Politics and Government: Immigration

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Orit Adato

Adato enlisted in the IDF in 1973 and in due course served successively as commander of the two central Women’s Corps training bases (1994–1997), commander of the Women Teacher-Soldiers unit, and commander of the women in Nahal, where she directed the assistance given to immigrants from Ethiopia and the USSR. In 1997, she was promoted to the position of head of the Women’s Corps as a brigadier general at a time when the corps was in the process of being radically reorganized.

Ruth Aliav-Klüger

She was the only woman among the early members of the Mosad, which smuggled Jews out of Europe and into Palestine in an attempt to circumvent the aliyah restrictions of the British Mandatory authorities. Late in World War II Aliav-Klüger was among the first representatives of the Yishuv to meet with Holocaust survivors on European soil and come to the aid of the she’erit ha-pletah (surviving remnant). In early 1949 Aliav-Klüger returned to Israel and, like many of her Mosad comrades, joined the Zim national shipping company. In 1974 she was selected as Woman of the Year by the National Council Of Jewish Women in the United States in honor of the release of her book, The Last Escape, describing her activities with the Mosad le-Aliyah Bet between 1938 and 1941 (published originally in English and translated into Hebrew).

Annotated Bibliography and Guide to Archival Resources on the History of Jewish Women in America

This bibliography concentrates on books, chapters in anthologies, and periodical articles on the collective history of American Jewish women and archival resources on individuals and women’s organizations.

Mary Antin

Mary Antin

Antin celebrated the immigrant experience and the boundless opportunity of America, the land in which she, "Mashke, the granddaughter of Raphael the Russian... should be free to fashion my own life, and should dream my dreams in English phrases.”

Argentina: Jewish White Slavery

Between 1875 and 1936, Buenos Aires was a major prostitution hub. Immigrant Jewish women were desperate enough to seek work in legally sanctioned brothels run by Jewish pimps. Although Jewish women compromised just a third of legal prostitutes in Buenos Aires in 1910, they were disproportionately visible in Argentina’s Catholic society.

A Moroccan-Born Mother with Two of her Argentine-Born Daughters, circa 1929

Argentina: Sephardic Women

The Sephardic communities that settled in Argentina in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries came from various areas in the Sephardi world.

The "Ellis Island Missionaries"

Assimilation in the United States: Nineteenth Century

Scholars have conventionally considered the nineteenth century the German era in the American Jewish history. Between 1820 and 1880, more than two hundred thousand immigrants from German lands arrived in the United States. Besides German Jews, this transatlantic movement also included migrants from ethnically Czech, Hungarian, Polish, and Baltic territories that at that time remained under German political control or cultural influence.

The Orthodox Congregation B'nai David Sisterhood of Detroit, Michigan, circa 1950

Assimilation in the United States: Twentieth Century

Jewish women assimilating into a changing American society across the twentieth century navigated often conflicting gender roles. As they strove to achieve upward social mobility, they adapted Jewish assumptions of what women, especially married women, should do to accommodate American norms for middle class women. Their collective accomplishments registered in political activism, organizational creativity, strong support for feminism, religious innovation, and educational achievement in the face of antisemitism, stereotypes, and denigration.

Esther Abrahams

Australia: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Since the beginning of British colonialization of New South Wales in 1788, when between eight and fifteen Jews were among the convicts who arrived with the First Fleet, several waves of immigration have brought the Jewish population up to its present size.

Lillian Wald

Autobiography in the United States

Accounts of the immigrant experience, of feminist and/or activist involvement, of the changing role of women in Jewish and American life, as well as literary and political autobiographies, Holocaust survival narratives, and coming-of-age memoirs are all categories of autobiography to which American Jewish women have contributed copiously.

Reem Sisodia

Baghdadi Jewish Women in India

The “Baghdadis,” referring to Jews coming mainly from Baghdad, Basra and Aleppo, but also from other Arabic speaking parts of the Ottoman Empire, arrived in India in the late eighteenth century and ultimately formed important diaspora trading communities in Bombay and Calcutta.

Golde Bamber

Golde Bamber envisioned and institutionalized new educational structures to serve Jewish immigrant communities in Boston in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She served as director of the Hebrew Industrial School for Girls for forty years. Bamber’s pioneering work influenced settlement house, vocational, Jewish, and nursery school education in Boston and beyond.

