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Community Organizing

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.

Haganah

Although there has been much academic interest in assorted aspects of the history of the Haganah, the subject of women in that organization has not yet merited an in-depth study, despite the considerable contribution of women in the Haganah during the struggle to establish the State of Israel. The present article is based on interviews conducted with some thirty women from various sectors of the population, who were active in the Haganah. The overall treatment of the various orientations among the women stems, among other things, from the information that emerged from these interviews.

Hadassah in the United States

When seven women concluded on February 14, 1912, “that the time is ripe for a large organization of women Zionists” and issued an invitation to interested friends “to attend a meeting for the purpose of discussing the feasibility of forming an organization” to promote Jewish institutions in Palestine and foster Jewish ideals, they scarcely anticipated that their resolve would lead to the creation of American Jews’ largest mass-membership organization. Yet Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, became not only the most popular American Jewish organization within a short span of years, maintaining that preeminence to this day, but also the most successful American women’s volunteer organization, enrolling more women and raising more funds than any other national women’s volunteer organization.

Aliza Greenblatt

Deep love for the Jewish people informed the life of Aliza Greenblatt, an American Yiddish poet and an early, committed leader in Zionist and Jewish women’s organizations. Greenblatt was among the first to organize the American Jewish community and raise funds toward the establishment of a Jewish national home. Many of her poems, which were widely published in the Yiddish press, were also set to music and recorded.

Faige Teitelbaum

Faige Teitelbaum was the wife of the late Satmar rebbe, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum (died 1979). She was a leader of the Satmar Hasidic community and often performed the role of a Hasidic rebbe. In this powerful role, she was undoubtedly the best-known woman in the Hasidic world.

Bela Szapiro

Before World War II, Lublin was one of the largest Jewish communities in Poland. Bela Szapiro’s activities contributed to making it the vibrant cultural and political center of Polish Jewry that it was.

Suburbanization in the United States

Few Jews participated in the first wave of suburbanization during the final decades of the nineteenth century. Today, suburbs are the popular residential choice of most Americans. Despite their increasing diversity, they still lack the population density, poverty, and public culture of urban centers.

Rahel Straus

Rahel Goitein Straus, one of the pioneering women medical doctors trained in Germany, can serve as a model precursor to the “New Jewish Women” of the twentieth century. Successfully combining a career as a physician with marriage and motherhood, she adhered to traditional Jewish values, while also embracing feminist and Zionist ideals.

Dorothy Straus

Over the course of her life, Dorothy Straus was active as a lawyer, college lecturer, Democrat, member of the League of Women Voters, and member of several municipal and state government committees. In her writings, public statements, and activities, she demonstrated a commitment to efficient, socially active government policies, especially regarding the protection and advancement of women.

Mollie Steimer

Mollie Steimer, a leading anarchist and advocate for the rights of political prisoners, was a codefendant in one of the most publicized antiradical trials in American history.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Community Organizing." (Viewed on December 15, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/community-organizing>.

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