The Encyclopedia features over 1,700 biographies, 300 thematic essays, and 1,400 photographs and illustrations on a wide range of Jewish women through the centuries -- from Gertrude Berg to Gertrude Stein; Hannah Greenebaum Solomon to Hannah Arendt; the Biblical Ruth to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
As a staff writer for the Village Voice during the early 1970s, Gornick reported on the explosion of American feminist consciousness through the prism of her own experience, and her willingness to use her own life experiences to tell a larger social story has become the hallmark of her writing. Whether she is writing impressionistic journalism or memoir, Vivian Gornick explores the actual and metaphoric significance of being an outsider—perpetually “half in, half out.”
Ukrainian-born Maria Gorokhovskaya was the top performer among all athletes, both male and female, at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, where, at the "advanced" age of thirty-one, she earned seven medals in the Games' gymnastics competitions.
A multi-faceted Yiddish writer, Shira Gorshman (who also wrote under the names Shirke Goman, Shire Gorman and Szyrke Gorszman) embodied the vision and struggles of Jewish socialism throughout her long and productive life. She was a passionate and tireless participant in the major social movements of the twentieth century and bore witness in her memoirs and fiction to all their configurations and manifestations.
Bessie Goldstein Gotsfeld’s name is synonymous with American Mizrachi Women (known today as Amit), the religious organization she helped to form. For thirty years, Gotsfeld was the Palestine (later Israel) representative for the organization. She supervised the establishment of vocational schools, children’s villages, and farms for religious youth, and forged a connection between women in the United States and children in Israel.
Jeane Herskovits Gottesman, a philanthropist noted for her spiritual devotion to her work, and a member of the national board of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, assumed a major leadership and fund-raising role as chair of the New York Youth Aliyah Committee in the 1930s.
Although she rejected the idea of the first Zionist Congress, the brilliant and multilingual Emma Leon Gottheil had a change of heart and became instrumental in the founding of Hadassah.
The equally powerful Zionist legacy of her father’s family adds a crucial dimension to the evolution of Govrin’s literary work. The story of his family’s immigration from the Ukraine to Palestine in the 1920s brings together Zionist ideological variants as represented by four generations. In her essay, The Case of Jewish Biography (2001), Govrin traces the story of her paternal great-grandfather, Izik Hajes (1856–1937), who mourned the destruction of the Temple and “carried his mystical messianic longings” to Jerusalem, where he settled in the hasidic neighborhood of Me’ah She’arim. Her grandfather, Mordecai Globman (1874–1943), was strictly orthodox; yet he supported the Haskalah (Jewish secular enlightenment) and joined Hovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion), the proto-Zionist movement which founded the first Jewish colonies in Ottoman-ruled Palestine. The writer’s father, Pinchas Govrin, was born in Shpilov in the Ukraine in 1904, emigrated to Palestine in 1921 and was among the founders of Kibbutz Tel Yosef in 1921. He died in 1995. His brothers and the next generation adhered to the Zionist socialist platform of the Po’alei Zion, a Zionist workers’ movement, and came to Palestine as pioneers to establish kibbutzim and drain the swamps.
Through the schools, philanthropic societies, and orphanages she established, Rebecca Gratz established a new model of religious education and made it possible for a new generation to identify as both fully Jewish and fully American.
In 1787, at the age of thirteen, Richea Gratz became the first Jewish woman to attend college in America when she matriculated with the first class at Franklin College (later Franklin and Marshall College of Lancaster, Pennsylvania).
On October 28, 1940, Italy invaded Greece but was rapidly chased back into Albania, where the Greeks held the Italians under siege for the next five months. In April 1941, responding to Mussolini’s call for help, the Germans invaded and overran Yugoslavia and Greece; by the end of May the bloody fighting in Crete ended mainland Greek independence; the king and his government relocated to Cairo and sporadic resistance continued in the mountains. In the subsequent partition, Bulgaria realized her irredentist claims to Macedonia and Thrace. Germany took Salonika and environs, the stretch along the Turkish border to separate the Bulgarians and the Turks, and most of Crete. The remainder of mainland Greece and her islands, several (e.g. Rhodes and Kos) already occupied before the war, were allocated to Italy.
A renowned “teacher of teachers,” Greenberg’s scholarly father, Sam Genauer, who was born in Czernovitz, Austro-Hungary in 1906, was brought to the United States at the age of two. He obtained a B.A. at Yeshiva University and in 1933 was ordained at its Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Rabbinical College. His homemaker wife, Sylvia (née Gensar), whom he married in 1933, was born in the Lower East Side of New York in 1913 and attended Seward Park High School and the University of Washington. Immediately after his ordination the couple moved to Seattle, where Genauer managed his family’s clothing business. It was there that their three daughters were born: Judy (Brickman) in 1934, Blu on January 21, 1936 and Rena (Schlaff) in 1938. The family returned to New York when Blu was in the fifth grade.
Deep love for the Jewish people informed the life of Aliza Greenblatt, an American Yiddish poet and an early, committed leader in Zionist and Jewish women’s organizations. Greenblatt was among the first to organize the American Jewish community and raise funds toward the establishment of a Jewish national home. Many of her poems, which were widely published in the Yiddish press, were also set to music and recorded.
As an international public health nurse during World War I and between the wars, Amelia Greenwald was a leader in the field of public health. She was born in Gainesville, Alabama, on March 1, 1881, to Joseph Greenwald (a grain dealer and mayor) and Elisha (Elise Haas) Greenwald, German Jewish immigrants who married in Memphis, Tennessee. She was the youngest of eight children: Isaac, Carrie, Jake, Morris, Sylvester, Julian, and Isadore. On her father’s knee, Greenwald listened to stories of the Confederate nurses during the Civil War and knew that she wanted to became a trained nurse.
