Communism

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Ray Harmel

Ray Harmel was a powerful force in the trade union movement in Apartheid South Africa, a committed Communist, an anti-Apartheid activist, and ultimately a member of the African National Congress.

Pauline Podbrey

Pauline Podbrey was a committed Communist and anti-Apartheid activist. A Lithuanian child migrant to South Africa, she moved away from her Jewish roots and endured exile as a result of her mixed-race marriage, only to become disillusioned with Communism.

Leslie Feinberg

Leslie Feinberg was a self-described “anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist.” She worked at the nexus of trans, feminist, lesbian, critical race, Jewish, and class politics. A speaker and author, Feinberg was a gifted activist and political organizer.

Berta Blejman de Drucaroff

Berta Blejman de Drucaroff was a prominent activist of the Yiddisher Kultur Farband (YKUF/ICUF) and a communist militant in anti-fascist organizations. She was president of the YKUF Women's Organization (OFI) and the main promoter of the reading circle network (leien kraizn) in Argentina.

Leike Kogan

Lía Gilinski de Kogan, known as Leike Kogan (1911-2001), was a prominent activist in the Yiddisher Kultur Farband (YKUF/ ICUF) and its women's movement (Organización Femenina del ICUF, OFI), linked to the Yiddish-speaking section of the Argentine Communist Party. She stood out as a leader and teacher in the schools belonging to this network.

Mina Fridman Ruetter

Mina Fridman Ruetter (1922-2003), an Argentinean-born Jew, was the most prominent leader of the Yiddisher Kultur Farband (YKUF) beginning in the 1970s. She studied and worked as a writer, teacher, and translator in organizations linked to the Communist Party and the Soviet Union. She was a highly visible leader and the disciple of YKUF intellectuals such as Pinie Katz and Samuel Gordon.

Bella Abzug Speaking with Constituents, 1976, by Diana Mara Henry

Hurricane Bella: A Whirlwind of Intersectional Feminism

Emily Axelrod

Abzug is an exemplar of what it means to be an intersectional feminist. She used her power and privilege to advocate for those she described as “on the outside of power.” Being a Jew herself, she was familiar with identity-based oppression, and because of that she knew she had to use her power to help fight for others.

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.

Harriet Perl, 1920 - 2013

In my imagination, she was a well-adjusted spinster whose heroes were Hemingway, Faulkner and Fitzgerald. But in the packed sanctuary that day, people spoke of a much greater hero: Ellen DeGeneres.

Death of Soviet spy Ursula Kuczynski (Ruth Werner)

July 7, 2000

"I fought against fascism.  Whatever else, I can hold my head up high because of that." - Ruth Werner, Soviet spy

Death of Ruth F. Weiss, last European eyewitness of the Chinese Communist Revolution

March 6, 2006

Ruth F. Weiss was the last European eyewitness of the Chinese Communist Revolution.

Birth of Vera Weisbord, Radical

August 19, 1895

Birth of Vera Weisbord, Radical

Frances Goldin, 87-year-old Occupy protester unsuccessfully tries to get arrested

Leah Berkenwald

In response to the police crackdown on Occupy protests across the country, thousands of people assembled with renewed energy at Occupy Wall Street on November 17th, dubbed the Occupy Wall Street Day of Action. While most protesters understand there is a chance they might be arrested, one protester was actively trying to make that happen. Frances Goldin, 87, has been arrested nine times for civil disobedience; her goal is to make it 12.

Top 10 Jewish Women in Labor History

10 Things You Should Know About Clara Lemlich

Leah Berkenwald

When Clara Lemlich was growing up in the Ukraine, her religious parents did not want their daughter learning Russian, the language of an antisemitic empire. But the strong minded girl was drawn to Russia’s literary masters—Tolstoy, Gorky, and Turgenev—and to the revolutionary literature being written in Russian. She took on odd jobs—sewing buttons, teaching folk songs, writing letters for illiterate women—to pay for Russian lessons and later for books she kept hidden from her family.

Sophie Gerson, 1910 - 2006

In her later years, Sophie was a tireless activist with the National Council of Senior Citizens, fighting for universal health care and defense of Social Security. A woman of charm and passion, she developed ties with a range of local activists, including nuns and other local Catholics.

Dorothy Ray Healey, 1914 - 2006

…Her ability to see the potential in every person and to help translate that potential towards reality – through teaching and shared organizing; through coaxing and prodding towards action; but mostly, through the most respectful and honest listening one could ever encounter – had enormous political ramifications.

Rose Pastor Stokes: Jewess with Attitude

Jewesses With Attitude

On April 5, 1905, J.Graham Phelps Stokes —Yale graduate, businessman, scion of one of New York’s “Four Hundred” families, social worker at the University Settlement on the Lower East Side, dabbler in progressive politics — announced his engagement to Rose Pastor — Russian Jewish immigrant, cigarmaker-turned-journalist, self-identified girl of the Jewish ghetto.

Execution of Ethel Rosenberg

June 19, 1953

Although they were tried and executed more than half a century ago, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg's names remain familiar to most Americans.

Remembering Janet Jagan, President of Guyana

Jordan Namerow

You might have read in the New York Times or in the Boston Globe that Janet Jagan, the first woman elected president of Guyana, died at age 88 this past weekend.

Yugoslavia

The Jewish community of Yugoslavia was small, vibrant, and diverse, with waves of immigrants arriving from the 16th through the 19th centuries. Like many Jewish communities in Europe, the Yugoslav community was decimated by the Nazis, and only a few Jews remain in Yugoslavia today.

Summer Camping in the United States

The Jewish summer camp movement shaped ethnic-American identity and Jewish childhood throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century. A means to fight anti-Semitism by showcasing patriotism and developing the camper’s physical fitness, it was also a safe space to explore, question and craft religious traditions and rituals, novel ideas about girlhood, and the possibilities of womanhood.

Rose Pastor Stokes

Rose Pastor Stokes was called the “Cinderella of the sweatshops” when, as a young reporter, she met and married millionaire James Graham Phelps Stokes. Stokes became increasingly radical, adopting antiwar and pro-abortion stands, becoming a union organizer, and joining the Communist Party.

Clara Lemlich Shavelson

Clara Lemlich Shavelson pushed union leaders to recognize the importance of women in the labor movement and sparked the famous Uprising of the 20,000 garment workers strike in 1909. She continued her activism throughout her life, organizing around women’s suffrage and leading food boycotts and rent strikes.

Ethel Rosenberg

Ethel Rosenberg, convicted in 1953 alongside her husband for conspiracy to divulge atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, became the second woman in the United States to be executed by the federal government. The verdict and the Rosenbergs’ execution became one of the most-questioned cases in United States history, as well as one piece of a much larger Cold War picture of anti-Communist hysteria and antisemitism.

Tillie Olsen

Tillie Olsen was an American-Jewish author, professor, feminist, and social activist whose powerful fiction about the lives of the working poor, women, and minorities have shaped the development of the American literary cannon. Tillie Olsen’s own struggles to combine writing with working and raising a family spurred her to recover the writing of other silenced women writers, revolutionizing the study of women’s literature.

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