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The decade in Jewish women's history

Since we celebrated the beginning of a new millenium, Jewish women have continued to make important "firsts" in a variety of fields, and have made their voices heard in the Jewish community, in American culture and politics, and in forums around the world.  Here are just some of the important events of this decade in Jewish women's history.  Please do add other important events and accomplishments in the comments.

Happy New Year everyone!

In religion:

September 21, 2001 Jewish Women Watching declare "Sexism is a sin."  

October 6, 2003 Aviel Barclay becomes first female Torah scribe. 

May 14, 2004 Mayyim Hayyim, a progressive community mikveh, opens. 

May 5, 2006 Haviva Ner-David is ordained as the first Orthodox woman rabbi, although she was not given the title of "rabbi."

February 19, 2009 Sara Hurwitz completed the required course of study in Yoreh
Deah to become an Orthodox spiritual leader.

June 6, 2009 Alysa Stanton ordained as first African-American female rabbi. 

In the Jewish community:

April 12, 2001 Launch of Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community (AWP).

March 26, 2003 Rabbi Janet Marder becomes president of Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR). 

July 20, 2003 JWI conference on Jewish domestic violence.

July 25, 2006 Hadassah honors Orthodox feminist Blu Greenberg. 

May 18, 2008 Jane Eisner Appointed First Female Editor of the "Forward." 

February 28, 2009 Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus installed as president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. 

In politics:

October 28, 2000 Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act becomes Law. 

February 4, 2002 Ann F. Lewis appointed National Chair of the Democratic Party's Women's Vote Center. 

November 5, 2002 Linda Lingle Elected Gov. of Hawaii. 

June 21, 2004 Felice Gaer asks U.N. to take on anti-Semitism. 

April 20, 2006 President George W. Bush declares May to be Jewish American Heritage Month, thanks to the efforts of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

March 19, 2009 Elana Kagan confirmed by U.S. Senate as first woman Solicitor General of the United States. 

In arts and culture:

April 6, 2000 Louise Nevelson stamps issued by U.S. Postal Service.

November 30, 2000 Death of Ilona Karmel, literary chronicler of the Holocaust. 

February 10, 2001 Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues" performed at Madison Square Garden. 

April 30, 2001 Lifetime achievement award for cookbook author Joan Nathan. 

April 18, 2002 Judy Chicago's "The Dinner Party" acquired by the Brooklyn Museum. 

October 15, 2003 Tovah Feldshuh stars in "Golda's Balcony."

December 8, 2003 Empire State Building lights up to celebrate NCJW. 

December 20, 2003 The Klezmatics' performance of Aliza Greenblatt's work, set to music by Woody Guthrie. 

May 23, 2004 Susan Sontag publishes last essay. 

March 22, 2005 Judith Leiber handbags featured in First Lady museum exhibit.

January 13, 2006 Opening of art exhibit of work by Holocaust survivor Daisy Brand.  

In education:

April 11, 2000 Historian Deborah Lipstadt is vindicated in libel suit brought by Holocaust denier. 

December 31, 2002 Maxine Frank Singer steps down as head of Carnegie Institution.  

October 18, 2004 We celebrated 350 years of Jewish women in America.

June 5, 2005 Gerda Lerner received an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

July 1, 2009 Martha Minow appointed Dean of Harvard Law School.

In sports:

August 10, 2000 Swimmer Dara Torres qualifies for fourth Olympics.

November 4, 2009 Women’s basketball pioneer Nancy Lieberman becomes the first woman to coach a NBA D-League men’s basketball team.

We Remember:

We also said goodbye to quite a few incredible Jewesses this decade, including Betty Comden, 1915 – 2006; Betty Friedan, 1921 – 2006; Tillie Olsen, 1913 – 2007; Grace Paley, 1922 – 2007; Barbara Seaman, 1935 – 2008; and Wendy Wasserstein, 1950 – 2006.  Visit We Remember to read their stories, and the stories of other women who made a difference in their communities and the world.

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How to cite this page

Berkenwald, Leah. "The decade in Jewish women's history." 31 December 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on January 20, 2018) <>.


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