Mizrachi Women Meet Independently for First Time

June 19, 1939

The Women’s Mizrachi Federation in America, founded in 1925, was led in cities throughout the United States by women who were highly-educated, passionately religious Zionists, active both in their home communities and on behalf of Israel. This Women's Mizrachi event in 1960s Detroit, Michigan, was organized by Yetta Sperka, a playwright, speaker, and activist in women's, Jewish and Zionist causes.

Institution: Deanna Mirsky Sperka, Detroit

The Mizrachi Women's Organization opened its first independent meeting on June 19, 1939, in Atlantic City. Although it was the group's fourteenth annual meeting, it was the first conducted separately from a men's organization. Now the largest religious Zionist organization in the United States (under the name AMIT), the organization owes its creation to Freda Resnikoff.

Born in Russia in 1880, Resnikoff settled in New York City with her husband and four children in 1907. Just three years later, she helped found Bnos Mizrachi, an educational charity that was incorporated as Mizrachi Women in 1925. In contrast to secular Zionist women's organizations, Mizrachi Women was especially devoted to the needs of religiously observant Jewish girls in Palestine. The first and second major waves of European immigration to Israel consisted almost entirely of secular Jews; by the early twentieth-century, however, more and more religious Jews from both Europe and Arab countries were settling there. This demographic change created new needs and new opportunities for charitable organizations like Resnikoff's.

Originally founded to create vocational schools for religious girls in Palestine, Mizrachi Women soon became a major force in the field of education in Israel. The organization opened its first vocational high school for girls in Jerusalem in 1933, and a second school in Tel Aviv in 1938. In 1943, the organization's role expanded when it took charge of a group of children who had arrived in Israel through Youth Aliyah, as refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe. Because few of the existing resettlement agencies could accommodate the needs of religiously observant youth, Mizrachi Women founded a series of child-care centers and youth villages to meet their needs. In 1984 and 1991, the organization was central to the absorption of Ethiopian Jewish youth.

In 1981, the Israeli government recognized the Mizrachi Women schools, bringing them into the public religious education network. In 1983, the organization began working with troubled youth, establishing a system of family-like settings for them. In 1996, this work was recognized by the Ministry of Education's Religious Education Prize.

In 1983, the Mizrachi Women's Organization changed its name to AMIT. In doing so, it marked its long-standing autonomy from the religious Zionist organizations of Mizrachi men. Although the organization had been autonomous since 1934, the change of name was a symbol of its independent status. Today, AMIT claims 80,000 members in 475 chapters. Freda Resnikoff died on April 29, 1965, but her daughters, daughters-in-law, and granddaughter have remained involved with AMIT, with several serving successively as national president and national vice president of the organization.

SourcesJewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 48-49, 1145; New York Times, June 20, 1939.


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In going through my some old stuff of my deceased in-laws, I ran across a round gold lapel pin, in the center is a Chi, and around the edges it states: Mizrachi Women's Org, Youth Aliyah. I did not want to toss this, but thought you might be able to provide some information or want.

Hello! I've recently acquired a 1/20 gold filled vintage brooch that is about 1.5 inches in diameter and says "American Mizrachi Women". I would love to know more about the brooch and how it came to be. I've got it listed on yardsellr, but I'm hoping to find a member that would appreciate it and what it represents to own it. I feel that it's an important part of Jewish-American history and should be in the hands of someone that understands the historical value of the piece. :) More information on the piece would be wonderful!

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely, Victoria Grantham

In reply to by Victoria Grantham

I remember my beloved grandmother wearing her brooch with great pride. She was a lifetime member and I remember pictures of her volunteering during world war 2. Her brooch was lost many years ago after her passing and i would love nothing more than to have this reminder of her connection to her beliefs, Israel and this organization.


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Mizrachi Women Meet Independently for First Time." (Viewed on May 18, 2024) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/jun/19/1939/mwo>.