Naomi Kassan Amir was a pioneer in pediatric neurology, bringing her training from the United States to what was a brand-new field in Israel. Known for her holistic approach, Amir saw children not just in terms of their disabilities but in the context of their family and their community.
One of Israel’s foremost scientists and immunologists, Professor Ruth Arnon is the incumbent of the Paul Ehrlich Chair in Immunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.
Margaret Gene Arnstein was a principal architect of the American nursing profession. Her belief that nurses should be involved in health policy and research helped transform her profession. Renowned for her work in public health, Arnstein also advanced nursing education and research.
Like many mothers of celebrities, Sadi Muriel Baron might be considered famous because of her child, rather than because of her own personal accomplishments. Baron was the mother of Dr. Richard Raskind, who became one of the most famous American male-to-female transgender personalities when he was transformed into Dr. Renée Richards in 1976. However, Baron was herself a success story. Baron was a pioneering neurologist and psychiatrist who maintained her own private practice well into the 1950s.
Rachel Sassoon Beer was the first woman to edit a national newspaper when she simultaneously owned and edited both The Observer and The Sunday Times in England in the 1890s.
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.
Therese Benedek was among the pioneers of psychoanalysis, first in Germany and then in the United States. She developed expertise in psychosomatic medicine, sexual dysfunction, and family dynamics, but she is best known for her work on the psychosexual development of women.
A courageous, motivated pioneer in medicine, in the late 1800s Fanny Berlin became one of the first Jewish women to practice surgery in the United States and the respected chief surgeon of a major hospital.
Miriam Bernstein-Cohen, actor, director, poet and translator, was born in Kishinev in 1895.
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.
For more than four decades geneticist Batsheva Bonne-Tamir has studied genetic markers and diseases among different population groups in Israel.
A dentist by career, Anna Pavitt Boudin is remembered for her prominent role in the American’s Women ORT. While maintaining her own private dental practice, Boudin became the founding president of Women’s American ORT, an organization that grew to be one of the largest Jewish women’s organizations in the United States.
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.
Hilde Bruch’s seminal work on eating disorders contributed significantly to understanding and treatment of the diseases in the 1970s.
German-born scientist Edith Bülbring was renowned for her work in smooth muscle physiology, which paved the way for contemporary cellular investigations. She pursued this work through a large and flourishing large research group at Oxford University, which she led for seventeen years. In 1958 she was elected to the Royal Society.
Shulamith Cantor not only directed the Hadassah School of Nursing in Jerusalem (later the Henrietta Szold Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Nursing), but was a leader and founder of the nursing profession in Palestine during the Mandate for Palestine given to Great Britain by the League of Nations in April 1920 to administer Palestine and establish a national home for the Jewish people. It was terminated with the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948.British Mandate Period (1920–1948) and the first years of statehood.
Called a midwife and a “doctoress,” Elizabeth D.A. Cohen fought for the respect of her colleagues. She was the first woman doctor recognized by the state of Louisiana and battled to save patients from two epidemics of yellow fever.
While Jews have traditionally placed a great deal of emphasis on education and learning, in the past they reserved the privilege of education primarily for their sons. Religious and cultural ideals assigning women’s place to the home and family combined with societal sexism and antisemitism to make the course charted by Jewish women in pursuit of a college education rocky and in many cases inaccessible. In the last two decades of the twentieth century, Jewish women in America achieved parity with their male counterparts on college campuses, but only after many decades of struggle. Indeed, the obstacles facing all American women who sought to enroll in college institutions in the decades surrounding the turn of the last century proved numerous, imposing, and at times, defeating. For Jewish women, antisemitism posed an added challenge that they had to conquer in order to receive the college education they sought.
Claribel Cone was well known in her time for being a dignified and highly independent woman with two passions: medical research and collecting art and artifacts. She is immortalized in drawings by French modernists Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse and in Gertrude Stein’s essay “Two Women.”
Ophthalmologist Ray Karchmer Daily fought for equality and accessibility for women and children in Texas. The first Jewish woman to graduate from a Texas medical school, Daily advocated for equal treatment of female medical students and promoted equitable policies for low-income and disabled students in the Texas school system.
Frances Allen de Ford chose the nontraditional route for women of medical school and medical practice to continue her paternal family’s tradition of philanthropy. As a physician, de Ford pioneered hygiene measures in the Kensington section of northeast Philadelphia, a heavy industrial and malaria-ridden district.
A leader in the field of public health nursing, Naomi Deutsch spearheaded health and sanitation campaigns in the United States, Central America, and the Caribbean. In running settlement houses, teaching, and eventually developing and implementing policy at the federal level, Deutsch dedicated her career to serving others through public health.
In the medieval period, Jewish women doctors were found in most of the countries of western and central Europe, i.e., Spain, France, Provence, Italy, Sicily, and especially in Germany. Slawa of Warsaw (1435) is the only one who has so far been found from eastern Europe, but others will probably come to light when the records are examined more thoroughly. Evidence of women doctors in Egypt and Turkey comes from the beginning (ninth to twelfth centuries) of this period and from its end (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), although evidence for women healers is scattered throughout the sources.