Helen Goldmark Adler is remembered for her philanthropic achievements and her marriage to Felix Adler, philosopher and founder of the Ethical Culture Movement. In turn-of-the-century New York, Adler penned articles, established a free kindergarten for children with working-class parents, and founded an organization focused on the science of child-rearing.
Agudat Israel, the world movement of Orthodox Jewry, introduced substantial reforms that changed the status of women in Orthodox society. In particular, the Bais Ya’akov model pioneered by Sarah Schenirer focused on women’s education as a way of creating a more robust Orthodox community against the pressures of modernity.
Mildred Albert charmed the fashion world as an international fashion consultant, lecturer, columnist, and radio and television personality. She carved a niche for herself in the fashion world as the head of a modeling agency and an inventor of new kinds of fashion shows.
Founded in 1860 by six French Jewish intellectuals, the Alliance Israélite Universelle set out to teach Jewish children at schools all over the world. The diverse group of teachers in the Alliance carried out the organization’s mission, but its women teachers were particularly impactful in criticizing the leaders’ patronizing attitudes and pushing for female empowerment.
Sadie Annenberg's husband Moe made the couple millionaires by pawning Sadie’s jewelry and starting several businesses. Sadie Annenberg used that money to generously support numerous Jewish causes in both the United States and the State of Israel, including those in the arts, politics, science, and more.
Raised as a kibbutznik and taught that music was frivolous, Chaya Arbel only began pursuing a musical career in her forties, but she went on to become one of Israel’s great modern composers. She was active in music education for several decades and gained general recognition as a composer in her seventies.
Over the course of the twentieth century, Jewish educational opportunities expanded for girls and teaching as an occupation became a possibility for Jewish women in Argentina. The 1920s saw the first female teachers in Jewish schools, and by the end of the 1950s, seventy percent of teachers were locally-trained women.
Jewish women participated in the artistic life of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union for over a hundred years. Jewish women artists worked in all styles, from the routine academic to the extreme avant-garde. There were also well-known art patrons, gallery owners, art historians, and art critics.
Bais Yaakov is a network of schools and youth movements for Orthodox girls, which was founded in Krakow, Poland, in 1917 and grew into a system of hundreds of schools in Poland and beyond. It quickly rebuilt after the Holocaust and thrives today in Orthodox communities around the world.
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.
Asnat Barazani was a highly educated and respected Torah scholar in late 16th and early 17th century Kurdistan. After her father’s death, he passed leadership of his Yeshiva in Mosul to Asnat’s husband, but she essentially ran it, taking rabbinic students under her supervision.
Psychologist Dorothy Walter Baruch championed the health development of children as an educator, author, psychologist, and as a community leader. Her psychodynamic approach to child development focused on the relationship between physical, emotional, and intellectual development and on rechanneling children’s feelings through play and art therapy.
A feminist before her time, Adele Bildersee was an advocate for women in education. She graduated with the first class of the then all-women’s Hunter College in 1903 and went on to help found Brooklyn College, serving as both its dean of students and its director of admissions.
Since being allowed to resettle in 1656, Jews in Great Britain have established deep community ties throughout their diverse community. Class differences between early Sephardic settlers and the later wave of Ashkenazi immigrants gave rise to numerous Jewish charitable organizations, in which women played a key role.
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.
As director of the Hadassah School of Nursing in Jerusalem, Shulamith Cantor helped set the standard for nursing in Palestine.
Women’s vocal leadership in synagogue music began with zogerin (women prayer leaders) in the women’s gallery. In the nineteenth century, women began participating in mixed choral and community singing, and some opera singers acted as cantors in important Reform congregations. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Reform and Conservative movements began formally investing women as cantors, and today a plurality of cantors in liberal movements are women.
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.