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Beba Idelson

A staunch Zionist and one of the first Knesset members, Beba Trachtenberg Idelson was a champion of religious freedom and women’s rights in the new State of Israel. In 1916, Idelson joined a self-defense group in Ukraine run by the Zionist youth group Ze’iri Zion to protect herself from violent anti-Semitism, and in 1917 she married Israel Idelson, Ze’iri Zion’s leader. Although the couple was exiled to Siberia in 1923, the sentence was commuted to exile in Palestine. On their arrival in 1926, Beba worked odd jobs to pay the bills, then became politically active, serving as secretary of the Council of Working Women from 1931–1974, helping found the Organization of Working Women and becoming involved with the Council of Women’s Organizations. She represented the Mapai (Workers) Party as a delegate to the Zionist Congress four times between 1935 and 1946, became a member of the provisional government in 1948, and was elected to the Knesset for the Mapai Party in 1949. As a member of the Knesset’s committees for law and justice, foreign affairs, labor, and crafting a constitution, she created protections for women workers, fought the religious monopoly on marriage and divorce, and tried to define women’s equality in terms of universal human rights. She retired from the Knesset in 1965.


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Beba Idelson, a leader in the women's labor organization Mo'ezet Ha-Po'alot and one of the first Knesset members, as photographed by Theodore Brauner in 1951. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Beba Idelson." (Viewed on December 2, 2020) <https://jwa.org/people/idelson-beba>.


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