The Encyclopedia features over 1,700 biographies, 300 thematic essays, and 1,400 photographs and illustrations on a wide range of Jewish women through the centuries -- from Gertrude Berg to Gertrude Stein; Hannah Greenebaum Solomon to Hannah Arendt; the Biblical Ruth to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Accounts of the immigrant experience, of feminist and/or activist involvement, of the changing role of women in Jewish and American life, as well as literary and political autobiographies, Holocaust survival narratives, and coming-of-age memoirs are all categories of autobiography to which American Jewish women have contributed copiously.
Sophie Cahn Axman was an articulate and opinionated Progressive reformer, a member of the Jewish elite with an uncompromising drive to improve her people.
Hertha Ayrton, born Phoebe Sarah Marks, was a distinguished British woman scientist, who, in 1902, was the first woman to be proposed for the fellowship of the Royal Society.
A teacher and women’s activist, Azaryahu was born in Dinaburg (Dvinsk, Daugavpils), Latvia, into a traditional-modern family.
Before the outbreak of World War I, over a dozen B’nai B’rith women’s auxiliaries were scattered from San Francisco to New Jersey. They expanded into cultural activities, philanthropy, and community service, such as financial support of orphanages and homes for the elderly. Their announced aims were to perpetuate Jewish culture, enrich their communities, and ensure the religious survival of their sons and daughters. Their unannounced goals included sociability and the first steps toward personal independence.
A halakhic work composed in 1180 that deals with the laws of behavior during menstruation (niddah), Ba’alei ha-Nefesh (Masters of the Soul) was written by Rabbi Abraham ben David of Posquières (the Rabad, c. 1125–1198), who was also known as ba’al ha-hassagot (critic par excellence).
The Ba’alot Teshuvahs’ decision to explore Orthodox Jewish ways of life represents one possible solution to current widespread questions about women’s proper roles. The structural changes in American society in the past thirty years, in particular the changing demographics of women’s educational, occupational, marital, and childbearing patterns, have occasioned a debate in our culture about women’s nature and social roles similar to the late nineteenth-century “woman question” that followed the Industrial Revolution.
Babatha daughter of Shim’on, a Jewish landowner who lived in Roman Arabia, owned a document archive found in a cave in the Judaean desert. Babatha’s archive is an extremely important resource for many issues, especially on the question of Jewish women’s legal position in Greco-Roman Palestine.
Lauren Bacall’s 1944 Hollywood debut in To Have and Have Not catapulted this young Jewish actress into instant stardom. Costarring with her husband-to-be, Humphrey Bogart, Bacall soon became known for “The Look”—downturned head, eyes looking up, suggestive of a young woman sexually wise beyond her years. She and Bogart were one of Hollywood’s most famous couples, both on screen and off, and Bacall was famous for her characterizations of women whose strong will complemented, rather than detracted from, their sexual attraction.
A feminist philosopher and writer, Elisabeth Badinter has been among the foremost and most controversial French intellectuals of her generation.
The life of writer Bertha Badt-Strauss spanned two centuries and two continents. Born in Breslau, Germany, in 1885, the religious Badt-Strauss, who promoted a return to Judaism as well as the cultural Zionist "Jewish Renaissance," lived the last thirty years of her life in the southern United States.
Although Baerwald was born into a privileged, upper-class family, her wealth did not isolate her with respect to social class. She was deeply interested in the social structure of New York City, and recognized her ability to contribute to the lives of others less fortunate than herself. She considered volunteer work a social obligation, and poured her time and tireless energy into numerous projects.
The “Baghdadis,” referring to Jews coming mainly from Baghdad, Basra and Aleppo, but also from other Arabic speaking parts of the Ottoman Empire, arrived in India in the late eighteenth century and ultimately formed important diaspora trading communities in Bombay and Calcutta.
Founded by Sarah Schenirer as a way of combating assimilation among her contemporaries, Bais Ya’akov is an Orthodox Jewish educational movement for girls and young women that began in Cracow, Poland in 1917 and spread rapidly throughout much of the Ashkenazic Jewish world.
Artist Eugenie Baizerman rarely exhibited her work and never sold a painting during her lifetime. According to her husband, sculptor Saul Baizerman, although she sought a quiet life to focus on her work, she nevertheless experienced an inner turmoil that manifested itself in the free, expressionistic colors of her canvases.
Belle Baker has been described as a famed torch singer and vaudeville star, as well as a Yiddish, Broadway, and motion picture actor.
Angelica Balabanoff was one of the best-known and widely beloved figures of European socialism in the early decades of the twentieth century.
Born in Romania to Hungarian parents, Zsófia Balla has lived in Hungary since 1993. While in the land of her birth her work was often subject to censorship, she is considered one of her adopted nation's greatest women poets.
“Astrith Baltsan is an incomparable phenomenon on the musical scene in Israel,” wrote the judges who awarded her the Tel Aviv Municipality 2001 Rosenblum Prize for the Stage Arts. Her original lecture-concert series—multimedia events—became the largest classical chamber music series in Israel, attracting thousands of individuals to attend their first non-symphonic concerts.
Described as a stiff Victorian woman from an old Boston Jewish family, Golde Bamber applied her education and cultured upbringing to become one of Boston’s pioneer social reformers and educators among the city’s Eastern European immigrants.
Educational administrator, professor, and author, Florence Bamberger devoted her life and career to developing and implementing her progressive views on teaching, teacher education, and scientific educational supervision. Her commitment to supervisory models of pedagogy continues to influence schools of education today.
Long before Mae West, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlowe, and Madonna vamped their way across the silver screen, there was Theda Bara—the original celluloid “vamp.”
The term niddah is used in Jewish tradition in relation to menstruation. It implies “a menstruating woman,” “menstruation,” “menstrual blood,” “bleeding period,” “menstrual impurity,” “laws related to menstruation,” etc. The root of the term is ndd or ndh, which means wandering or exclusion, related most certainly to the exclusion of the menstruant from ordinary social activities.
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.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Encyclopedia." (Viewed on June 22, 2018) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia>.