A founding member of Kevuzat Deganyah Aleph, Miriam Ostrovsky Baratz forced the Yishuv to confront its sexist assumptions, first as one of the rare female agricultural laborers and then as her kibbutz’s first wife and mother. Baratz immigrated to Palestine with her family at age seventeen in 1906. As her family struggled to make ends meet, Baratz worked various jobs in Petah Tikvah, but found few jobs open to women workers. Despite this, she found work in an orchard and in 1907 helped plant the Herzl Forest in Ben Shemen. She then convinced chickpea farmers in Haderah to hire her by offering to work for free until she’d proven herself. In 1910 she helped found Deganyah and proceeded to challenge the group first with her decision to marry in 1912 and then with her choice to continue working in their dairy after giving birth in 1913. Deganyah finally decided the group would be communally responsible for tending and educating children, a choice that other groups followed and which meant Yishuv women could choose their own specialties instead of being restricted to traditionally female jobs. Baratz continued working in the dairy until age 66, and studied dairy farming techniques abroad in Holland in 1926 and America in 1936.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Miriam Baratz." (Viewed on July 6, 2020) <https://jwa.org/people/baratz-miriam>.