Jewish American women have played a central role in the American labor movement since the beginning of the twentieth century. As women, they brought to trade unions their sensibilities about the organizing process and encouraged labor to support government regulation to protect women in the workforce.
Hedwig Lachmann was a poet and translator in Germany around the turn of the twentieth century. In addition to her original poetry, she translated works by Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, and Honoré de Balzac.
Joy Ladin is the Gottesman Professor of English at Stern College, a prolific poet, and a central figure in transgender theology. Her numerous written works reframe classical Jewish theological questions from a transfeminist perspective.
The Ladino press of the United States, still largely unexplored, is the most vital source for the multifaceted history of Sephardic women in early twentieth-century America. Though the editors, along with much of the readership, were male, these numerous publications are an important source of information about the social status and activities of Sephardic women, and even more so, illuminate male perception of them.
The role of women in the Ladino theater is an eloquent testimony to how they have contributed to their communities, responded to national crises, and lent their energies to the continuation of the Judeo-Spanish cultural and linguistic heritage. Esther Cohen, who wrote and performed plays in Brooklyn in the 1930s, is an exemplary model of women involved in American Judeo-Spanish theater.
Constance Rothschild Lady Battersea was a link between English and Jewish feminism, as she convinced upper- and middle-class Anglo-Jewish women to join English feminist groups such as the National Union of Women Workers and encouraged them to create Jewish women’s organizations, such as the Union of Jewish Women and the Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls and women, which allied themselves with the women’s movement.
Austrian film star Hedy Lamarr was best known in her day as an exotic beauty, cast in Hollywood as a foreign temptress. Yet during the war, with composer George Antheil, she invented a system for torpedoing U-Boats that was patented and then forgotten.
Phyllis Lambert is a Canadian architect and philanthropist. After receiving her M.S. in architecture in 1963, she established herself as a leader in urban conservation and public architecture. She has received many awards and honors, including the Gold Medal from the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada in 1991—Canada’s most prestigious architectural award.
Sara Landau was an accomplished twentieth-century economist who paired her scholarship with inexhaustible volunteerism in local and national organizations. Throughout her career in academia and service, Landau exemplified a category of economically independent middle-class Jewish women in America who both developed their own careers and devoted their energy to volunteer efforts, especially on behalf of their fellow Jews.
For over forty years, the Ann Landers advice column—written by Esther Pauline Friedman Lederer—helped lovelorn teens, confused parents, couples on the brink of divorce, grieving widows, and a myriad of others who were in need of counsel. Translated into over twenty languages, Ann Landers reached millions of readers with her clear, witty and sometimes sarcastic column.
Bertha Landsman dedicated her life to nursing, becoming one of the generation of giants who laid the foundation of the nursing profession in Palestine. She worked with Jewish, Christian, and Muslim women, persuading them to abandon folk superstition in favor of “correct knowledge and information,” and also taught nursing to local women students.
A committed anarchist by age fifteen, Lucy Fox Robins Lang contributed greatly to both the labor movement and the anarchist movement as aide and confidante to major figures like Emma Goldman and Samuel Gompers, though her work was largely uncredited and behind the scenes.
Pearl Lang was the first dancer Martha Graham allowed to perform some of Graham’s own roles. She also brought elements of the ecstatic poetry and dance of Jewish traditions to her own praised work.
After surviving political prison in Poland during the Holocaust, Anna Langfus moved to France and began writing plays and novels that dealt with themes of war, destruction, and loss. In her works, she weaved autobiographical material with fiction, capturing her harrowing experiences in her art.
Shulamit Lapid is an Israeli-Jewish novelist and playwright born in 1934. Her literary work focuses on feminism, social consciousness, and immigration to Israel.
Ruth Meckler Laredo was a phenomenal pianist, known for her renditions of Rachmaninoff’s piano works, her performances of Scriabin’s sonatas, her work as a teacher, and for pioneering the “Concerts with Commentary” event at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Starting her performance career at age eleven, Laredo was honored as Musician of the Month by High Fidelity/Musical America and was nominated three times for a Grammy Award.
Else Lasker-Schüler was a German-Jewish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright. Born in Elberfeld (today part of Wuppertal, Germany) in 1869, Lasker-Schüler is best known for her dream-like, bohemian poetry.
Estée Lauder became a household name for beauty thanks to the luxurious makeup, lotions, and perfumes she created. An astute businesswoman, she made a fortune manufacturing, marketing, and distributing cosmetics around the world and was regularly honored for her business achievements.
Lauren Tuchman, the first blind woman ordained as a rabbi, is best known for her championing inclusive Torah and disability justice. Though she is ordained in the Conservative movement, most of her work has been in community organizing and other non-congregational settings.