Mordecai Kaplan

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Collection

Zionism in the United States

Jewish women constructed an approach to American Zionism that reflected their own unique position in American and Jewish society, employing the category of gender as a variable in the historical analysis of American Zionism. A complex interplay of gender, social class, and religio-ethnic culture shaped the ways in which women helped to direct the course of Zionism in America.

Teaching Profession in the United States

Jewish women in the United States became professional teachers to an extent unprecedently in Jewish history. Through Jewish educational organizations, Jewish schools, and public schools, female Jewish teachers have played an important role in shaping the North American teaching profession.

Mathilde Schechter

Mathilde Schechter, wife of Solomon Schechter, founded the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism. She was a multifaceted individual, creative both in her home and in the public arena. As an organizational person, she developed herself fully, in line with the traditional women’s roles of the times yet stretching them in new and creative ways.

Ritual in the United States

Ritual behavior is one of the fundamental pillars of Judaism, and of all religions, whose concern is precisely with ultimate meaning and purpose. Since the 1970s, Jewish feminists have gained access to male-identified rituals, developed a wide variety of new rituals, and feminized core male rituals.

Reform Judaism in the United States

The 150-year history of organized Reform Judaism in the United States has been marked by a continuous adjustment to roles and expectations for women in Judaism that, in many ways, has been the movement’s signature defining feature. The Reform Movement has been a pioneer in forwarding women’s public engagement and leadership as Jews. At the same time, those advances have often been accompanied by experiences of exclusion and discrimination that have, at times, belied the movement’s rhetorical embrace of equality.

Reconstructionist Judaism in the United States

Reconstructionist Judaism was founded in America in the early twentieth century, inspired by the ideas of Mordecai Kaplan as well as modern and American influences. A fierce commitment to integrating democracy into Jewish life has ensured that, from its founding, Reconstructionism has been expansive around raising up the voices and experiences of women in Jewish religious life and leadership.

Mordecai Kaplan

Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, was a lifelong supporter of the rights of women., In 1922, he organized a Bat Mitzvah for his daughter, Judith, at one of his congregations, The Society for the Advancement of Judaism (SAJ).

Hebrew Teachers Colleges in the United States

Jewish education in the United States was always the preserve of women on the “front lines” and in the classroom. In the early days of these programs, men “ran the show,” but beginning in the mid-twenteith century, women began to take on increasing roles as faculty members and administrators. In the early twenty-first century, women ascended to leadership positions in these institutions.

Temima Gezari

Artist and innovator Temima Gezari made a lasting impact on Jewish education through her vivid artwork, illustrations of children’s books, and many years of teaching. Her philosophy of using art to teach about Jewish holidays and customs left an indelible mark on countless schoolchildren. After more than 60years in the field, she was a legendary presence in Jewish education.

Judith Kaplan Eisenstein

The first American girl to publicly celebrate a bat mitzvah, Judith Kaplan Eisenstein went on to become a Jewish educator, composer, and musicologist. Her accomplishments included studying at the school that would later become Julliard, teaching at the Jewish Theological Seminary Teacher’s Institute, and writing a songbook for children.

Bat Mitzvah: American Jewish Women

When Judith Kaplan Eisenstein became the first American girl to mark her bat mitzvah on March 18, 1922—two years after women were guaranteed the right to vote in the US—she recalled “shock[ing] a lot of people,” especially her disapproving grandmothers. Today, American girls across the Jewish spectrum, from secular to ultra-Orthodox, mark their coming-of-age in various forms.

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