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Activism

Climates of Change

In 1905, New York was a city of seemingly boundless opportunity — the entryway into a land where new jobs, secure homes, and potential legacies were within reach — even for the most destitute of immigrants, of whom a significant percentage were young, single Jewish women.

Because There's More to Russian Jews than Borscht

My aunt and I share so much more than our smile, passion for math and science, and college (go Barnard!). Our strongest and arguably our most important similarity lies in our shared sense of civic responsibility. Although I still have more to learn about social justice work, my aunt is the perfect model of a passionate, hard-working, and persevering activist.

Overcoming Opposition

It takes great courage to challenge authority when you’re a high school student. At that stage in your life, school comprises much of your world, and your relationship with school determines many aspects of your future. Although many school administrations might not encourage dissent, learning to stand up to injustice is as essential a skill for a young person to learn as calculus or chemistry. Of course, administrations are not the only unjust systems that teenagers typically encounter at school: it also takes great courage to stand up against the rigid social hierarchy that characterizes many student populations.

Being Fearlessly Feminist

Radical things happen when women come together. Whether it’s to plan a strike, march for the right to vote, or use their networks to spread information about birth control, when women come together, the establishment trembles. As Bella Abzug reminds us, “the establishment is made up of little men, very frightened.” If history is any indication, women who are brave enough to speak out can create an earthquake of social change, shattering any delusions little men may have about women and women’s equality. 

Carrie Goldberg

By helping victims of “revenge porn” get justice in court, and working to prevent such cases from occurring in the first place, Carrie Goldberg is creating important safeguards for an era in which people live more and more of their personal and professional lives online.

Hilde Holger

Hilde Sofer Holger’s choreography incorporated her interest in religion, politics, and the natural world, and provoked important discussions about the role of dance in the public sphere.

Jenny Hirsch

Jenny Hirsch devoted years to a society for women’s employment, but when the organization ironically refused to pay her, she reinvented herself as a mystery writer.

Janet Jagan

As president of Guyana for two years, Janet Rosenberg Jagan was the first American-born woman to serve as president of any country. Jagan was a student at the Cook County Nursing School in Chicago when she met Cheddi Jagan, a dentistry student.

Mary Gendler

Mary Loeb Gendler has helped shape social justice movements in indirect but effective ways, from crafting new rituals for Jewish feminists to helping Tibetan exiles leverage the tools of nonviolent protest.

Rising Voices and Rising Activists

At some point in their development, almost all young feminists must figure out how to balance participation in inherently patriarchal institutions with their burgeoning feminist sensibilities. This balancing act can be particularly tricky for young women raised in organized religions, which are often even more explicit about their sexist practices than other institutions.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Activism." (Viewed on December 11, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/activism>.

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