Miriam Baratz at Kevuzat Deganyah Aleph

Miriam Baratz

Miriam Baratz was a founding member of Deganyah Aleph, the first socialist Zionist farming commune in pre-state Israel. She advocated for communal childcare and education, and for a cooperative and egalitarian economic structure. The gender paradigm she helped establish at Deganyah set a precedent of egalitarianism for the entire kibbutz movement.

Vicki Baum, circa 1925

Vicki Baum

Baum frequently depicted powerful, self-reliant women caught up in the social and economic turbulence of twentieth-century Europe and America.

Labor Demonstration, 1915

Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca

Born in Latvia before immigrating to Baltimore as a child, Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca was one of America’s most remarkable women’s labor leaders. An outstanding union organizer and a captivating speaker, Bellanca understood the problems of the working class—people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds—and sought to improve conditions for workers.

Rebecca Reuben's Hebrew Class at the Huzurpaga High School for Indian Girls, circa 1913

Bene Israel

Of the three Jewish communities in India—the Bene Israel, the Cochin Jews, and the Iraqis or Baghdadis—that of the Bene Israel of Maharashtra in western India was by far the largest. Numbering perhaps twenty thousand at its peak in the early 1950s, the majority of the Bene Israel have since left their homeland—most going to Israel—so that only about five thousand remain in India.

Margarete Berent

Margarete Berent was the first female lawyer to practice in Prussia and the second female lawyer ever licensed in Germany. In 1925 she opened her own law firm in Berlin. Not only was she the first female lawyer and the head of her own law firm, but she was also an ardent feminist and active in promoting opportunities for women.

Timeline Showing the Major Organizations of Jews in Germany, 1893-1943

Cora Berliner

Cora Berliner was an economist and social scientist who held leadership positions in several major Jewish organizations in Germany between 1910 and 1942. These organizations included the Association of Jewish Youth Organizations in Germany, the Reich Representation of German Jews, and the League of Jewish Women.

Clementine Bern-Zernik

From 1936 through 1938, while Clementine Bloch was articled to lawyers, she realized that she was interested in criminal law and after passing the bar examination in 1938, she indeed gained a reputation in criminal cases. From 1948 to 1975 she was as a UN librarian at the New York Public Library and in this capacity served as a liaison between the Library and the UN.

Yara Bernette (Bernette Epstein)

Brazil, Contemporary

Brazil is home to the second largest Jewish community in South America. Jewish women played important roles in the absorption of Jewish immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, and also made important contributions to Brazilian intellectual and artistic life.

Britain: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

From 1656, when Jews were allowed to resettle in Great Britain, forming a small community in London until the present, the Anglo-Jewish community has benefited from the relative tolerance toward minorities that the British have displayed, as well as from general economic and political developments. To be sure, Parliament did not fully emancipate Jews until 1858 and social discrimination persisted into the twentieth century. Great Britain did, however, offer haven to successive waves of immigrants, and Jews have prospered on its shores, becoming British and participating in the larger culture of the urban middle classes. The status of Jewish women was affected both by larger social mores and by the nature of the Anglo-Jewish community.

Lorraine Weinrib, February 10-11, 2003

Canada: From Outlaw to Supreme Court Justice, 1738-2005

The positive aspect of the Canadian mosaic has been a strong Jewish community (and other communities) which nurtured traditional ethnic and religious values and benefited from the talent and energy of women and men restrained from participation in the broader society. The negative aspect has included considerable antisemitism and, especially for women, the sometimes stifling narrowness and conservatism of the community which inhibited creative and exceptional people from charting their own individual paths.

Elinor Caplan

Elinor Caplan is a Canadian Liberal Party politician who spent a quarter-century in elected office. She was the first Jewish woman to serve as cabinet minister at the provincial and federal levels. Caplan served as a Member of Toronto’s Provincial Parliament for twelve years and in 1997 she was elected to federal parliament.

Judy Feld Carr

Judy Feld Carr

In the late 1960s Judy and her husband were swept up in the Soviet Jewry campaign but soon refocused on the plight of Jews in Syria. Convinced that the approximately six thousand Jews of Syria needed strong western advocates, the couple organized a Syrian Jewish support committee.

Interior of the Clara de Hirsch Home for Working Girls

Clara De Hirsch Home for Working Girls

The Clara de Hirsch Home for Working Girls was established in May 1897 to provide housing, occupational training, and community to mostly poor and immigrant young women in New York City.

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