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Civil Rights

Annie Nathan Meyer

Annie Nathan Meyer promoted women’s higher education; chronicled women’s work; dramatized women’s status in plays, novels, and short stories; raised funds for Jewish and black students; wrote hundreds of letters to the editor; published art, drama, and music criticism; and championed physical activity and the outdoors.

Elizabeth Holtzman

A member of the generation that came of age in the 1960s, Elizabeth Holtzman has pursued a public career epitomizing some of the most important trends in postwar American and Jewish life. In her successive roles as a congresswoman, Brooklyn district attorney, and comptroller of New York City, she emerged as an effective and activist public servant, a forceful campaigner, and a champion of liberal and feminist causes. Her career illustrates the recent empowerment of ambitious, highly motivated, professional young women and the increasing role of Jewish figures in electoral politics. In addition, she has been a dedicated Jew, with a highly regarded record of communal commitment and achievement.

Bessie Abramowitz Hillman

Bas Sheva Abramowitz (“Bessie” was created by an Ellis Island immigration officer) was born on May 15, 1889, in Linoveh, a village near Grodno in Russia. She was one of ten children born to Emanuel Abramowitz, a commission agent, and Sarah Rabinowitz. In 1905, Bessie, who spoke only Yiddish and some Russian, joined an older cousin in immigrating to America. Most 1905 immigrants fled czarist oppression and anti-Jewish violence, but Bessie reported that her aim in leaving home was to escape the services of the local marriage broker.

Lillian Herstein

The history of Jewish women in the American labor movement tends to focus on those whose careers unfolded in the needle trades. Such was not the case with Lillian Herstein, who was a teacher and a nationally known labor leader. Ethel Lillian Herstein, the youngest of six children, was born on April 12, 1886, in Chicago. Her parents, Wolf and Cipe Belle, emigrated from Vilkovishk, Lithuania, shortly after the U.S. Civil War, not only for economic reasons but because of Wolf’s admiration for Abraham Lincoln and his ideals.

Pearl Willen

Pearl Willen was a social and human welfare activist and communal leader with a love for Jewish heritage. She had a lifelong record of service for such causes as civil rights, women’s rights, and the rights of workers.

Virginia Snitow

Virginia Levitt Snitow was a multifaceted woman who was a teacher, political activist, pre-Second Wave feminist, poet, writer and founder of US/Israel Women to Women.

Ottilie Schönewald

In her autobiography, Ottile Schönewald wrote, “The German Women’s Movement had the greatest influence on my life.” Deeply involved in several women’s and Jewish organizations, Schönewald was a feminist activist who became a politician to advance her causes.

Angiola Sartorio

In approximately 1918 Angiola Sartorio had an opportunity to see a performance by the father of European modern dance, the Hungarian Rudolf von Laban (1879–1958). This proved a striking and fateful experience for her. She was later able to attend the classes of Laban teacher Sylvia Bodmer (1902–1989) and received her diploma from Laban himself.

Eugenia Goodkind Meyer

A prominent civic leader in Westchester County, New York, Eugenia Goodkind Meyer was a longtime advocate of civil rights.

Gill Marcus

Gill Marcus, who never married, was born in Johannesburg in 1949. Her grandparents were from Lithuania but her parents, Molly and Nathan, were born in South Africa. Both her parents were members of the South African Communist Party and from an early age Gill was made aware of the iniquities of apartheid; the Marcus home, open to people across the color line, was very different from that of the average white South African household.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Civil Rights." (Viewed on December 14, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/civil-rights>.

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