The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Mary Gendler

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Mary Gendler until we are able to commission a full entry.

Mary Loeb Gendler has helped shape social justice movements in indirect but effective ways, from crafting new rituals for Jewish feminists to helping Tibetan exiles leverage the tools of nonviolent protest. Gendler graduated from Stanford University in 1962 with a BA in English. She became involved in a variety of civil rights, environmentalist, and Jewish renewal causes, both alone and alongside her husband, Everett, and the couple marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Alabama. As an early activist in the Jewish feminist movement, Gendler wrote numerous articles considering alternatives to the patriarchal structure of current Jewish belief and practice. She helped create new rituals for women’s involvement in Judaism, from rituals that acknowledged the female experiences of menstruation and menopause to ceremonies for welcoming Jewish baby girls that would have the same power and significance that circumcision has for Jewish boys. Gendler went on to earn an EdD from Boston University in 1984. She worked in private practice in Andover and served as the clinical director of the Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts. After her retirement in 1995, Gendler and her husband began working with Tibetan exiles to create strategies for nonviolent protest against the Chinese communist regime. In 2007 they helped found the Active Nonviolence Education Center in Dharamsala, India.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Mary Gendler." (Viewed on October 1, 2023) <>.


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