Activism

Content type
Collection

Irma May

Irma May was a pioneer in American Jewish philanthropy. Her reports from Eastern Europe motivated social action, while her political and speaking skills moved both the New York and larger Jewish community.

Lucy Fox Robins Lang

A committed anarchist by age fifteen, Lucy Fox Robins Lang participated actively in the labor and free speech movements of early twentieth-century America. She directed regional and national committees in support of persecuted anarchists, antiwar activists, and labor organizers, while earning her livelihood as a printer, waitress, vegetarian restaurant owner, and real estate broker. Eventually, she moved into the mainstream of the labor movement, becoming an adviser to and confidante of Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Although her focus shifted, the impulse behind Lang’s work remained constant.

Rose Kushner

Born on June 22, 1929, in East Baltimore, MD, Rose Kushner was the fourth and last child of Israel and Fannie Rehert. Her parents, both Eastern European immigrants, died by the time she was ten, and Rose went to live in the house of her aunt Golde. She was raised speaking Yiddish at home, and attended Hebrew School as well as classes at the Workmen’s Circle. Rose was an eager, bright student and hoped to attend college and ultimately become a physician, but since her older brothers were not willing to pay for her tuition, she went to work after graduating from high school. After briefly holding several office jobs, she became the assistant to animal behaviorist Dr. Horsley Gantt (1892–1980) at the Pavlovian Laboratory of Johns Hopkins Medical School, where she worked from 1947 until 1951.

Italy, Modern

The history of Italian Jews in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is essentially a story of social integration and embourgeoisement, with the exception of the years of Fascism, the racial laws (1938) and World War II. In Italy, each pre-unification state had a particular relation to its Jewish population, reflecting the strong regional differences that in many ways were maintained even after political unification in 1860.Even if the different realities of Italian Jewry were shaped by the history and the socio-cultural context in which they lived, some elements—such as the high degree of literacy among Jewish women and men—distinguished the Italian Jewish population in general. This literacy, which characterised nearly all Italian communities, with the exception of Rome, remained an advantage over the gentile population long after the barriers of the ghetto were pulled down.

Emma Goldman

Never knowing whether a locked door or an arrest by the police would greet her at a lecture hall, Goldman dauntlessly continued to speak on the variants of freedom encompassed in her anarchist vision.

Mire Gola

At the age of seventeen Mire Gola was elected to the main Ha-Shomer ha-Za’ir leadership in Galicia and moved to Lvov, where the leadership was located.In 1932 she was expelled from Ha-Shomer ha-Za’ir because of her radical stand on relations with the Soviet Union.At this time she began to be active in the Communist Party.

Elizabeth Glaser

Elizabeth Glaser made a significant contribution to the littlest AIDS victims. Mobilized to save her own HIV-infected children, Glaser founded the Pediatric AIDS Foundation (PAF) in 1988, which to date has raised more than $50 million.

Therese Giehse

Therese Giehse, who was far from possessing contemporary ideals of beauty, pursued her desire to be an actress with diligence and dedication.

Recha Freier

German-born Recha Freier founded Youth Aliyah in 1933, which assisted in sending Jewish European teenagers to Palestine prior to World War II to be trained as agricultural pioneers on kibbutzim. Although she was responsible for saving the lives of many thousands of Jewish youth, Freier’s efforts were not officially acknowledged until 1975, when she was eighty-three years old.

Ruth First

Ruth First was a prolific writer and her penetrating investigative journalism exposed many of the harsh conditions under which the majority of South Africans lived. As various restrictions prevented her from continuing her work as a journalist Ruth First became more and more involved with the underground movement that was changing its tactics from protest to sabotage.

Judy Feld Carr

In the late 1960s Judy and her husband were swept up in the Soviet Jewry campaign but soon refocused on the plight of Jews in Syria. Convinced that the approximately six thousand Jews of Syria needed strong western advocates, the couple organized a Syrian Jewish support committee.

Fanny Fligelman Brin

A riveting public speaker, masterful politician, skilled organizer, and administrator, Brin, who served two terms as president of the National Council Of Jewish Women (NCJW), 1932 to 1938, is best remembered for her work on behalf of world peace during the interwar years.

Baum Gruppe: Jewish Women

On May 18, 1942, two anti-Nazi Communist groups set fire to the anti-Soviet exhibit, Das Sowjetparadies (The Soviet Paradise), which was held in the Lustgarten in Berlin. The larger, leading group of the two, almost entirely Jewish in its composition and led by Herbert Baum, was known as the Baum Gruppe.

