The 1970s were a conceptual and political period in Israeli art. Art during these years expressed the plural form—of the nation, the society and of modern art.
Until the 1970s women were always a minority among Israeli artists and most of them either followed the men or worked outside the leading artistic movements. Although the early twentieth-century Yishuv (the Jewish settlement in Palestine) was a pioneering society with egalitarian ideals, it was (like every society in the world) ultimately led and directed by men, and so too were the various artistic groups.
Although modern Austrian art attracted a high proportion of Jewish women, most of them are forgotten today both because of the male ethos of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century life which relegated women to the domestic domain, and because of the Holocaust which robbed many Jewish women artists of their lives and erased their artistic achievements from popular recognition.
Dutch-born Sarah Bavly was a pioneer nutritionist in the Yishuv who laid the groundwork for Israel's nutritional infrastructure and educational programming, directing Hadassah's hospital nutrition departments and school lunch programs, and establishing the State's first College of Nutrition.
For three decades Judy Chicago has melded politics with art through painting, sculpture, writing, and teaching.
Hannah Chizhik was an advocate for women’s emancipation and she was committed to the women workers movement. She became an expert in vegetable farming, agricultural work, and domestic labor for the groups of women pioneers. In 1926 she established a women’s smallholding in Tel Aviv, which became an important center for pioneer youth.
“A stage set is like a painting that comes to life, becoming three-dimensional. Like a moving sculpture!” (Ruth Dar in Hotem, December 29, 1978). “I call this profession ‘painter’ and not set designer. I paint with space and costumes, and in my eyes there is no real difference between the two because the costumes are part of the concept of the space … Since I’m a minimalist, there is nothing extraneous on stage. Every little object that is there has a reason, and it has to have a place in the whole. I prefer to telegraph a spatial concept. For this reason, I have never done a set of a room with four walls and a few chairs” (Ha-Ir, June 12, 1997).
More than half a century after the death of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, researchers from many countries and from diverse disciplines began to express a new interest in her, focusing respectively on her paintings, furniture and stage designs, and her teaching in Theresienstadt (Terezin), a ghetto established by the Germans in Czechoslovakia.
In her 1938 self-portrait, Stella Drabkin depicts herself with extraordinarily large eyes, widened to take in the world. Some thirty years later, in a haiku to accompany the multitype Birds of Prey, she wrote, “The eye of the eagle sees what you do not … aware as the artist.” The application of the artist’s eye was the constant in Stella Drabkin’s varied undertakings as painter, printmaker, mosaicist, and author.
Dulcea of Worms came from the elite leadership class of medieval German Jewry. She was the daughter of a cantor and the wife of a major rabbinic figure, Rabbi Eleazar ben Judah of Worms (1165–1230), also known as the Roke’ah (the Perfumer), after the title of one of his most famous works (Sefer ha-Roke’ah). Dulcea and her husband were members of a small pietistic circle of Jews, the Hasidei Ashkenaz, that developed following the devastations of the First Crusade of 1096. The documents of this movement include many mystical works, as well as a volume reflecting their ethical concerns, Sefer Hasidim (The Book of the Pious), an important historical source for everyday Jewish life in medieval Ashkenaz. R. Eleazar ben Judah may have written some of the passages in Sefer Hasidim, and could have been its editor.
The dictionary definition of entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” Following this definition to its logical conclusion, every pre-modern woman who managed a household was an entrepreneur since the household, at least until the seventeenth—in some places until the eighteenth—century, was an economic enterprise. For the purposes of this article, however, we have limited this broad definition of entrepreneurship, concentrating on women who specialized in commerce, selling what they themselves produced or what others produced and, in later centuries, women who were actively involved in the money economy.
The Ethiopian Jews, men and women alike, were known as Falashas in Ethiopia, although in the last decade they have eschewed this appellation with its stigmatic connotation of “stranger”, implying low, outsider status. In Israel, they tend to be called Ethiopian Jews, whilst in Ethiopia they often referred to themselves—and are referred to in the academic literature—as Beta Israel (Weil, 1997a). The Beta Israel hail from villages in Gondar province, Woggera, the Simien mountains, Walkait and the Shire region of Tigray. They are divided into two distinct linguistic entities speaking Amharic and Tigrinya respectively.
One of the founders of the Pattern and Decoration movement in America in the 1970s, Joyce Kozloff is an internationally recognized painter, public muralist and feminist whose long-term passions have been history, culture and the decorative and popular arts.
Bouena Sarfatty Garfinkle, a Sephardi woman, risked her life over and over again to aid to her community during World War II. At a later stage in her life, Bouena’s historical-literary acumen enabled her to record Jewish life in Salonika during the twentieth century, including the devastation to her community at the hands of the Nazis.
Bertha Schaefer broadened the definition of interior decorator to designer, innovator, and pioneer in integrating fine arts and architecture with interior design. Schaefer’s two New York City businesses – an interior design firm and an art gallery – showcased defining features of the postwar period, garnering her significant praise and attention in the world of art and design.
Feisty and opinionated, Sylvia Sidney was quite the opposite of the waiflike victim of social oppression she played in Hollywood’s Depression Era films. While she disliked playing the victim, her vulnerability and working-class persona resonated with audiences. She earned an Oscar nomination for her performance in Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams, took on a comic role as the caseworker in Beetlejuice, and played a sympathetic grandmother in one of the first TV movies about AIDS, An Early Frost.
As a child in Galicia, her father ensured that Sarah Thon would receive a good education despite the family's poverty. As an adult in Palestine, she established a network of lace-making schools around the country to provide a source of livelihood to hundreds of girls from destitute families.