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Flyer for Betty Friedan's 1963 Presentation in Detroit

From the Archives: To Volunteer or Not to Volunteer? The Betty Friedan Conundrum

by Robbie Terman

Betty Friedan helped pave the way for women in the workforce, and the world is better for it. But, contrary to her early advice, we should not forget the contributions of volunteers to our society.

Dorrit Corwin and Rabbi Laura Geller

Rabbi Laura Geller: Torah of Jewish Feminism

by Dorrit Corwin

I wasn’t always easily identifiable as the Jewish feminist activist I am today. In fact, I was a Hebrew school drop-out ... but then I discovered Rabbi Laura Geller.

Silence Breakers Throughout History Composite (Color)

Historical Silence Breakers

by Bella Book

Here are just a few of the Jewish women throughout history who spoke out, breaking long-held silences about social issues and women’s disenfranchisement. Their stories remind us that change happens when women use their voices, loudly and together.

Bella Abzug on the cover of "Life Magazine," June 9, 1972

Why Don’t I Know More About Bella Abzug?

by Tara Metal

Among the many treats in Gloria Steinem’s new memoir My Life on the Road are the bevy of stories starring women who appear on jwa.org: Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Gerda Lerner, Betty Friedan, and even Emma Goldman earned mentions. But as I read Steinem’s book, one name made more appearances than the rest: Bella Abzug.

Peggy Olsen from Mad Men

Feminism, finally

by  Judith Rosenbaum

This week’s episode of Mad Men finally brought the moment I’ve been waiting for: when the women’s movement makes its arrival on the scene, if only in passing mention.

"The Feminine Mystique," by Betty Friedan

The Feminine Mystique: Betty Friedan, A Generation of Readers, and You

by Tara Metal

The story of The Feminine Mystique is of course the story of Betty Friedan, but it is also the story of every woman, young and old, who read the book and came away from it a changed person. This week, we celebrate the anniversary of its landmark publication in 1963, and its profound impact on the budding feminist movement of the time, as well as on subsequent generations of readers.

Topics: Feminism, Publishing
Betty Friedan

"The Problem That Has No Name," Then and Now

by Sophie Edelhart

Betty Friedan would end up being best known as the mother of second-wave feminism.

Birth of Harriet Fleischl Pilpel, pioneer for the right to privacy and free speech

December 2, 1911

Lawyer Harriet Fleischl Pilpel provides the historical link between birth control activist Margaret Sanger and feminist Betty Friedan.

Betty Friedan

For her acclaimed book, The Feminine Mystique, and her presidency of the National Organization for Women, Betty Friedan is hailed as the mother of second wave feminism.
Betty Friedan at ERA March in Washington, DC, July 9, 1978

Finding Friedan in Barcelona

by  Eden Marcus

It was August of 1970, and a group of 50,000 women marched proudly together in New York, marking the 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Betty Friedan, a feminist activist, organized the event and was asked to address the crowd. At one moment during the march, she recounted, she suddenly found herself quoting a Hebrew prayer: “Down through the generations in history, my ancestor prayed, ‘I thank Thee, Lord, I was not created a woman’. From this day forward women all over the world will be able to say, ‘I thank Thee, Lord, I was created a woman.’” Later, she explained that she was surprised that she drew upon Jewish text when expressing feminist ideas.

At that very moment, two of Friedan’s worlds collided—her Jewish and feminist worlds. The biblical quote connected the two—and ultimately created one powerful experience.

Topics: Feminism
Woman in Field with Rainbow

Tu B'Av: The Morning After

by  Gabrielle Orcha

I have always loved Tu B’Av, a holiday that honors the ancient tradition in which maidens, dressed in white, gather and dance in the fields and vineyards, intent on meeting their beshert, their soul mate. Per tradition, the unmarried men of the village came out in droves and watched the women dance. There is a discrepancy regarding who “chose” whom during those ancient times. Perhaps it was mutual: eyes and hearts locking in, the couple leaving together to embark on their life of male-female partnership.

