Ellen Bender was born in New York in 1960. She attended Wesleyan University, where she met her husband, David Bender, and they graduated in 1982. Bender graduated cum laude from Fordham Law School and was editor of The Law Review. She clerked for Judge Lee P. Gagliardi, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York. She is an activist and co-founder of Markers for Democracy, a not-for-profit organization that promotes voter outreach and fundraising for democratic causes and candidates.
Ellen talks about her childhood in New York, being the first bat mitzvah at her synagogue, and how her mother’s feminism inspired her own. She discusses the changing gender roles in Jewish life and how her feminism shaped her religious practice and worldview. Bender cites the work of Yitz and Blu Greenberg and her involvement in Ma’yan in New York as particularly influential and empowering. She reflects on the significant accomplishments of Jewish feminism, the impact of female leadership in Judaism, the advances made, and the progress yet to be obtained. Finally, Ellen outlines her vision for the future of gender equality in Judaism and Jewish life.
How to cite this page
Oral History of Ellen Bender. Interviewed by Jayne Guberman. 8 February 2015. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on November 28, 2023) <https://jwa.org/oralhistories/bender-ellen>.
Oral History of Ellen Bender by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.