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.
Elena Kabischer, a graphic artist, painter and sculptor was born on March 23, 1903 in Vitebsk into the family of a craftsman. In 1916 she started studying in the private School of Drawing and Painting managed by Yehuda Pen (1854–1937), the oldest of Vitebsk painters, among whose pupils were also Marc Chagall (1887–1985) and Eliezer Lisitsky (1890–1941).
Until the year 2000, when Hagar Kadima founded the Israel Women Composers’ Forum, which she chaired until 2005, not even connoisseurs could have named more than a handful of significant Israeli women composers. The Forum is especially significant when one considers that as of the early 1990s, out of approximately two hundred Israeli works performed by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (founded in 1936), only a handful were written by women composers.
Kadman was active in a number of international organizations of folk music and dance, lecturing extensively at conferences, where she presented her documentary films of the ethnic and folk dances of Israel. In the course of a half-century of creating a popular dance movement, Kadman published a vast and significant body of educational materials for dance leaders—pamphlets, records and handbooks.
Kagan’s Knesset career was studded with important legislative achievements and contributions. As a member of the First Knesset she initiated deliberation in 1951 on the Law of Family and the Equality of Women, a very detailed bill dealing with the broad issues of equality of the sexes in society and in the family.
Helena Kagan, a pioneer of pediatric medicine in pre-State Palestine, is known to this day as the children’s doctor of Jerusalem, the city where she settled following her aliyah in 1914. Kagan tended to generations of children—Jews, Muslims and Christians—saving many of them from sickness and death. She devoted her life to improving welfare services and living conditions.
The recipient of many prestigious literary prizes, the “darling” of Israeli academe and the subject of several scholarly Hebrew monographs, Kahana-Carmon’s central place in Israeli literature was formally recognized in 2000, when she was awarded the coveted Israel Prize.
Dorothy C. Kahn, an outstanding social worker, lived through the Depression and World War II, major crises of her generation and the twentieth century. Through her innovative administrative capacity, she developed, implemented, and advocated for social welfare programs and policies whose underlying principles upheld her deepest beliefs about what social welfare could mean in a democracy.
“There is no sex in citizenship and there should be none in politics.” So believed Florence Prag Kahn, the first Jewish woman to serve in the United States Congress. Though she arrived in the House of Representatives via a special election after the death of her Republican congressman husband, Julius Kahn, in 1924, she went on to win reelection in her own right five times (1925–1937) and to play a major role in shaping the economy and the geography of the San Francisco Bay Area.
In 1947, Harper Brothers launched Harper Novels of Suspense under the leadership of a new editor named Joan Kahn. When one of those books, The Horizontal Man by Helen Eustis, won the annual Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America as the best first mystery novel of 1946, Kahn decided she “was in the right business.”
Margarete Kahn was a student of the great mathematician David Hilbert (1862–1943), who decisively influenced the development of mathematics around the turn of the century. Of his sixty-nine doctoral students, six were women—four foreigners and two German-born Jewish women. Both the latter wrote their doctoral theses on topology and worked on Problem sixteen of the famous Twenty-three Mathematical Problems presented by Hilbert in a lecture he delivered in 1900 at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Paris.
“Men have been running this world for thousands of years. Obviously in a lousy fashion. Now it’s our turn.” These words are typical of Miriam Kainy, winner of the Israel Prime Minister’s Literary Prize in 1997, who regards herself as the “big mamma” of Israeli women playwrights—a claim which is difficult to contest.
Born on July 6, 1907 in Chrzanów (Schidlow), Poland, to community employee Fischel Engel (1884–1956) and Shoshana, née Offen (1883–1975), Golda Malka (later Mascha) arrived in Germany at the beginning of World War I, when her family fled from the bloody pogroms in Galicia.
Known for her majestic bearing, great beauty, and fine diction, Bertha Kalich was the first female actor to make the transition from the Yiddish to the English stage. Critics called her the “Jewish Bernhardt” and she herself later estimated that she had played some 125 roles in seven languages during her long theatrical career. Kalich was one of the great stars of the golden age of the American Yiddish theater and, for a time, a leading light of mainstream American drama as well.
Ita Kalish, Zionist activist, Jewish Agency employee and Israeli civil servant, journalist and memoir writer, was born April 5, 1903 in Maciejowice, Poland. Her father, Rabbi Mendel of the Warka Hasidic dynasty, at that time rabbi of the town, later succeeded his father Rabbi Simha Bunem of Warka as Rebbe of Otwock.
In the first pages of her autobiography My Life, My Theater Ida Kaminska writes of her mother Esther Rachel, termed “the Jewish Eleonora Duse,” that she was educated by three forces: “the poverty she saw with her clever eyes, the suffering with which her great heart empathised, the injustice against which she was able to rebel. All became components of Esther Rachel Kaminska.”
“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” In 1901, Lizzie Kander and Mrs. Henry Schoenfeld used this adage in the title of a cookbook produced for the benefit of the first settlement house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. By 1984, nearly two million copies of The Settlement Cook Book: The Way to a Man’s Heart had been sold. Its success can be attributed to the determination and ingenuity of a woman known as the “Jane Addams of Milwaukee.”
Over a sixty-year career as a writer, actor, coproducer, and activist, Fay Kanin was awarded several Emmys and Peabodys, the ACLU Bill of Rights Award, the Crystal Award from Women in Film, the Burning Bush Award from the University of Judaism, and nominations for Oscar and Tony awards. She served as President of the Motion Picture Academy for an unprecedented four terms (1983-1988).
Aline Kaplan was one of the most dynamic Jewish leaders of the twentieth century. As executive director of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization, Kaplan touched thousands of lives both in the United States and abroad. She credited Hadassah’s success to “the level of creative leadership and commitment of its volunteers,” which numbered 370,000 worldwide under her leadership.
Anna Kaplan was an American Jewish nurse who contributed significantly to developing the concept of nursing as a profession in Erez Israel at the beginning of the twentieth century. She was a leader in founding the nursing school, which later became the Henrietta Szold-Hadassah School of Nursing at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
Mordecai Kaplan (1881–1983), the founding father of Reconstructionist Judaism, was a lifelong supporter of the rights of women. The roots of his concern for women may go back to his father: Rabbi Israel Kaplan, though strictly traditional, was concerned that his daughter Sophie (a few years older than Mordecai) have a Jewish education.
“Woman of valor” and “a tiny dynamo”—these phrases describe Regina Kaplan (nicknamed Kappy), nurse, teacher, hospital administrator, and health care innovator.
Rose Kaplan was a pioneer in health care in Palestine and helped to initiate the medical work funded by Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, in the years after its founding in 1912.
Family law and personal status of women are important aspects of both the daily life and the halakhah of Karaite communities. Karaite legal sources often deal with rules pertaining to betrothal, marriage, divorce, ritual purity and incest. Crucial to the identity and the continuity of Karaite community, these issues had considerable impact on the relationships between Karaites and mainstream Rabbanite Jews.
Not just an ordinary fashion designer, Donna Karan has proved she is an extraordinary New York designer. She has stretched her role as “artist” in the high-paced designer world to include aspects of life far beyond the typical wardrobe.
May Karff, the “queen of American chess,” was a dominant force in American women’s chess for over forty years. She was born in Europe (exact place unknown) in 1914 and immigrated to America with her father sometime between 1927 and 1933. Her training in chess came both from her father and from experts in Palestine, with whom she played in her early years.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Encyclopedia." (Viewed on September 21, 2017) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/content/K>.