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.
Numerous accounts scattered throughout early halakhic literature indicate that women had many traditions and customs of their own. Their religious life was characterized by a degree of independence and was not exclusively dependent on external halakhic norms. The manner in which women observed mitzvot was extremely influential in the formative stage of halakhah, before it was crystallized, recorded and sealed in the Shulhan Arukh.
A noted historian of contemporary Jewry, with a research specialization in Holocaust studies, Dalia Ofer was born in Jerusalem on January 8, 1939.
Yiddish became the spoken language of the Jews who settled in the German-speaking lands and of those who emigrated from there to other countries. An interactive bilingual Hebrew-Yiddish system developed and functioned throughout the Ashkenazi cultural area, persisting until the Haskalah period.
Both men and women came mainly to fulfill their wish to live in the Holy Land and to devote their lives to religious obligations. They have become known as the people of the Old Yishuv (settlers). From 1882 on, some of the newcomers arrived with new nationalistic ideals.
One of the most admired composers in Israel in the early twenty-first century, Betty Olivero has become known for her exquisite expressions of Jewish and Israeli cultural and national identity in her music.
Writer Tillie Olsen is a leading spokesperson for silent and oppressed workers, especially creative women whose daily routine stifles their expression.
Critics have always found dignity and humor, plus “an unerringly true adjustment of weight to line” in the sculpture of Chana Orloff, one of the “Ecole de Paris,” who said that she wanted her works “to be as alive as life …”
Margalit Ornstein (nèe Oppenheimer) is perceived as the “founding mother” of Israeli dance, a pioneer of modern dance in Erez Israel and of the revolutionary ideas of the new “body culture” movement.
After emigrating to Palestine with her mother and twin sister at the age of ten, the Ornstein sisters formed a celebrated dancing duo. In addition to years of performing dances in the style of German “Free Dance” and influenced by her pioneer status in Erez Israel, she taught for sixty years at the Ornstein Studio in Tel Aviv, one of Israel’s most prominent schools.
A dancer and choreographer, Yehudit immigrated to Palestine from Vienna in 1921, together with her mother Margalit Ornstein and her twin sister Shoshana.
Israela Oron was active in effecting women’s integration into the military and in ensuring the recognition of their enormous potential in contributing to the Israel Defense Forces.
Orpah is one of the secondary characters of the Book of Ruth, which tells the reader only that she was Naomi’s second daughter-in-law. Like her sister-in-law Ruth, she initially wanted to accompany Naomi and return with her to her land; but, unlike Ruth, she finally accepted her mother-in-law’s arguments and went back to Moab. The Rabbinic expansion of this narrative, which relates both to Orpah’s actions and to her descendants, paints her in a generally unfavorable light.
Significant numbers of American Jews spent major portions of their childhoods in Jewish orphanages. Moreover, the institutions’ influence reached beyond the youngsters themselves to their parents and relatives, as well as to staff members and those who supported the institutions financially and otherwise.
Orthodox views on the role women may play in their community’s religious, educational, and social life have reflected the range of attitudes that religious group has harbored toward American society and culture.
Rosanna Dyer Osterman was instrumental in the founding of the first Jewish community in Texas. She brought the first rabbi to Texas in 1852 to consecrate the state’s first Jewish cemetery, and the first-known Jewish service in the state was held at the home of her brother Isadore Dyer in 1856.
Alicia Ostriker is a feminist revolutionary. As a poet, a Jew, and a woman, Ostriker starts from her own beginnings and shows how she has gathered the courage to move out into the clear new air of freedom and autonomy.
An engraver, designer and teacher, Fayga Perla Ostrower was born in Łódź, Poland, on September 14, 1920, the eldest daughter of Frimeta (1892–1940) and Ephraim (1895–1966) Krakowski.
A distinguished economist and fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Sylvia Ostry was born in Winnipeg to Morris J. and Betsy Stoller Knelman.
The life and fate of Berta Ottenstein, a pioneer of skin biochemistry and an outstanding dermatologist, epitomize both the successes and frustrations of women scientists in academia in Germany in the first half of the twentieth century.
R. Ben-Zion Hai Ouziel wrote extensively on religious, communal and national subjects, as well as Jewish philosophy, his articles appearing in several newspapers and journals. His election as the Sephardic Chief Rabbi (the Rishon le-Zion) carried a concurrent appointment to the Va’ad Le’ummi (National Council of Jews of Palestine) and he participated in the sessions in which the Jewish Agency was founded.
Margalit Oved—dancer, choreographer, singer, actress, musician—is the epitome of a performance artist. She has left an indelible mark on twentieth-century Jewish culture through her inventive and modern interpretations of ancient biblical tales.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Encyclopedia." (Viewed on September 26, 2018) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/content/O>.