Haika Grosman was born in Bialystok on November 20, 1919. She was the third and youngest child of Nahum (1890–1942) and Leah (née Apelbaum) Grosman (1891–Treblinka, August 1943), a member of a wealthy family imbued with Jewish tradition and culture, living in a city half of whose residents (about sixty thousand) were Jewish. Her father was a factory owner, from whom, she alleged, she inherited her looks: “short, blue-eyed, blond.”
Tatyana Grosman nurtured an entire generation of printmakers and raised printmaking in the United States to the status of a major fine art. Universal Limited Art Editions, which she founded in 1957 at her home in Long Island, New York, published prints by many of the major American artists of her generation and launched collaborative endeavors between artists and writers. Her home became a uniquely fertile environment providing both the tools and the critical encouragement for virtually every type of printmaking.
It was a rags-to-riches story of the first order. Jennie Grossinger, born to a poor family in a village in Austria, came to the New World, where she became not just successful, but reigning royalty of the Catskill circuit. Warm, kind, and generous, she was doyenne to an opulent resort affectionately known as Waldorf-on-the-Hudson. She was friend to governors, cardinals, and stars, and a philanthropist who enriched the world.
Mary Belle Grossman was, in 1918, was one of the first two women admitted to membership in the American Bar Association. After the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, she became one of Cleveland’s most successful political activists.
In her extensive unpublished correspondence with Wolfgang von Goethe, Sophie von Grotthuss (born Sara Meyer in Berlin) describes her difficult farewell to Judaism. Her mother, a woman possessed by an unnatural hatred of religion, “married [her] off at the age of fifteen to a wretched creature who for ten years made [her] life a hell.” As she frequently wrote, the marriage in 1778 to the merchant Lippman Wulf completely destroyed her. After Wulf’s death in 1788, she revived, traveled a great deal, particularly to the spas of Bohemia, where in 1795 she became acquainted with Goethe, with whom she corresponded until 1824. In 1799 she married the Livonian Baron Ferdinand Dietrich von Grotthuss, who was soon impoverished and became postmaster in Oranienburg. In her later years she was a prolific author. In an unpublished letter to Goethe, dated August 14, 1824, she refers to a novel, a play and several stories, which she was sending him for approval. Apart from the story, “Sophie ou la difference de l’Education,” two unpublished manuscripts, “Opinions of a German Woman, written in Dresden in the summer of 1814,” and a play, The German Governess, her works appear to have been lost.
Ruth Gruber was born on September 30, 1911, in Brooklyn, the fourth of five children of David and Gussie (Rockower) Gruber, Russian Jewish immigrants who owned a wholesale and retail liquor store and later went into real estate. She graduated from New York University at age eighteen and in 1930 won a fellowship to the University of Wisconsin, where she received her M.A. in German and English literature. In 1931, Gruber received a fellowship from the Institute of International Education for study in Cologne, Germany. Her parents pleaded with her not to go: Hitler was coming to power. Nevertheless, she went to Cologne and took courses in German philosophy, modern English literature, and art history. She also attended Nazi rallies, her American passport in her purse, a tiny American flag on her lapel. She listened, appalled, as Hitler ranted hysterically against Americans and even more hysterically against Jews.
In 1973, in her nineties, Sidonie Matzner Gruenberg declared that her eighties had been the best decade of her life. She had published the revised edition of her monumental four-volume The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Child Care and Guidance (1967) and had earned more money than in any previous decade.
Known during her lifetime as the “Angel of Grand Street,” Rose Gruening was head worker and founder of the Grand Street Settlement in New York City. Although Gruening never liked this title, it attests to her significance in the eyes of many people. Like Jane Addams, Lillian Wald, and other women settlement workers of the early twentieth century, Gruening helped to create a social “safety net” through voluntary civic activism, before the concept of public responsibility for poor and disadvantaged Americans was enacted by the U.S. Government. Once the Depression and the New Deal transformed the workings of social welfare in the United States, the social service concept as practiced by Gruening and her contemporaries changed dramatically. Before it did so, however, thousands of immigrant families from the Lower East Side of New York experienced Gruening’s settlement house activism in personal and profound ways.
Rivka Guber (née Bumaghina) was born in Novo-Vitebsk in the Ukraine and went to high school in Yekaterinoslav (Dnipropetrovsk) intending to continue her studies at university. The outbreak of the revolution disrupted her plans and forced her to return to Novo-Vitebsk where she worked as a teacher. In 1920 she married Mordecai Guber, who was born in 1893 in the town of Gorodik near Bialystok. They immigrated to Palestine in 1925. The couple settled in Rehovot, where Mordecai taught Hebrew. They were among the founders of Kefar Bilu (1933), later leaving to join Kefar Warburg, where they raised their two gifted sons, Ephraim (b. 1927) and Zvi (b. 1931).
Florence Shloss Guggenheim was born on September 3, 1863, in Philadelphia, the daughter of Lazarus and Barbara (Kahnweiler) Shloss. She married Daniel Guggenheim on July 22, 1884. As part of the Guggenheim family, Daniel was on the board of directors of the American Smelting and Refining Company. The Guggenheims had two sons, Robert and Harry, and a daughter, Gladys Guggenheim, who would later marry Roger W. Straus of New York, who cofounded the publishing house Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
Irene Rothschild Guggenheim founded the Brightside Day Nursery and made it her life’s work, overseeing children’s services from day care for newborns to vocational training for teenagers. She later became director of the association of Day Nurseries of New York City, raising the standards of childcare in New York, and a trustee of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Encyclopedia." (Viewed on February 19, 2019) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/content/G>.