Sherry Gorelick

b. 1939

Sherry Gorelick was born in 1939 in the Bronx, New York.  Sherry's mother was an Orthodox Jew, while her father was an atheist.  She went to a shule where she had a basic education in Yiddish, but most of her Jewish upbringing was in the home and was primarily focused on tradition.  She attended Queens College and went on to Cornell University for a Master's so that she could teach college.  After her formal education, she began questioning and challenging her perspective on Israel.  She began her involvement with activist organizations and demonstrations, such as the Jewish Women's Committee to End the Occupation.  She also attended meetings of the Israeli/Palestinian women's peace movement and at the historic Women's International Conference for Israeli/Palestinian Peace in Geneva, Switzerland, in May 1991.  Sherry was actively involved in the Women in Black movement throughout her life.  She then went on to teach at Rutgers University, primarily about Race, Class, and Gender. 

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Scope and Content Note

Sherry begins the interview by discussing her upbringing. Her mother was Orthodox Jewish.  Her father was an atheist, so she learned about Judaism from the traditions on her mother's side.  As a child, Sherry grew up always "assuming the goodness of Israel" and never questioned it much.  After earning her bachelor’s degree at Queens College and her Master's at Cornell University, Sherry began to feel discomfort at Israel's invasion of Lebanon and treatment of Palestinians; she related to their refugee status, especially in the wake of the Holocaust just a few decades earlier.  Sherry discusses her participation in the organization Jews Against the Israeli Massacre in Lebanon, which was her first introduction to Jewish activism and criticism of Israel.  She was also active in the Jewish Women's Committee to End the Occupation and Women in Black.  Sherry found herself at the intersection of Jewish activism and feminism, eventually attending the historic 1991 Women's International Conference for Israel-Palestine Peace in Geneva, Switzerland.  Sherry describes how their work at the 1991 Conference had an important effect on those in attendance, which would help spread the effect and the conversation surrounding peace in Israel-Palestine.  She talks about the Gay and Lesbian Movement in Israel during the late 1980s/early 1990s and about her experience as a closeted lesbian while teaching college students.  Sherry was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and elaborates on her belief that accessibility is critical when organizing demonstrations.  Finally, she reflects on the work she and others must do to progress on issues such as homophobia and ableism.  

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Sherry Gorelick. Interviewed by Jayne Guberman . 30 October 2005. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 26, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/gorelick-sherry>.

Oral History of Sherry Gorelick 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.