Believing in a future where all people had a voice and women’s work was valued, Estelle Sternberger found a myriad of ways to reshape public opinion, from hosting a political radio show to leading an organization for peace. In 1931, she helped found World Peaceways, an organization that used advertising to counteract war propaganda, and lobbied (unsuccessfully) to create a Cabinet-level Secretary of Peace. In 1936 she published The Supreme Cause: A Practical Book about Peace, which offered thoughtful analysis of the political and economic issues that lead to conflict. Until 1965 she worked as a political commentator, discussing political and cultural events on her New York radio show.
Estelle Sternberger fought for social justice as an activist, a writer, and a radio commentator. Her interpretation of the moral and ethical code of Judaism informed her vision of a world where the masses would hold power and women would work outside of the home. Despite her own bourgeois background, she added her own powerful voice to the early twentieth-century clamors for reform.
Born in 1886 in Cincinnati to Hannah (Greeble) and Abraham Miller, Estelle was educated at the University of Cincinnati and the School of Jewish Philanthropy in Cincinnati. Upon completion of her studies, she joined a number of civic movements and began to lecture and write on left-wing concerns.
In 1923, while executive secretary of the National Council of Jewish Women, she compiled information about the careers of contemporary Jewish American women. She was very active in the Jewish community and held key posts in a number of Jewish women’s organizations.
In the 1930s, Sternberger became the executive director of World Peaceways. Her book The Supreme Cause: A Practical Book About Peace (1936) is an impressive analysis of military and economic issues that have an impact on peace.
In time, Sternberger turned from activism to commentary. She was an outspoken personality on radio, discussing noteworthy political and cultural events. She retired from this second career in 1965.
Estelle Sternberger and her husband, Harry Sternberger, raised a daughter, Minnette, while working and living in New York City. A second marriage to Rabbi J. Max Weiss ended when he died in 1968.
Estelle Sternberger died on December 23, 1971.
“Estelle Sternberger dies at 85: Radio Commentator on Politics.” NYTimes, December 24, 1971, 28:5.
Marcus, Jacob Rader. The American Jewish Woman: A Documentary History. New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1981.
Rogow, Faith. Gone to Another Meeting: The National Council of Jewish Women, 1893–1993. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1993.
Sternberger, Estelle. A Practical Book About Peace. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1936.
WWIAJ (1928, 1938).