Religion: Synagogues/Temples

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Paula Ackerman

Paula Ackerman

At the turn of the twentieth century, a young girl from Pensacola, Florida, named Paula Herskovitz dreamed of one day becoming a medical doctor. Believing that the medical profession was unsuitable for women, her father insisted that she abandon her dream. Yet decades later, she embarked upon a career he no doubt would have found equally unsuitable: she became a spiritual leader.

Architects in Palestine: 1920-1948

The mass-immigration from Europe after 1933 brought many architects, amongst whom were a number of women.

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.

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.

Barr Family, 2000

Patricia Barr

An “out-liar,” as she called herself, Barr was an activist in multiple worlds: breast cancer, feminism, Judaism, education and the Israeli peace movement.

Annual Bat Mitzvah in Jamaica

Bat Mitzvah: American Jewish Women

The bat mitzvah ritual was introduced into American Judaism as both an ethical and a pragmatic response to gender divisions in traditional Judaism.

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.

Colonial Entrepreneurs: A Quartet of Jewish Women

Esther Pinheiro, Esther Brown, Rachel Luis, and Simja De Torres were widows, each held property, each was at one time or another a merchant. Although all lived in New York City for a time, none were born there. Pinheiro died on the Island of Nevis, and the other three in New York. All four have been overlooked by history. They have been included here because written records survive documenting their activities.

Conservative Judaism in the United States

Women have played a pivotal role in Conservative Judaism throughout the twentieth century and have been instrumental on both the grass-roots and national levels in propelling the Conservative Movement to confront essential issues including Jewish education, gender equality and religious leadership. The Conservative Movement’s attention over the decades to issues such as the religious education of Jewish girls, the status of the ]agunah (deserted wife), equal participation of women in ritual and the ordination of women has helped to shape the self-definition of Conservative Judaism and its maturation as a distinct denomination.

Elephantine

On the island of Elephantine, opposite Aswan and just below the first cataract in Egypt, several hundred Aramaic papyri and ostraca were discovered between 1893 and 1910. Typically, some of the best finds were made on the antiquities market, and two archives of Jewish families from the fifth century b.c.e. were acquired by purchase. One was bought in 1897 by the American Egyptologist, Charles Edwin Wilbour (1833–1896), but was not published until 1953 by Emil Gottlieb Heinrich Kraeling; the other was acquired in 1904 by Sir Robert Ludwig Mond (1867–1938) and Lady William Cecil (Georgina Sophia Pakenham, 1827–1909) and by the Bodleian Library in Oxford and was published shortly thereafter (1906) by Archibald Henry Sayce (1845–1933) and Arthur Ernest Cowley (1861–1931). The Wilbour papyri, now in the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, contain the family archive of the Temple official Ananiah son of Azariah, covering a period of fifty years, namely, two generations (451–402 b.c.e.). The Mond-Cecil papyri are in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and together with the Bodleian papyrus constitute the archive of the woman Mibtahiah daughter of Mahseiah, spanning over sixty years and covering three generations (471–410 b.c.e.).

Genizah

The world of Jewish women in the Islamic middle ages is revealed to us through a treasure trove of primary source material found in Cairo at the end of the nineteenth century. A genizah is a storage room for discarded books and written materials. Jews do not destroy anything with God’s name written on it; such pieces of parchment and paper are usually buried. In medieval Cairo, this custom was extended to anything written in Hebrew, but instead of being buried, such items were stored in a genizah in the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fostat (Old Cairo), where most of the Jews lived; the arid conditions preserved them.

German Immigrant Period in the United States

The period 1820–1880 has generally been considered the era of German Jewish immigration to the United States. Issues of gender and family shaped this migration from the Germanic regions, and from other parts of Central and Eastern Europe from 1820 to 1880.

Richea Gratz

In 1787, at the age of thirteen, Richea Gratz became the first Jewish woman to attend college in America when she matriculated with the first class at Franklin College (later Franklin and Marshall College of Lancaster, Pennsylvania).

Florence Guggenheim, 1916

Florence Shloss Guggenheim

Florence Shloss Guggenheim was born on September 3, 1863, in Philadelphia, the daughter of Lazarus and Barbara (Kahnweiler) Shloss. She married Daniel Guggenheim on July 22, 1884. As part of the Guggenheim family, Daniel was on the board of directors of the American Smelting and Refining Company. The Guggenheims had two sons, Robert and Harry, and a daughter, Gladys Guggenheim, who would later marry Roger W. Straus of New York, who cofounded the publishing house Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Reina Hartmann

Reina Kate Goldstein, the daughter of Simon and Kate (Mayer) Goldstein, was born in Chicago on February 2, 1880, and lived in the Chicago area her entire life. She became an integral member of the community by devoting her life to organizations that served Chicago’s women.

