Ruth Messinger

As a politician, Ruth Messinger served her community, but in leading American Jewish World Service, she has found ways for her community to help repair the world. Messinger worked as a teacher, college administrator, and social worker before winning a seat on the New York City Council in 1977, winning reelection several times by large majorities. She became Manhattan borough president in 1990, using her influence to support gay rights, affordable housing, public school funding, and other vital issues. In 1997, she ran for mayor of New York (the first time a woman candidate secured the Democratic nomination for the post), but lost to incumbent Rudy Giuliani. The following year, she became the executive director of AJWS, which funds both development projects and emergency relief worldwide. AJWS is known not just for working to eliminate poverty and disease, but also for its support of the rights of women, homosexuals, and transgender people. Honored by the Huffington Post, the Jerusalem Post, and the Forward as one of the world’s most influential Jews, Messinger served on President Obama’s Task Force on Global Poverty and the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group.


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Ruth Messinger, politician and social worker.

Date of Birth

New York, NY
United States

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ruth Messinger." (Viewed on July 9, 2020) <>.


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