About the Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women


By Jennifer Sartori, PhD, Editor, and Judith Rosenbaum, PhD, CEO of the Jewish Women’s Archive, June 2021

In 2017, the Jewish Women’s Archive (JWA) embarked on the major project of updating, expanding, and redesigning the Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. The resulting new edition represents the latest stage in the evolution of a foundational resource that has had a significant impact on students, scholars, and the general public for more than two decades. 

The Encyclopedia was first published in 1997 as the groundbreaking and prize-winning Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Deborah Dash Moore and Paula Hyman. Publisher Moshe Shalvi and editors Paula Hyman and Dalia Ofer then built upon this work with their Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. This edition, released on CD-ROM in 2006, expanded the content beyond North America and became the largest collection of well-researched and thoroughly vetted material about Jewish women. In 2009, the Jewish Women’s Archive brought the Encyclopedia onto its website, making it freely accessible to anyone with an internet connection. In its new home and format, the Encyclopedia soon attracted more than a million users each year from more than 230 countries around the world. (Learn more about previous editions.)

But neither history nor scholarship stand still. Living figures and contemporary movements profiled in the Encyclopedia continue to make important contributions. New influential people and organizations have appeared on the scene. Scholarship progresses, continually uncovering information about the past and reconsidering earlier interpretations. And the work of ensuring that Jewish history is fully inclusive of previously marginalized populations remains an ongoing project. All these developments, combined with JWA’s commitment to accurate, cutting-edge scholarship and the need for up-to-date online resources, demanded that we create a new edition. 

We have given this edition a new name—the Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women—to honor the legacies of Israeli feminist Alice Shalvi, the late pioneering Jewish feminist historian Paula E. Hyman, and the late Moshe Shalvi, the publisher whose dedication brought the 2006 edition to fruition.

Under the direction of editor Jennifer Sartori, assisted and advised by an international Editorial Board of nearly 60 distinguished scholars, this edition includes hundreds of updated entries on contemporary figures and topics, revised entries incorporating the latest scholarship, and new entries addressing populations and topics that were previously un- or under-represented—such as women in Sephardi and Mizrahi communities, Jewish women of color, LGBTQ Jews, and women with disabilities.

The enterprise invited and challenged us to consider significant changes in both the Jewish community and scholarship over the fifteen years since the 2006 publication of Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia and the nearly 25 years since the publication of Jewish Women in America

First, what it means to be “encyclopedic” regarding the Jewish community has radically changed, as we recognize the rich diversity of Jews around the world in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, Jewish affiliation, and more. For this edition, we invited scholars with expertise in Latin America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and North Africa, as well as those who study Jews of Color, Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews, and queer Jews, to join our Editorial Board, ensuring that these populations would be well represented in this current version of the encyclopedia. 

Theoretical shifts in the understanding of identity also shaped our approach to the new edition, as JWA staff partnered with the Editorial Board to define priorities and criteria for inclusion. Both “Jewish” and “woman” are less stable categories than they were in the mid-1990s, when the Encyclopedia’s first iteration was created. To be sure, “Jewish” was already a contested term at that time, as the editors of Jewish Women in America noted. We follow their practice of defining Jewishness not according to traditional Jewish law, which sees only the biological children of Jewish women and individuals converted by Orthodox rabbis as Jews. Rather, we include converts to Judaism (no matter the affiliation of the rabbi who performed the conversion), anyone with at least one Jewish parent who defined herself and/or was perceived by others as a Jew (even if they converted from Judaism as adults or dissociated themselves from the Jewish community), and anyone who self-identifies as Jewish. These more expansive definitions of Jewishness better reflect the complexities and diversity of what it means to be a Jewish woman.

The non-static, non-binary nature of gender identity is a more recent theoretical consideration (though a lived reality for many since time immemorial). More flexible ideas about gender experiences beyond male and female allow us to read old stories through new lenses, opening up a range of interpretive possibilities. This new edition of the Encyclopedia includes transwomen and non-binary people, with acute awareness of the responsibility to continue to respond to shifting identities. 

Previous editions of the Encyclopedia set rough age criteria for inclusion. For this edition, we chose a more flexible approach to age, as we did for the categories of “Jew” and “woman,” recognizing that many younger women have made tremendous contributions in areas of vital importance to the Jewish community. We did, however, prioritize women whose major accomplishments (as much as we can predict) are behind them, rather than ahead of them, in order to be better able to assess a figure’s overall significance.

