The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

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

Margalit Shilo

Margalit Shilo was born 1942 in Rehovot, Israel. A historian of the Jewish community in pre-state Israel, she specializes in settlement, women, and gender. She is retired from the Land of Israel Studies Department at Bar Ilan University and is the author and editor of 12 books and 80 papers.

Articles by this author

Rosa Welt-Straus

Rosa Welt-Straus was a women’s rights activist who was active in the struggle for women’s suffrage in both New York and Mandatory Palestine. She helped form the International Woman Suffrage Alliance in New York and later became head of the Union of Hebrew Women in Palestine, which she went on to represent internationally.

Second Aliyah: Women's Experience and Their Role in the Yishuv

The desire of woman immigrants of the Second Aliyah for self-actualization and economic independence played an important part in shaping new Hebrew society in pre-state Israel. Civil sector women saw every Yishuv occupation, including traditionally feminine ones, as work of national importance and in service of the broader Zionist project.

Old Yishuv: Palestine at the End of the Ottoman Period

Women of the Old Yishuv saw their immigration to the Holy Land as serving spiritual sanctification at the expense of material suffering. Jewish women lived restricted lives as the result of child marriage, high infant mortality rates, and being confined to the domestic sphere in the Old Yishuv.

Kolech: Religious Women's Forum

Kolech (Hebrew for Your Voice): Religious Women’s Forum was founded in Jerusalem in 1998 with the aim of raising the standing of women in Jewish religious Orthodoxy. Among its achievements are a monthly pamphlet discussing the weekly Torah portion, halakhic issues, homiletics, and various Torah subjects; international conferences; and a guide for rabbis and communal workers on how to act when approached by women. Kolech is also active in the work of the Israeli Parliament, concerning certain laws which affect women.

Hannah Chizhik

Hannah Chizhik was an advocate for women’s emancipation and she was committed to the women workers movement. She became an expert in vegetable farming, agricultural work, and domestic labor for the groups of women pioneers. In 1926 she established a women’s smallholding in Tel Aviv, which became an important center for pioneer youth.

Sara Azaryahu

From her youth, the two issues Sara Azaryahu cared about most were women’s rights and Zionism. Dedicating her life to both causes, Azaryahu was active in the advancement of Hebrew girl’s schools all over Palestine and was a key player in the fight for equal rights for women in the Yishuv.

Union of Hebrew Women for Equal Rights in Erez Israel

The Union of Hebrew Women for Equal Rights in Erez Israel was founded in 1919 by a nonpartisan group of Jewish women who perceived women’s rights as being fundamentally entwined with the Zionist vision. After a long battle with the Orthodox parties, the Union won the support of the National Assembly in 1926 when the Assembly declared that women would have equal voting and participation rights.

Sarah Thon

Sarah Thon was born in Lvov, Galicia. She married Yaakov Thon and they settled in Ottoman Palestine at the end of 1907. She became the representative of the Women’s Association for Cultural Work in Palestine and established five workshops for girls. She was also influential in the establishment of the girls’ farm at Kinneret and in the fight for Jewish women’s suffrage.

Suffrage in Palestine

The fight for women’s suffrage in Palestine was a fierce one, pitting determined women activists with international support against the obstinance of ultra-Orthodox groups from the Old Yishuv. In 1920, fourteen women were elected to the National Assembly, and after years of thwarted efforts to revoke women’s suffrage, the 1926 Assembly decreed full equal rights for women in all areas of civil, economic, and political life.

Chana Shpitzer

Chana Shpitzer was an important figure in the field of Jewish education for girls in Jerusalem in the early 20th century. Shpitzer was a firm believer in single-sex education and her goal was for her students to develop academically, religiously, and practically. Her school was known for its emphasis on academic achievement, and almost all her students found gainful employment upon graduation.

Annie Edith Landau

As an educator in Jerusalem at the beginning of the twentieth century, Annie Edith Landau established new standards both in educational methods and in the cultural, ethical, and health arenas, while at the same time setting an example of polite and civilized behavior.

Olga Belkind-Hankin

Belkind-Hankin was a professional midwife active in Palestine in the early 20th century. Born near Minsk, she traveled to Palestine in 1886 and ended up remaining there. She settled in Jaffa with her husband, Yehoshua Hankin and became well known for her midwifery skills; she was most likely the first professional midwife in the country.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Margalit Shilo." (Viewed on September 27, 2022) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/author/shilo-margalit>.

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