Politics and Government: Law
Justice Rosalie Abella's life has been a series of “firsts”: She was Canada's first Jewish woman judge and the country’s youngest ever. She was the first woman chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board and the first woman in the British Commonwealth to become the head of a Law Reform Commission. In August 2004, she was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, becoming the first Jewish woman to sit on the Canadian Supreme Court bench.
The chief biblical source referring to abortion is Exodus 21:22–25 concerning the man who inadvertently strikes a pregnant woman, causing her to lose the pregnancy.
Born in the Bronx on July 24, 1920, Bella (Savitzky) Abzug predated women’s right to vote by one month. A tireless and indomitable fighter for justice and peace, equal rights, human dignity, environmental integrity and sustainable development, Bella Abzug advanced human goals and political alliances worldwide.
Passionate, principled, provocative, and above all path breaking, Shulamit Aloni has left a greater imprint on Israeli political life and public discourse than any woman to come of age after Israel’s independence.
Birdie Amsterdam was the first woman elected to the New York State Supreme Court. Justice Saul Streit, chair of the Board of Justices, described the fifty-six-year-old judge as the “first lady of our judiciary” when he administered the oath to her on January 6, 1957.
A justice on Israel’s Supreme Court since May 2004, Edna Arbel was born in Jerusalem on June 22, 1944.
The decisions of Judge Barak-Ussoskin, who is known for her extraordinary patience and excellent judicial spirit, are outstanding for their innovative character, thoroughness, well-argued and scholarly reasoning based on national as well as international and theoretical experience, and for the stress they lay on human rights in the sphere of labor and employment. Her rulings undoubtedly have a critical influence on the development of labor law and labor relations in Israel.
Known to her contemporaries as the “Lady Angel of the Tenement District,” Clarice Baright was a social worker and a trailblazing attorney who combined these skills as an advocate for the rights of New York City’s children and its poor. In a career spanning the first half of the twentieth century, Baright fought for reforms in the style and spirit of the Progressive Era, while earning the distinctions of serving as the second female magistrate in New York City history and of being among the first few women admitted to the American Bar Association.
An “out-liar,” as she called herself, Barr was an activist in multiple worlds: breast cancer, feminism, Judaism, education and the Israeli peace movement.
Even as a schoolgirl, Jennie Loitman Barron ignored society’s limits and set high goals for herself. In her long career as a lawyer and a judge, and in her lifelong work for women’s rights, she set many precedents for women in Massachusetts and across the United States.
During one of the most intense periods of conflict over international trade in American history, Charlene Barshefsky rose to prominence as arguably the nation’s chief advocate of free trade. The Cabinet-level United States Trade Representative from 1997 to 2001, Barshefsky played a crucial role in forging a new era of economic globalization under the leadership of President Bill Clinton.
One of the first two women allowed to pass the bar in Delaware, Evangelyn Barsky made a great impact on her community in her brief career.
Israel Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinisch has based many of her decisions, including those regarding parental corporal punishment, sexual harassment, and military reform, on her commitment to upholding Israel's basic laws on human dignity and liberty.
Ruth Ben Israel, an expert in labor law, social equality, social security and the status of women, received the Israel Prize for legal research in 2001, becoming the third member of her family to win this distinguished award, alongside her brother, Professor Yuval Ne’eman (b. 1925, Israel Prize 1969) and her cousin, Professor Hayyim Harari (b. 1940, Israel Prize 1989).
Born in Brzezin, Poland, on May 16, 1926, Hadassa Ben-Itto was the daughter of David Lipmanowicz (1904–1994), a building contractor, and Dvora (née Broder, 1906–1988), a homemaker, both of whom had also been born in Brzezin. Her father received a Jewish education at heder and yeshiva, while her mother had attended elementary school. They married in 1924 and immigrated to Palestine in 1935, where a second daughter, Nira (Kfir), was born in 1937.
The first woman to be appointed a Justice in Israel’s Supreme Court, Miriam Ben-Porat was born on April 26, 1918, in Vitebsk (Belorussia).
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.
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.
Rebecca Thurman Bernstein was lauded by local and national organizations for her efforts to improve health care, literacy, and Jewish life in Portland, Maine. Bernstein was proud of her Jewish heritage and worked for many Jewish causes, but her interests were not limited to or by her Jewishness.
The dedicated commitment of great numbers of American Jewish women to their country’s long and controversial crusade to legalize birth control had its origins in 1912, when the movement’s formidable pioneer Margaret Sanger—baptized a Catholic, and married to a Jew, but by then calling herself a socialist—was working part-time as a visiting nurse in the immigrant districts of New York City’s Lower East Side.
Jeanette Goodman Brill was Brooklyn’s first woman magistrate and the second woman magistrate appointed in New York City.
As a lawyer and activist, Emilie M. Bullowa devoted her life to justice for the disenfranchised. Her colleagues, as well as many judges, respected her attitude as a woman in a field then dominated by men: She took pride in being a lawyer, rather than in being a female lawyer.
As a lawyer, Helen Lehman Buttenwieser fought to protect children in the foster care system. Throughout her life in the law she served as an important role model for many women attorneys.
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.