Bertha Pappenheim

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Agunot

Agunot are women who are unable to obtain a rabbinic divorce because their husbands or husbands’ male next of kin are unable to give one, leaving them chained in marital captivity. Although many efforts have been made to address these problems, for those most part agunot in halakhically observant communities continue to face deep-seated challenges.

Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls and Women

The Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls and Women (JAPGW) was an Anglo-Jewish organization in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries dedicated to providing Jewish women and girls an avenue out of prostitution. Founded by Constance de Rothschild Battersea and several other prominent Anglo-Jewish women in the 1880s, the JAPGW was initially one of the few organizations to acknowledge the plight of Jewish prostitutes in Britain, particularly among immigrant communities, but grew to be a multifaceted, nationally recognized organization.

Ronald Regan and Margaret Thatcher, 1987

Digging Up Women's Stories

Ruth Abrams

By the time Ronald Reagan declared the first Women's History Month in March, 1987, I was a college junior. Women's history had already changed my life. In college I realized that women's history could do more than add an exceptional famous woman or two into the stories of famous men; asking about women could change the whole picture of history. Of course, it took me a little longer to realize just how many famous women's stories I didn't know.

Bertha Pappenheim

Bertha Pappenheim was the founder of the Jewish feminist movement in Germany. In 1904, she founded the League of Jewish Women. Pappenheim believed that male-led Jewish social service societies underestimated the value of women’s work and insisted on a woman’s movement that was equal to and entirely independent of men’s organizations.

White Slavery

“White slavery traffic” was an expansion of the prostitution that spread throughout the world in the first years of the twentieth century, following the massive emigration to the New World and resulting from the growing poverty and misery of European women in the age of industrialization. Jewish women were particularly vulnerable in a hostile environment, and Jewish women's organizations played an active role in the international struggle against this plague.

Hannah Karminski

During the mid-1920s and the 1930s in Germany, Hannah Karminski served as secretary of the League of Jewish Women and, from 1924 to 1938, as editor of its newsletter. After the forced liquidation of the League in 1938, Karminski remained in Germany and continued her work in the Reich Association of Jews in Germany, assisting with the kindertransports and welfare. She was deported to Auschwitz and murdered in 1942.

Juedischer Frauenbund (The League of Jewish Women)

Founded in 1904, The League of Jewish Women pursued secular German feminist goals while maintaining a strong sense of Jewish identity. The League supported vulnerable women through practical social reforms while fighting for political power within the German Jewish community. It saw employment opportunities as essential to women’s economic, psychological, and emotional independence.

Jewish Feminism in Post-Holocaust Germany

Jewish feminism in Germany today is an expression of a wide-reaching renewal of Judaism occurring in many European countries since the early 1990s. German Jewish feminists built on the historical tradition of the Jewish women’s movement in pre-Holocaust Germany and has since taken many paths.

Glueckel of Hameln

Born into an affluent family in Hamburg, Glückel of Hameln became the business partner of her beloved first husband. She began writing memoirs in 1691, after her husband’s death. These memoirs are incredibly detailed, combining a meticulous record of her life and descriptions of events that occurred in local Jewish communities. Her memoirs are both a singularly important social and historical document and one of the greatest literary achievements of Ashkenazi prose–in Yiddish or Hebrew–at least until the end of the eighteenth century.

Germany: 1750-1945

The Jewish Reform movement did not liberate women from their subordinate religious status, and the nineteenth-century bourgeois German family ideal with its rigid gender roles soon eclipsed the fluid structure of premodern Jewish families. Jewish women were expected to transmit German bourgeois values while also shaping their children’s Jewish identity.

Henriette Fürth

Despite facing ongoing anti-Semitism, journalist Henriette Katzenstein Fürth remained a passionate and vocal German patriot throughout her life. She began publishing articles on social criticism while raising eight children, eventually writing 200 articles and 30 monographs, earning both an income and a reputation for insightful journalism. She served on the Frankfurt municipal council and in 1932 she was honored by the city of Frankfurt for her 70th birthday.

Central Organizations of Jews in Germany (1933-1943)

During the Nazi regime, the political participation of the League of Jewish Women in the affairs of the Jewish self-help organization the Reichsvertretung was initially unwelcomed by male leaders, despite the fact that women attended its meetings. Following the dissolution of the League in 1938, four of its members created their own network in order to present a united front for Jewish women’s interests and continued to participate in important functions of the Reichsvertretung.

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