Earlier editions of the Encyclopedia noted that the limited availability of scholarship on Jewish women posed a challenge to their creation. Thankfully, that reality is changing, and the resulting research both spurred the need for this edition and helped us broaden its scope. We are proud that the Encyclopedia’s previous iterations played no small role in seeding much of this new scholarship. At the same time, we recognize that large areas of study—such as Mizrahi communities and Jewish women of color—are still under-researched, placing limitations on what we are able to include at this time. The Covid-19 pandemic, too, slowed progress and prevented some essays from being ready for publication, as authors dealt with barriers to travel, lack of access to files and archival material, complicated teaching responsibilities, and increased caretaking demands on their time. We look forward to continuing to add new material on an ongoing basis—an advantage made possible by the online format.

In developing this new edition, we were conscious of the need to adapt the Encyclopedia to a form more befitting an online resource. In addition to updating and expanding the content, we redesigned the format and features to align with best practices for user experience, enhancing readability and navigability. We also integrated into the Encyclopedia the collection of JWA’s short “profiles” (written by JWA staff, not by scholars); these now function as “stub” entries or placeholders for pieces yet to be written by experts. Moving forward, we will revise and expand the Encyclopedia not as discrete editions but in a continuous process. As we did for this expansion project, in which we followed not only the guidance of our esteemed Editorial Board but also recommendations sourced from a general audience, we welcome your suggestions of people and topics worthy of inclusion; you may submit them to us via this form.

While the format and content of the Encyclopedia has evolved over the years, the goals remain consistent. As Paula Hyman and Dalia Ofer articulated in the preface to the 2006 edition:

This encyclopedia seeks to make available to all who are interested in Jewish history and culture the varied accomplishments of Jewish women and their many contributions to the Jewish historical experience over the course of the past three millennia. Women have been largely absent from most accounts of the Jewish past, because male experience served as the guide to historical significance. Only recently have women begun to be integrated into Jewish encyclopedias, but not yet in proportion to their demographic and social importance and their public activity…In general reference works, Jewish women are most often not noted as Jews because their Jewishness is not considered relevant to their accomplishments. As editors we strove to recover the Jewish women who remained invisible in standard reference works.

The original editors also expressed their hope that the Encyclopedia would enable both scholars and non-specialists to “discover unknown dimensions of Jewish history” and come to understand the wide range of Jewish women’s activities and contributions throughout history. As we began work on the new edition, our research into audience and use revealed that the online version—freely accessible and bolstered by the excellent search engine optimization of the JWA site—served as an entry point to people of all religious backgrounds, genders, and ages seeking knowledge on Jews and Jewish history. We were proud to realize that, thanks to this unique and rich resource, users around the world are beginning their journey of Jewish learning through the lens of Jewish women’s lives. This is an exciting outcome that the original editors and publishers may not have imagined or anticipated.

We do not expect that the Encyclopedia will ever be truly comprehensive or complete, but we look forward to continuing our work to expand, enhance, and grow it. We hope you will find as much meaning and inspiration in these women’s lives as we have.



We are grateful to the following donors, whose support was essential to the revision and expansion of the Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women.

Martha Ackelsberg and Judith Plaskow
Anita Altman
Roselyn Bell
Susan G. Berk
Ellen Chesler
Nancy Cott
Flora Davidson
Barbara and Eric Dobkin
Dorot Foundation
Jacqueline Koch Ellenson and David Ellenson
Leora Fishman
Harriet Freidenreich
Genesis Prize Foundation
Tobie Brandriss Goodman
Paula Gottesman
Sally A. Gottesman
Judith Hauptman
Israel Institute
Jenna Weissman Joselit
Marion Kaplan
Judith and Bill Kates
Elizabeth Koltun
Maureen McLeod
Judi Meirowitz
Anne Mintz
Deborah Dash Moore
Deborah Mowshowitz
Olive Bridge Foundation
Kathleen Peratis
Riv-Ellen Prell
Toby Reifman
Gail T. Reimer
The Ingeborg, Tamara, and Yonina Rennert Women in Judaism Forum Fund
Brenda Brown Rever
Adina Rosenbaum
Judith Rosenbaum
Dr. Stanley Rosenbaum
Dr. Dina Rosenfeld
Sharon Schumack
Shuly Rubin Schwartz
Elaine Shizgal-Cohen

