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.
Miriam Ostrovsky Baratz, a founder of Kevuzat Deganyah Aleph and one of the first two women members of the Haderah commune, was a member of the founding generation who exemplified the attempt to change the conventional norms of Jewish society, Yishuv society and workers’ groups.
Asnat Barazani was the daughter of the eminent Rabbi Shmuel b. Netanel Ha-Levi of Kurdistan (1560?–1625/1635?). Her father, a scholar and mystic with a large following, aimed to rectify the plight of his brethren, namely, the dearth of educated leaders. He built a yeshiva in Mosul where he hoped to train young men who would become community leaders and scholars. Since he had no sons, he trained his daughter to be a learned scholar of the highest order.
Born Cilly Edelberg in Latvia in 1899, the dancer who called herself Tatjana Barbakoff lacked formal dance training, yet created a world of her own through her charming personality, exotic stage costumes and lyrical dance expression.
Under her simple stage name “Barbara,” Monique Andrée Serf (b. Paris June 9, 1930, d. Neuilly-sur-Seine November 24–25, 1997) was an immensely popular French singer and composer in the cabaret style.
Lizzie Spiegel Barbe represents the “Jewish Clubwomen” of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century. Like other “Jewish clubwomen” of this era, Barbe was motivated to establish leadership roles for women within the organized Jewish community such as had previously not existed. All of Barbe’s communal work focused on the Jewish sphere, and she is remembered for her lifelong commitment to the Chicago Jewish community.
Known to her contemporaries as the “Lady Angel of the Tenement District,” Clarice Baright was a social worker and a trailblazing attorney who combined these skills as an advocate for the rights of New York City’s children and its poor. In a career spanning the first half of the twentieth century, Baright fought for reforms in the style and spirit of the Progressive Era, while earning the distinctions of serving as the second female magistrate in New York City history and of being among the first few women admitted to the American Bar Association.
Hannah Trager, writer and communal activist, was born in London to Zerah (1843–1935) and Rachel Lea Barnett (1842–1924).
Devorah Baron, who is considered to be the first female to write in Modern Hebrew, was born on December 4, 1887, in the small town of Uzda (50 km SSW of Minsk), where her father served as a rabbi. While a number of women had overcome the odds and written in Hebrew before her, Devorah Baron was the first woman to make a career for herself as a Hebrew writer.
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.
An “out-liar,” as she called herself, Barr was an activist in multiple worlds: breast cancer, feminism, Judaism, education and the Israeli peace movement.
Even as a schoolgirl, Jennie Loitman Barron ignored society’s limits and set high goals for herself. In her long career as a lawyer and a judge, and in her lifelong work for women’s rights, she set many precedents for women in Massachusetts and across the United States.
During one of the most intense periods of conflict over international trade in American history, Charlene Barshefsky rose to prominence as arguably the nation’s chief advocate of free trade. The Cabinet-level United States Trade Representative from 1997 to 2001, Barshefsky played a crucial role in forging a new era of economic globalization under the leadership of President Bill Clinton.
The forty-two-year-old assistant city solicitor of Wilmington, Delaware, was the first Republican woman appointed to a legal post and, with Sybil Ward, one of the first two women lawyers regularly admitted to practice in Delaware.
Singing her way through popular standards and performing imitations of Sophie Tucker, Al Jolson, Harry Richman, and Gypsy Rose Lee kept Barth employed on the vaudeville circuit through the 1930s and 1940s. The character of her act changed in the 1950s, when she began to mix her two talents—music and comedy—and added a splash of “red hot mama” for good measure.
Baruch’s foremost concern, expressed through a wide range of professional activities as an educator, author, psychologist, and community leader, was the healthy emotional development of the young child with the full understanding that physical, intellectual, and emotional development are all interrelated.
Sarah bas Tovim (Sore bas toyvim), daughter of Mordecai (or daughter of Isaac or Jacob, as sometimes listed on the title pages of various editions of her works), of Satanov in Podolia, in present-day Ukraine, great-granddaughter of Rabbi Mordecai of Brisk (on this, all editions agree), became the emblematic tkhine [q.v.] author, and one of her works, Shloyshe sheorim, perhaps the most beloved of all tkhines.
To encourage her fellow prisoners in the Kaiserwald concentration camp, the young Rivka Basman Ben-Hayim recited a poem of her own composition to them every day for two years. After her arrival in Israel in 1947, she went on to publish nine books of Yiddish poetry, lyrical pieces which hint at the pain of the Holocaust yet are full of calm and comfort: the calm to be found within the natural world, the comfort to be found within friendship and love.
Matilde Bassani Finzi continued her activity in anti-fascist groups and, together with Giorgio Bassani, organized parlor meetings and helped distribute newspapers and newsletters. After Mussolini’s fall on July 25, 1943, Bassani Finzi was released together with all the political prisoners. Immediately upon her release she contacted the Resistance groups, who began to organize in case Germany should invade Italy, which it did on September 8, 1943. After the war she continued to work for the ideals in which she believed: freedom, democracy and equality for women.
Winner of several Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress awards from the Israel Institute of Cinema, the multi-talented Michal Bat Adam was the first Israeli woman to direct a feature film.
Ora Bat Chaim, who began a new phase of life as a serious composer at the age of fifty-eight, went on to create over four hundred musical compositions.
Upon her arrival in Palestine in 1923, nineteen-year-old Mita Gutgeld tried her hand at house plastering, tractor driving—and writing plays. As Shulamith Bat Dori, she pioneered the kibbutz theater and staged major theatrical performances which, at the beginning of the 1950s, were attended by ten percent of the country’s population.
The bat mitzvah ritual was introduced into American Judaism as both an ethical and a pragmatic response to gender divisions in traditional Judaism.
“The distance that lies/between you and me/I’ll cross completely/and come before you./All of its blueness/I’ll conquer/and like a breath, swallow it,/and come/to tell you something./What shall I say?” These are the opening lines of one of Yokheved Bat-Miriam’s earliest poetry cycles, Me-Rahok (From Afar), a work that differs in form from much of her later poetry but nevertheless presages many of its themes and motifs.
Bathsheba, the wife of David (reigned c. 1005–965 b.c.e.) and the mother of Solomon (reigned c. 968–928 b.c.e.), is featured in each of these roles in one major narrative sequence in the David stories, and she is characterized quite differently in each.
Bathsheba is portrayed by the midrash as a modest woman who carefully observed the laws of family purity, but who found herself, without any conscious action on her part, in an adulterous affair with the king.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Encyclopedia." (Viewed on February 18, 2018) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia>.