Emma Goldman, 1869 - 1940
Taube Bienowitch was born into an educated and relatively affluent Jewish family in Lithuania. At the age of 14 or 15, she married Leon Zodokoff, a physician with whom she had two daughters. Zodokoff died in the mid-1860s, and a few years later Taube agreed to an arranged marriage to Abraham Goldman.
Taube was still adjusting to her new marriage when Emma was born in 1869. Her bruised heart was briefly soothed by her daughter's birth, but Abraham's disappointment that his first child was not a son marred the joy of the new baby. Within a year, Taube gave birth to a boy. Two more sons were born in 1873 and 1875.
Having seemingly lost her capacity to love with the death of her first husband, Taube was often embittered and withdrawn. What little emotion she did display was focused on her first-born son, who died at the age of six. Her marriage to Abraham was rocky from the start, and the couple clashed continuously over how to support their growing family.
Emma was deeply marked by her parents' troubled marriage and their preference for their sons, and she resented her mother's emotional distance and failure to protect her from the domineering Abraham. Yet Taube was a strong and intelligent woman. She played an integral role in supporting the family and was always active in local community and religious life. In Russia, she acted as spokesperson on behalf of Jewish mothers desperate to keep their sons from being drafted into the army. Later in Rochester, NY, she became heavily involved in Jewish philanthropic work. Despite her difficult relationship with her mother, Emma did believe that she had inherited from her parents her "ability to think for [herself] and a considerable mental capacity."
- Quotation from New York Sun, May 2, 1909, cited in Alice Wexler, Emma Goldman: An Intimate Life (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984), 9.
- Remaining information from Wexler, 8-10; Candace Falk, Love, Anarchy, and Emma Goldman (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984), 13-15, revised paperback edition from Rutgers University Press, 1990, 1999; Richard Drinnon, Rebel in Paradise: A Biography of Emma Goldman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), 4-6.