We could not have completed this project without the invaluable contributions of a wonderful group of interns and assistants:

Alex Asal
Alyx Bernstein
Emily Cohen
Sarah Drozda
Hilda Gitchell
Lila Goldstein
Rebecca Hersch
Lisa Kahn
Cassia Kisshauer
Brianna Lavelle
Caralyn Levine
Augusta Owens
Daniella Goodman Rabner
Ariel Schenkman
Laura Schwarz
Jessie Sigler
Susanna Sigler
Lily Spar
Emma Tabenken
Sophie Visscher-Lubinizki
Naomi Walthour

Lastly, our heartfelt appreciation goes to the hundreds of authors and members of the Editorial Board who have worked so hard to bring this project to fruition.


Editorial Board

Nathan Abrams
Rachel Adelman
Natalia Aleksiun
Natan Aridan
Samantha Baskind
Ruth Behar
Adriana Brodsky
Tal Dekel
Shirli Gilbert
Abigail Green
Liora Halperin
Rachel Harris
Harriet Hartman
Alma Heckman
Norma Baumel Joseph
Tamar Kamionkowski
Marion Kaplan
Maya Balakirsky Katz
Kathryn Hellerstein
Ellen Kellman
Helen Kim
Rebecca Kobrin
Hannah Kosstrin
Rachel Kranson
Laura Leibman
Judy Lewin
Naomi Lindstrom
Renee Levine Melammed
Carol Meyers
Pam Nadell
Heather Nathans
Hilary Rubinstein
Rachel Rubinstein
Noam Sienna
Shayna Sheinfeld
Lisa Silverman
Lauren Strauss
Susan Suleiman
Zohar Weiman-Kelman
Dalia Wassner
Beth Wenger
Mira Yungman


Editorial Board (2021 edition)

Nathan Abrams
Rachel Adelman
Natalia Aleksiun
Natan Aridan
Judith Baskin
Samantha Baskind
Ruth Behar
Adriana Brodsky
Aryeh Cohen
Tal Dekel
Daniella Doron
Jodi Eichler-Levine
Charlotte Fonrobert
ChaeRan Freeze
Sharon Geva
Shirli Gilbert
Rachel Gordan
Abigail Green
Rachel Harris
Lori Harrison-Kahan
Harriet Hartman
Alma Heckman
Kathryn Hellerstein
Regina Igel
Sarah Imhoff
Norma Baumel Joseph
S. Tamar Kamionkowski
Marion Kaplan
Maya Balakirsky Katz
Ellen Kellman
Aziza Khazzoom
Helen Kim
Rebecca Kobrin
Hannah Kosstrin
Rachel Kranson
Laura Arnold Leibman
Naomi Morgenstern Leissner
Judith Lewin
Renée Levine Melammed
Naomi Lindstrom
Carol Meyers
Pamela Nadell
Heather Nathans
Noya Rimalt
Sarah Ross
Hilary Rubinstein
Rachel Rubinstein
Hannah Safran
Shayna Sheinfeld
Margalit Shilo
Lisa Silverman
Lauren Strauss
Susan Rubin Suleiman
Dalia Wassner
Zohar Weiman-Kelman
Beth Wenger
Mira Katzburg Yungman


Place-Names and Proper Names

The Encyclopedia Judaica (1972); the CD-ROM edition (1997) and the forthcoming revised edition is the largest and most comprehensive Jewish reference work and we used the Judaica spelling and transliteration from the Hebrew of place-names (in Ereẕ Israel) and proper names. (see Transliteration Table).

