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Community Organizing

Irgun Zeva'i Le'ummi (I.Z.L.)

Following World War I, the government of Britain was granted a mandate over Palestine by the League of Nations, with the aim of establishing a national home for the Jews. That “National Home,” the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:432]Yishuv[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], would later become an independent Hebrew state. However, in May 1939, with World War II imminent, the British government issued a “White Paper” banning Jewish immigration to Palestine. “Illegal” immigrant ships that had managed to escape from Europe were barred from entering Palestine and some were even forced to return to Europe, to almost certain death.

International Ladies Garment Workers Union

The International Ladies Garment Workers Union was founded in 1900. The eleven Jewish men who founded the union represented seven local unions from East Coast cities with heavy Jewish immigrant populations. This all-male convention was made up exclusively of cloak makers and one skirt maker, highly skilled Old World tailors who had been trying to organize in a well-established industry for a couple of decades. White goods workers, including skilled corset makers, were not invited to the first meeting. Nor were they or the largely young immigrant Jewish workers in the newly developing shirtwaist industry recruited for the union in the early years of its existence. But these women workers still tried to organize.

Beba Idelson

Beba Trachtenberg was born on October 14, 1895 in Yekaterinoslav (Dnepropetrovsk), Ukraine, then part of the Russian empire. Her parental home was poor and unattractive and the family lived in hardship, primarily because her father, Yitzhak, had no regular means of income. The Trachtenbergs provide a good example of the changes undergone by East European Jewry at the time. Beba’s mother, Rivka, was a pupil at the progymnasia, a kind of state junior high school. Her father, who was religiously observant, studied [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:416]Talmud[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] but was also well-versed in the customs and practices of modern life. He sent his sons to heder and hired a private tutor for his daughters.

Adele Bluthenthal Heiman

Adele (Bluthenthal) Heiman was born on August 22, 1900, the eldest child of Adolph and Rachel (Rae Solmson) Bluthenthal. Her siblings were Henriette, Madeline, and David. Adolph Bluthenthal, born in 1865 in Germany, had come to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as a teenager. Family members had settled there before the Civil War. Adolph established a leading men’s clothing store and was active in civic and religious life. In December 1895, he married Rae Solmson, daughter of prominent Pine Bluff settler Solomon Solmson. Rae’s mother was German-born Henrietta Berlin, whose family settled in Baltimore, Maryland, when she was fourteen.

Bela Ya’ari Hazan

Bela Hazan was born in December 1922 in the town of Rozyszcze in the Volhynia region into a family of eight children. Her father, David, who led the prayers in the local bet-[jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:357]midrash[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], died when she was six, leaving the burden of earning the family’s livelihood to her mother Esther, who owned a small grocery store. The mother sent all the children to a school of the Tarbut network, mainly so that they would gain fluency in the Hebrew language, which was spoken at home. After completing elementary school, Hazan was sent to the ORT vocational school in the city of Kowel, where she shared a room with a young woman from her hometown and supported herself by giving private Hebrew lessons.

Hasidic Women in the United States

Hasidic women represent a unique face of American Judaism. As Hasidim—ultra-Orthodox Jews belonging to sectarian communities, worshiping and working as followers of specific rebbes—they are set apart from assimilated, mainstream American Jews. But as women in a subculture primarily defined by male religious studies, rituals, and legal obligations, they are also set apart from Hasidic men, whose recognizable styles of dress and yeshiva ingatherings have long presented a masculine standard for outsiders’ understanding of Hasidism.

Reina Hartmann

Reina Kate Goldstein, the daughter of Simon and Kate (Mayer) Goldstein, was born in Chicago on February 2, 1880, and lived in the Chicago area her entire life. She became an integral member of the community by devoting her life to organizations that served Chicago’s women.

Marjorie Guthrie

Marjorie Guthrie is remembered for her several careers. She was first a dancer and then a teacher. She founded the Woody Guthrie Children’s Fund and Archive (in 1956) to preserve her husband’s works for future audiences. Finally, during the last fifteen years of her life, she became a national advocate for basic biomedical research on the diseases of the chronically ill.

Elinor Guggenheimer

Elinor Guggenheimer first toured New York City day nurseries as a member of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies during the 1930s. Horrified by what she saw, Guggenheimer began a lifelong crusade for improved and standardized child care facilities across the country. A veteran of New York City politics, Guggenheimer has also worked to promote women in public office and was one of the founding members of the Women’s Political Caucus in 1971.

Florence Shloss Guggenheim

Florence Shloss Guggenheim was born on September 3, 1863, in Philadelphia, the daughter of Lazarus and Barbara (Kahnweiler) Shloss. She married Daniel Guggenheim on July 22, 1884. As part of the Guggenheim family, Daniel was on the board of directors of the American Smelting and Refining Company. The Guggenheims had two sons, Robert and Harry, and a daughter, Gladys Guggenheim, who would later marry Roger W. Straus of New York, who cofounded the publishing house Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Community Organizing." (Viewed on December 14, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/community-organizing>.

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