Haskalah Attitudes Toward Women

For the men of intellect who burst upon Ashkenazic Jewish society in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, starting a cultural revolution of Jewish Enlightenment; European movement during the 1770sHaskalah (enlightenment), the question of women’s status was the touchstone for the validity and consolidation of their innovative worldview. One of the outstanding proponents of the Haskalah was Judah Leib Gordon (1831–1892), who expressed the ambiguity of female/sing.: Member of the Haskalah movement.maskilim toward the “woman question.” Beginning in the 1870s, women Hebrew readers in the Jewish Pale of Settlement in Russia and women students in various cities in Europe considered him one of the few people who showed special sensitivity and empathy with regard to the difficult lives of Jewish women.

Hattie Henenberg, Hortense Ward, and Ruth Brazzil in the the Texas Supreme Court, 1925

Hattie Leah Henenberg

Born on a farm in Ennis, Texas, on February 16, 1893, Hattie Henenberg was the second child of Hungarian-born Rosa (Trebitsch) and Samuel Henenberg, parents of four daughters and two sons. The family moved to nearby Dallas in 1904 to help her ailing paternal grandfather, Lazar, owner of Dallas’s oldest pawn and jewelry shop. Henenberg took night classes from 1913 to 1916 at Dallas Law School, part of Southern Methodist University. She was assistant Texas attorney general from 1929 to 1930; special assistant U.S. attorney general in Washington in 1934, and an assistant district attorney in Dallas from 1941 to 1947. In addition, Henenberg was a delegate to the 1932 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, a member of the Order of Eastern Star, Business and Professional Women’s Club, Temple Emanu-El, and Dallas president of Zonta International. The ideals of social justice that permeated her quest for legal aid to the poor reflected the principles of Judaism. Judaism also manifested itself through her decision not to marry a non-Jew and through religious observances such as not eating pork.

Gertrude Hirschler

Not prepared to compromise her ideals by accepting work that did not meet her ideological approval, Gertrude Hirschler rejected the offer of a well-recognized publisher, who submitted a book by an Israeli leftist writer to her for translation. True to her principles, she removed her name from The Hirsch Siddur that she had translated, due to changes to the finished product that did not meet her standards. A brilliant perfectionist, Hirschler’s literary contributions as a translator, editor, and writer are highly regarded in the areas of Jewish history, accounts of the Holocaust, religious literature, and Zionism.

Leah Horowitz

Sarah Rebecca Rachel Leah Horowitz, author of Tkhinne imohes (Supplication of the Matriarchs), was the daughter of Jacob Yokl ben Meir Ha-Levi Horowitz (1680–1755) and Reyzel bat Heshl. Her father was a member of the famed kloyz of Brody. Leah Horowitz (as she was known) was one of some seven children. Three of her brothers were rabbis, of whom the most eminent was Isaac (known as “Itsikl Hamburger,” 1715–1767), rabbi of Hamburg, Altona and Wandsbeck. There was also a sister, named Pessil. There is some doubt about the identity of another brother and sister. As the sister of eminent brothers, Leah disproves the old canard that the only educated women in her time were the daughters of learned rabbis who had no sons.

Gracia Nasi Family Tree

Italy, Early Modern

Jews have lived on the Italian peninsula uninterruptedly since antiquity. During the middle ages, the center of the Jewish population of Italy shifted from the south to the north. There, during the early-modern period, having been granted charters, local Jews, joined by refugees from Europe, including waves from French, German, and Iberian lands, provided valuable services as moneylenders and merchants. Although this period saw anti-Jewish agitation by churchmen and the establishment of ghettos, new governmental bodies to supervise the Jews, and local inquisitions, the fact that Italy was not unified provided the Jews with opportunities to leave one city-state to bring their services to another that offered greater promise for more tranquility, an incentive for their hosts to ensure their continued presence.

Janie Jacobson

Combining her Jewish background with her skill and penchant for writing, Janie Jacobson succeeded as a biblical playwright. The children’s plays she authored were performed nationally.

Bertha Pappenheim

Jewish Feminism in Post-Holocaust Germany

Jewish feminism in Germany today is an expression of a wide-reaching renewal of Judaism that has been going on in many European countries since the early 1990s. That women have their own movement within this development became evident at the first conference of Bet Debora in Berlin.

Trude Weiss-Rosmarin

Jewish Feminism in the United States

Challenging all varieties of American Judaism, feminism has been a powerful force for popular Jewish religious revival. Of America’s four Jewish denominations, all but the Orthodox have accepted women as rabbis and cantors.

Jewish League for Woman Suffrage

The Jewish League for Woman Suffrage (JLWS) was the only Jewish women’s organization in England—and the world—devoted exclusively to obtaining both national and Jewish suffrage for women.

Frieda Warburg, 1936

Jewish Museums in the United States

Jewish women play prominent roles as founders, directors, curators, artists, and patrons of Jewish museums in the United States. While women have rarely played an exclusive role in the creation of either small community or larger museums, their work as creators and developers of these repositories is critical.

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