Transliteration Table

Consonants   Notes
א ' The aleph should be transcribed as a geresh (apostrophe) when it follows a sheva naẖ (silent sheva) e.g. יִגְאָל Yig'al. When the aleph comes between two vowels a geresh should be used to avoid combining the two vowels and to indicate that they are to be pronounced separately e.g. נֶאֱמָן Ne'eman, מֵאִיר Me'ir. The geresh is not used when the aleph is the first letter of the word e.g. אַהֲרֹן Aharon nor when it is unpronounced e.g., גֶּרָא Gera, רִאשׁוֹן Rishon.
בּB b
בV v
ג גּG g
ד דּD d
הH hThe ה is transliterated when it is unpronounced e.g., שָׂרָה Sarah.
וV vThe ו will not be transliterated when it is unpronounced e.g. יוֹסֵף Yosef.
זZ z
חH ẖ
טT t
יY yThe י will not be transliterated when it is unpronounced e.g., גִּיל Gil. When it is a vowel it is transliterated as a y, e.g., אַיָּלוֹן Ayyalon and at the end of words as an i, e.g. בְּנֵי bnei.
כּK k
כKh kh
לL l
מM m
נN n
סS s
ע'The ע should be transcribed as a geresh when it follows a sheva naẖ (silent sheva) e.g. גִדְעוֹן Gid'on. When the ע comes between two vowels a gerash should be used to avoid combining the two vowels and to indicate that they are to be pronounced separately e.g. יָעֵל Ya'el. The geresh is not used when the ע is the first letter of the word or the final letter e.g. עֱטָרָה Atara, גֶּבַע Geva.
פּP p
פF f
צẔ ẕ
קK k
רR r
שׁSh sh
שׂS s
ת תּT t
Vowels   Notes
(ַ) פתח   
(ָ) קמץ גדול}A a
(ֲ) חטף פתח 
(ֶ) סגול   
(ֵ) צירי}E e
(ֱ) חטף סגול
(ְ) שווא נע 
The sheva na (sounded sheva) should be transliterated in those words where the sheva is pronounced and is indicated by an "e" e.g. כְּפַר מְנַכֵם Kfar Menaẖem.
(ִ) חיריק}I i
(ֹ) חולם
(ָ) קמץ קטן}O o
(ֳ) חטף קמץ 
(וּ) שורק}U u
(ֻ) קיבוץ 
}J j
}Zh zh
}Ch ch
The dagesh ẖazak (forte) is indicated by doubling the letter except for the letter ש, e.g. רִנָּה Rinna, אַיָּלוֹן Ayyalon.
The definitive article ה is written separately from the word and is joined by a hyphen and the letter with a dagesh which follows the ה is not doubled e.g. הַבּוֹנִים Ha-Bonim, רָמַת הַשָּׁרוֹן Ramat ha-Sharon.



The following abbreviations are used for sources that are frequently cited in the bibliographies to the entries.

AJA Hebrew Union College—American Jewish Archives. American Jewish Archives. Volume 1 (1948) to present.

AIAmerican Israelite

AJHAmerican Jewish Historical Society. American Jewish History. Volume 68 (1978) to present.

AJHQ American Jewish Historical Society. American Jewish Historical Quarterly. Volumes 51–67. 1961–1978

AJYB Jewish Publication Society of America. The American Jewish Year Book. Philadelphia: American Jewish Committee, 1899 to present.

BDEAJ Rosenbloom, Joseph R. A Biographical Dictionary of Early American Jews. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1960.

BEOAJ Glassman, Leo M., ed. Biographical Encyclopaedia of American Jews. New York: Maurice Jacobs & Leo M. Glassman, 1935.

CCARYB Central Conference of American Rabbis. Yearbook of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. New York: Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1891–.

DAB Johnson, Allen et al., eds. Dictionary of American Biography. New York; Scribners’, 1946–.

EJEncyclopaedia Judaica. Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House Ltd, 1971–1972.

JE Singer, Isidore, ed. The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1901–1906.

NAW James, Edward T., et al., eds. Notable American Women, 1607–1950. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971.

NAW: modern Sicherman, Barbara and Carol Hurd Green, eds. Notable American Women, The Modern Period, A Biographical Dictionary. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980.

NYTimesNew York Times

PAJHS American Jewish Historical Society. Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society. Volumes 1–50. 1893–1960.

UJE Landman, Isaac, ed. The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, 1939–1943.

WWIAJ (1926) Who’s Who in American Jewry, 1926. New York: Jewish Biographical Bureau, Inc., 1927.

WWIAJ (1928) Who’s Who in American Jewry, 1928. 2nd ed. New York: Jewish Biographical Bureau, Inc., 1928.

WWIAJ (1938) Simons, John, ed. Who’s Who in American Jewry, Volume 3, 1938–1939. New York: National News Association, Inc., 1938.

WWWIAWho Was Who in America. Volumes 1–8. Chicago: Marquis, 1943–1985.



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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "About the Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women." (Viewed on April 13, 2024) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/about>.