Clara Lemlich Shavelson

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Rose Schneiderman

A Treasure Trove of Fiery Jewish Women Labor Activists

Talia Lang

The directory of Jewish female labor activists is endless, from the better-known to the nearly invisible. [This] Labor Day, here is a list of Jewish female labor activists you never knew, or never knew were Jewish, or never knew said that, or never knew did that.

Topics: Labor Rights
Silence Breakers Throughout History Composite (Color)

Historical Silence Breakers

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.

Glitter Pad

My Menstruation, Myself

Bella Book

We at JWA decided to have an informal group chat about menstruation, our bodies, and sex. There was chocolate, honesty, and lots of laughter. Although we represent different ages and family backgrounds, we found plenty in common around this very normal (and under-discussed) topic.

Topics: Feminism

Clara Lemlich Shavelson

Clara Lemlich Shavelson pushed union leaders to recognize the importance of women in the labor movement and organized vital demonstrations for worker’s rights and cost-of-living issues.

Hanukkah: Ignite and Inspire - Online Learning Program for Jewish Educators

Build connections among Jewish values, trailblazing Jewish women, and the Hanukkah story. This program will provide a new lens for teaching your students about Hanukkah that goes beyond the Maccabees and the candle lighting blessings. JWA staff will model resources and activities that can be put to use as you celebrate the festival of lights.
Clara Lemlich in a Shirtwaist, circa 1910

Where's the Beef?

Jordyn Rozensky

Today I googled the Wendy’s commercial of the early 1980s were an older woman uses the catchphrase “Where’s the beef?!”. This may—or may not—surprise you. What probably will surprise you was the fact that this search was not inspired by my Memorial Day plans of grilling, but because of my job here at the Jewish Women’s Archive.

While exploring our archives I came across a truly remarkable activist, Clara Lemlich Shavelson.  Born in 1886, Shavelson was a key player in the labor movement. She was also a suffragist, communist, community organizer, and peace activist. Read on to find out where the beef comes into play!

Topics: Boycotts

Remembering the Uprising of the 20,000

Judith Rosenbaum

On a cold November morning onehundred years ago today, more than 20,000 immigrant workers--mostly young Jewishwomen--took to the streets of the lower east side of New York, kicking off aneleven-week general strike of the shirtwaist industry knows as the Uprising ofthe 20,000.

Radical activist Clara Lemlich Shavelson dies

July 12, 1982

Born in 1886, Clara Lemlich Shavelson was already a confirmed radical when she arrived in New York City in 1905.

Activist Clara Shavelson leads butcher shop boycott

May 27, 1935

On May 27, 1935, New York City women, organized as the City Action Committee Against the High Cost of Living, picketed butcher shops to demand a reduction in the price of meat.

Uprising of 20,000 (1909)

On November 23, 1909, more than twenty thousand Yiddish-speaking immigrants, mostly young women in their teens and early twenties, launched an eleven-week general strike in New York’s shirtwaist industry. Dubbed the Uprising of the 20,000, it was the largest strike by women to date in American history.

Socialism in the United States

Disproportionate numbers of Jewish immigrant women in America were associated with socialism in the first decades of the twentieth century. Their ideological commitment was expressed mainly in activism in left-leaning garment workers' unions. Their radicalism grew out of the same sources as male radicalism (changes experienced in late 19th century Europe and America, including proletarianization and secularization), but Jewish working women's radical consciousness and collective action emerged in the face of additional and different obstacles.

Clara Lemlich Shavelson

Clara Lemlich's impassioned Yiddish speech set off the 1909 Uprising of the 20,000, the largest strike by women workers in the United States to that time. But Clara Lemlich’s career as a revolutionary and activist began well before that famous speech and extended for more than half a century afterward.

Philanthropy in the United States

In the United States, Jewish women’s philanthropy generally occurred through three main types of organizations: autonomous women’s organizations, women’s organizations that included some men, and women’s auxiliaries of male-dominated groups. In recent decades, changes in Jewish philanthropy and in gender roles have influenced contemporary styles of Jewish women’s philanthropy.

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.

Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women's Clubs

The Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women's Clubs, or ELF, was a women's group inspired by the humanistic spirit of poet Emma Lazarus. The clubs worked through education and outreach to promote a progressive, secular Jewish heritage, as well as causes such as women's rights and the elimination of antisemitism and racism.

Communism in the United States

From the 1920s into the 1950s, the Communist Party USA was the most dynamic sector of the American left, and Jewish women—especially Yiddish-speaking immigrants and their American-born daughters—were a major force within the party and its affiliated organizations. Their numbers included community organizers, labor activists, students, artists and intellectuals. When the communist movement faded in the 1950s, these women carried radical traditions into new movements for social justice and international cooperation.

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