Topics: Feminism, Marriage
"The Feminine Mystique," by Betty Friedan

Planting the seed: Memories of "The Feminine Mystique"

by  Susan Reimer-Torn

There’s a lot of buzz these days about Stephanie Coontz’s new book A Strong Stirring, an assessment of Betty Friedans’s 1963 manifesto The Feminine Mystique. It’s stirring up some personal memories of my own.

Valentine's Day Someecard

Better than Valentine's Day: Three things to celebrate instead!

by  Leah Berkenwald

In case you haven't heard, today is Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day isn't really a Jewish holiday, but since it's a "Hallmark holiday," it's for everyone. Lucky you! 

While some folks enjoy Valentine's Day (all the power to them!), many do not. As Jill of Feministe reminds us, many people like to project all their insecurities and issues onto Valentine's Day. Of course, it's easy to understand why this happens -- thanks to the barrage of messages about love and cuteness on display. 

Betty Friedan, 1921 - 2006

If there was any one woman who could be called the mother of feminism, it was Betty Friedan. Though "second-wave" feminism was a collective endeavor that had many founders, Friedan was the spark plug whose furious indictment of "the problem that had no name" – the false consciousness of "happy housewifery" – set off a revolution more potent than many of the other social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s. The impact of this social movement is still being felt around the world.

"Women Strike for Equality"

August 26, 1970

Ten thousand women marched down New York's Fifth Avenue on August 26, 1970, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

Meetings held to plan National Organization for Women

June 30, 1966

The foundation for the National Organization for Women was laid at a meeting in Betty Friedan's hotel room in Washington, DC.

Publication of "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan

February 17, 1963

The publication of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, on February 17, 1963, is often cited as the founding moment of second-wave femin

Women's Studies in the United States

Jewish women have played an impressive part in creating women’s studies as an academic discipline in the United States.

Literature Scholars in the United States

At the start of the twenty-first century, women of all classes, races, and ethnicities are so fully integrated into American literary academia that it is astonishing that, as little as a century ago, the idea of a woman professor teaching, for example, the novels of George Eliot or Henry James to a roomful of young men and women was inconceivable. In all highly literate cultures, secular and religious knowledge used to be the domain of men, while women were in charge of the practical side of daily life and, in the upper classes, of certain social matters.

Leadership and Authority

All early biblical leaders of the Jewish people were elected by God. The matriarchs and patriarchs, priests, prophets, kings, judges and warriors were chosen by divine plan to lead the nation at different points in its history. The Torah she-bi-khetav: Lit. "the written Torah." The Bible; the Pentateuch; Tanakh (the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographia)Torah offers us glimpses into the relationships between Sarah and Abraham, Rebecca and Isaac, Rachel, Leah and Jacob, based on the principle that ma’aseh avot siman le-banim (the deeds of the ancestors serve as a model for the descendents). Beyond the biblical text, the influence of matriarchal faith and insight is conveyed in the midrashic literature which expands the role of wife, helper and mother to include prophetess, teacher and visionary. Yet it is clear from the biblical narrative that females did not serve in the broader leadership roles filled by males.

Labor Movement in the United States

Jewish American women have played a central role in the American labor movement since the beginning of the twentieth century. As women, they brought to trade unions their sensibilities about the organizing process and encouraged labor to support government regulation to protect women in the workforce. As Jews who emerged from a left-wing cultural tradition, they nurtured a commitment to social justice, which would develop into what is often called “social unionism.” From their position as an ethnic and religious minority, as well as from their position as women, they helped to shape the direction of the mainstream labor movement.

Israel Women's Network

To page through the newsletters and annual reports published periodically by the Israel Women’s Network between February 1986 and January 2000 is to become aware of the powerful impact that can be made by a group of well-informed, energetic, articulate and determined feminists. Combining consciousness-raising, education, litigation and lobbying, the Israel Women’s Network was responsible for a veritable transformation in the status, image and self-image of Israeli women which marked the last fifteen years of the twentieth century.

Betty Friedan

Considered by many as the “mother” of the second wave of modern feminism, activist and writer Betty Friedan was one of the most influential feminist leaders of the second half of the twentieth century, a co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and its first president. She served on the boards of leading women’s organizations, fought for legislation to ensure women’s equality and wrote books analyzing women’s role in society and the women’s movement.

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