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Evelyn Torton Beck

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Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz (1945-2018) was a lesbian-feminist writer and editor. She made multiple theoretical contributions to understanding Judaism, lesbianism, and feminism as intersectional identities, extended an awareness of class and economic justice through a Jewish lens, and made visible racial differences within Jewish communities. She advocated Radical Diasporism as a progressive alternative to Zionism.

Adrienne Cooper

A versatile performer, scholar, administrator, and activist who worked in the fields of Yiddish culture, Jewish music, social justice, and feminism, Adrienne Cooper inspired international audiences with her compelling performances and nurtured a generation of musicians, academics, and advocates.

Evelyn Torton Beck

Evelyn Torton Beck: An Intersectional Role Model

Shira Minsk

Beck’s acknowledgment that Jewish lesbians had a unique struggle for acceptance and belonging in the feminist, lesbian, and Jewish communities was a radical move. She fought for more recognition and validation by feminist activists and lesbian activists, who she felt did not take her work seriously.

LGBTQ Quiz Cover Photo

Quiz: Which LGBTQ Activist Are You?

Bella Book

As we work to create a better and more inclusive future for all, take our quiz to figure out which pioneering Jewish activist you are!

Yiddish Theater in the United States

Women have always been important as both Yiddish theater audiences and actors. For a decade and more, most American Yiddish actors were immigrants, as were their audiences. Often families played in the same company, such as the famous Adler family. Now, as Yiddish theater has become attenuated, the loyalties and memories of women are important for its survival.

Sociology in the United States

Jews have made a disproportionate contribution to the field of sociology, despite discrimination and exclusion. Because sociologists are not identified by religion, it is difficult to know which American women sociologists are Jewish. Therefore, the first challenge in understanding the contribution and experience of American Jewish women sociologists is to identify them.

Peace Movement in the United States

Throughout the twentieth century, Jewish women played a major role in American peace organizations and movements. Jewish women have also been in prominent roles advocating for peace between Israel and Palestine, both in the Knesset and with private organizations.

Psychology in the United States

Although Jewish women in psychology generally deemphasized their Jewish identities in favor of identifying their work with scientific objectivity and universal human paradigms, they have been well represented in the field as theorists, researchers, and pioneers. They have made their most important contributions in two areas—clinical psychology and the social psychology of intergroup relations, especially as it involves groups marginalized in our society.

Literature Scholars in the United States

Jewish women have been among the key figures in literary scholarship in the United States in the postwar period. Those entering the profession in the 1950s faced more difficulties as women than they did as Jews. Today, Jewish women are found in all corners of the profession, from feminist and queer theory to administration, critical race studies, and beyond.


Lesbians and women’s same gender-loving has a long history in Jewish life, dating back to ancient times. Since the 1980s, particularly in the United States, Jewish lesbian thinking and activism has become a part of all facets of Jewish life.

Feminism in the United States

Jewish women participated in and propelled all aspects of the women's rights movement, from suffrage in the nineteenth century to women's liberation in the twentieth. Despite occasional instances of antisemitism in the general feminist movement, Jewish women were passionate advocates of feminist goals.

Evelyn Torton Beck

Evelyn (Evi) Torton Beck is a multi-faceted scholar, analyst, activist, feminist, dancer, Jew, and lesbian who has enriched each discipline she engaged. She wrote the iconic Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology, as well as articles on Franz Kafka, Frieda Kahlo, and the transformative power of the sacred circle dance. Under Beck’s leadership, the Women’s Studies Department at the University of Maryland, College Park, became world-renowned.


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