Matilde Bassani Finzi

Matilde Bassani Finzi continued her activity in anti-fascist groups and, together with Giorgio Bassani, organized parlor meetings and helped distribute newspapers and newsletters. After Mussolini’s fall on July 25, 1943, Bassani Finzi was released together with all the political prisoners. Immediately upon her release she contacted the Resistance groups, who began to organize in case Germany should invade Italy, which it did on September 8, 1943. After the war she continued to work for the ideals in which she believed: freedom, democracy and equality for women.

Sarah Aaronsohn

The semi-military role Sarah carved for herself in the underground, her activity and her voluntary death made her an icon and a model of a new “Hebrew” femininity, a model especially cultivated within the so-called civic sector of the Jewish Yishuv in Palestine (defined as distinct from the socialist labor sector, dominant throughout the period before the late 1970s).

Arise, Arise: A New Wave of Jewish Women Musicians

by  Jordan Namerow

Yesterday I attended a workshop on themes of social justice in Jewish music. I was given a music packet that included songs by Bob Dylan, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary), Pete Seeger, Jeff Klepper, the stud-of-a-Jewish-Rockstar Rick Recht, and E18hteen (the modern Jewish rock band founded by Dan Nichols). "E18hteen" sings that catchy song "Kehilah, Kedoshah" which is all the rage in Reform Jewish camps (I'm not going to lie -- I dig this song despite its cheesiness).

Topics: Activism, Music, Music

Mazel Tov, Arlene Blum! A Woman with a Purpose

by  Jordan Namerow

I'd like to give a special congratulatory shout-out to Arlene Blum, a phenomenal Jewess and founder of the Green Science Policy Institute, who was just awarded the 2008 Purpose Prize for people over the age of 60 who are taking on society's biggest challenges. 

Topics: Activism

World AIDS Day

by  Jordan Namerow

Today is World AIDS Day and, having spent this past summer in Uganda where I volunteered with an indigenous HIV/AIDS advocacy organization, AIDS awareness has particular resonance for me this year.

Topics: Activism, Medicine

Emma G. on SNL!

by  Judith Rosenbaum

Did anyone else catch the mention of Emma Goldman in last week's SNL Thursday Weekend Update? If you missed it, you can see it here (around 15:30-16:03). I love that Emma made it to prime time!

Topics: Activism, Television

Which "Jewesses with Attitude" would you support for President?

by Jewesses With Attitude

With the final presidential debate behind us, and the election fast approaching, many of us have begun to imagine how the world will change come November 5th. If you’re feeling too bombarded with Obama/McCain/Palin-saturated news feeds, we invite you to consider a different possibility: a Jewish woman as your president and vice-president.

Love Your Body Day and the Jewish Holidays

by  Lily Rabinoff-Goldman

Back to school means a few things to this Jewess: buying new white shirts (they never last more than a season) and preparing for the High Holidays. This fall, there may be a few other things on our collective plates, it being an election season and all, but I want to propose that we spend the next few weeks preparing not only for Rosh HaShana (September 29 - October 1) and Yom Kippur (October 9), but also for Love Your Body Day, an annual event (now in its 10th year) sponsored by NOW, which falls on October 15 (also Sukkot, this year).

Emma's Revolution!

by  Jordan Namerow

It's unlikely that Emma Goldman predicted her legacy would inspire the name of an activist folk music duo, but perhaps she did. Over the weekend, I had the delight of seeing Emma's Revolution, a "musical uprising of truth and hope from award-winning, activist songwriters" perform with feminist folk music pioneer Holly Near.

Topics: Activism, Music, Dance

Positioning Our Activism, Getting the Work Done

by  Jordan Namerow

My friends and I often talk about how our religious and activist identities interconnect when, at times, they seem to be at odds. I've been thinking about this while reading some of the essays in a provocative new anthology entitled Righteous Indignation: A Jewish Call for Justice.

Topics: Activism

“Treyfing” Sukkot?

by  Jordan Namerow

Sukkot is my favorite Jewish holiday. I like a good harvest bounty; I like that I can share meals with friends not in my kitchen; I like that I can eat while meditating on stars peeking through a canopy of colorful paper chains, laquered gourds, and chili pepper lights (which always adorned my family’s sukkah). In preparation for Sukkot (just a few hours away!), I've been thinking about other, more provocative, sukkah decor that might be inside the sukkot in which I eat.

Topics: Activism, Sukkot

A Multi-Faith ‘Holy Cow’

by  Jordan Namerow

A few weeks ago, I blogged about Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) and the increasing number of Jews making environmental advocacy an ethical priority, or for many, a religious imperative. What I didn’t muse about was how CSAs, organic farming, and food equity programs are appealing to other religious groups and, in many ways, uniting them.

Subscribe to Activism

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

Can We Talk?

listen now

Get JWA in your inbox