deadly isotope, information that was to prove invaluable years later when she helped save lives following the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island.… Mostly, Herta taught us that if you have focus, work hard and dream big you can make major achievements that make the world a better place."
Adele Landau Starr,
1916 – 2007
Activist"She had a strong sense of what was ethical and right; she didn’t just talk about it, she took action."
1930 – 2012
Feminist Artist"She taught in such a simple, loving way and made everyone feel safe. “You're allowed to mess up here,” she would say. “It's OK to fall.”"
1912 – 2007
Antiquarian Book Dealer"…an innovative and revered entrepreneur in the leather-armchair world of gentlemen antiquarian book dealers; unmarried in a world where women were wives, Stern lived in a universe in which it was not possible to live the way she wanted to. She simply ignored that impossibility, created her own universe and, in a small but exquisite way, changed the world."
1914 – 2007
Jewish Communal Leader"She knew who to talk to and how to motivate people… She bridged the gap between being a 'rich lay leader' and a member of the professional staff with complete ease. It was not only her style, but the fact that everybody recognized her complete commitment to the Jewish community as well as to the community at large."
1956 – 2011
Mental Health Worker"Caryn tenaciously challenged complacency, resignation, and lack of creativity wherever she found it. With her characteristic absence of judgment, she continually modeled for everyone the holding of hope for all those struggling with physical and mental disabilities."
1923 – 2012
Activist, Scholar, Teacher"This beautiful, wise and not-so-organized woman [was] not only a superb organizer but also an inspiring teacher and a colleague who exemplified what it means to meet one’s obligations to the human family."
Savina J. Teubal,
1926 – 2005
Biblical Scholar and Ritual Innovator"Savina reclaimed the stories of Sarah and Hagar through her writing, and through her life. Like Sarah, Savina went forth into new lands, without maps or mentors to guide her. Like Sarah and Hagar, Savina lived in a patriarchal world, challenging that world with her choices and her clarity about the work she was called to complete…."
1938 – 2008
Musician"Having never heard of Sephardic music before her first exposure to it in the late 1970s in a Renaissance music group to which she belonged, she plunged headlong into an enduring passion to bring this music and the richness of its heritage to a greater audience."
1947 – 2006
Communal leader"Pam's approach to work mirrored her approach to life. She was direct and comforting. If something did not work out, try another door—another avenue. Be calm, yet be persistent. Look people in the eye and let them know they are valued."
1931 – 2008
Artist and Peace Activist"Waldman's activism manifested itself in her Jewish identity... She believed that the experience Jews had had in the world gave a very powerful link to work for tikkun olam, for social justice and peace, and fighting oppression. Though she considered herself a secular humanist and never belonged to a synagogue, she had a very strong network in the grassroots of the Jewish community and really believed in the power and beauty of Jewish culture and experience."
1937 – 2007
GLBT Activist Filmmaker"…She chose action over passivity. She chose to reform rather than to conform. Her diverse background and interests led her down many paths. As a renowned feminist, filmmaker, psychologist, educator, author, and activist who fully invested herself in every fiber of her work-literally, physically, metaphorically-Joyce touched the lives of many."
1950 – 2006
Playwright"Wasserstein observed that she was often told by producers and others that her plays were 'too New York,' which she understood as being a euphemism for 'too Jewish.' As Wasserstein recounted, when people asked her whether The Sisters Rosensweig with its three Jewish sisters, 'a hit in New York [could] play around the country,' she replied 'Well, you know this is something I've heard … People have sisters. Now maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they don't have them in Ohio. I could be wrong, but I've heard … they have sisters there.'"
1930 – 2009
Political Power Broker"There was no one I would rather be compared to – or confused with!"
1943 – 2007
Attorney and Advocate for Tobacco Control"
Judy Wilkenfeld brought people together, made everyone with whom she came into contact better, and became a close and trusted friend, confidante, mentor, and role model to so many people with whom she worked."
1922 – 2006
Vermont Store Owner, Drama Teacher, and Theater Company Founder"She and Howard opened a third store and managed all three, while she translated her theatrical training and love of fashion into show-stopping window displays."
1941 – 2006
Activist, Writer, and Radical Thinker"Willis brought lucidity and style to the most controversial and baffling cultural issues — her thought was a beacon of clarity. For those of us fortunate enough to have been her comrades, anticipating her insights was part of what kept us returning to meetings month after month, year after year."
Eta Chait Wrobel,
1916 – 2008
Partisan, Jewish Activist"Her life was filled with the love of giving and of fighting for truth, justice, and the Jewish people."
Rosalyn Sussman Yalow,
1921 – 2011
Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist"Ultimately, RIA created “an explosion of knowledge” in every aspect of medicine and was used in thousands of laboratories in the United States and abroad."
1913 – 2002
Teacher and Writer"Shulamis's commanding voice filled up the cluttered apartment and I could see how much she loved an audience. It hardly mattered if I was one woman in her kitchen, or a group of children on a frozen plain, or a gathering of old Yiddishists downtown. She was holding court, spinning tales, imparting wisdom."
1915 – 2008
Writer"...her protagonists come from the variable Jewish life of New York. ... these women are assimilated but concerned with utilizing the morals of the Jewish past and its prophetic ethic—a concern for justice and dignity."
1916 – 2007
Pioneer Folklorist"She was an expert – a hands-on, old-fashioned, tough-conditions field worker – on the musical traditions of Mexico, Guatemala, and Puerto Rico and issued many of her field recordings on vinyl. Until the end of her life she was regularly invited to lecture in Mexico. Late in life, she also began an innovative internet-based study of music used by Neo-Nazis. "
1922 – 2008
Artist, Activist, Social Worker, Teacher"Roz was a more rounded person than I was. She didn't just love music, she played music. She didn't just appreciate art, she became a painter. She loved flowers, and planted them. She loved theater and took to the stage."
1950 – 2011
Film Producer, Cancer Activist"She was one of those singular forces of nature, who could move mountains, once thought immovable."