Community Organizing

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Emma Leon Gottheil

Although she rejected the idea of the first Zionist Congress, the brilliant and multilingual Emma Leon Gottheil had a change of heart and became instrumental in the founding of Hadassah.

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.

German Immigrant Period in the United States

The period 1820–1880 has generally been considered the era of German Jewish immigration to the United States. Issues of gender and family shaped this migration from the Germanic regions, and from other parts of Central and Eastern Europe from 1820 to 1880.

Jane Friedenwald

Jane Friedenwald, the daughter of German Jews and connected through marriage to one of the most prominent German Jewish families in Baltimore, was a valuable member of the new American Jewish aristocracy. She dispensed charity, created and supported American Jewish institutions, bettered herself intellectually and culturally, and raised her children to honor the family name and legacy.

Jane Brass Fischel

An outstanding communal leader in New York City’s Orthodox Jewish community, Jane Brass Fischel was a generous philanthropist and active participant in Jewish communal activities.

Feminism in the United States

Jewish women have played a significant role in all aspects of the American feminist movement.

Judith G. Epstein

Deeply committed to the establishment and development of the State of Israel, Judith G. Epstein dedicated her career as a social and political activist to Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. She served Hadassah in many leadership roles, including two terms as president. She also attended several meetings of the Zionist World Congress as a delegate, served as a representative to the United Nations, and was largely responsible for funding the Rothschild–Hadassah–University Hospital in Jerusalem.

Rose Dunkelman

A forceful and innovative Zionist leader, Rose Dunkelman came to prominence in Toronto during World War I because of her work for veterans, Jewish war orphans and the Red Cross. Born in Philadelphia to Harry and Dora (Belkin) Miller, at the age of twenty-one she married David Dunkelman (1880–1978), who became one of Canada’s most successful industrialists and retailers. For a short time, she participated in his business activities, chiefly the Associated Clothing Manufacturers and Tip Top Tailors, a chain of stores selling moderately priced clothing across Canada.

Sylvia Goulston Dreyfus

Sylvia Goulston Dreyfus, born November 12, 1893, was a prominent community activist in Boston. She was president of the Hecht Neighborhood House, a community outreach center (modeled after Jane Addams’s Hull House in Chicago) that helped many Boston Jews and still exists to this day. She also was a trustee of the New England Conservatory of Music, sat on the advisory board of the Berkshire Music Festival, and was honorary chair of the Palestine Orchestra fund, an orchestra that later became the Israeli Philharmonic.

Florence Dolowitz

Florence Dolowitz was a founder and lifelong leader of the Women’s American Ort (Organization for Rehabilitation and Training). She was born in a small town in Lithuania sometime in 1879, the exact date unknown. She was a precocious student, and, to further her education, she was sent with a brother-in-law to live with a childless uncle and aunt in the United States. When the nine-year-old arrived in the country, her destination had been shifted to another uncle. After a few years, she moved to New York City to join her two older sisters who had also emigrated and were now living on Henry Street.

Communism in the United States

In the forty years following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, communism was the most dynamic force in American left-wing politics and a primary mobilizer of radical Jewish women. At the center of this movement lay the American Communist Party, which grew out of various radical factions inspired by the October Revolution. In December 1921, most of these groups came together as the Workers Party, renamed the Communist Party USA (CP) in 1930.

Rosalie Cohen

I have lived through most of this century and observed all the -isms: Communism, Socialism, Fascism, Nazism, Zionism … only Zionism survives. It has been a great privilege to devote my life to Zionism, the millennial dream of the Jewish people.

Bund

Jewish women played leading roles in the formative years of the General Jewish Workers’ Bund, which was established in the Tsarist Empire in 1897, and initially participated in the movement in large numbers. However, the Bund seems to have had somewhat less success in mobilizing women in independent Poland between the two world wars than it had during the Tsarist era.

Jeanette Goodman Brill

Jeanette Goodman Brill was Brooklyn’s first woman magistrate and the second woman magistrate appointed in New York City.

Barbara Boxer

Barbara Boxer is currently one of the most influential liberal political figures in the country, having served in the United States Senate since 1992. Her visibility especially flows out of her vocal commitment to feminist causes.

Rose Brenner

This statement by Rose Brenner, first formulated in 1921 at a board of managers meeting, embodied her philosophy during her tenure as president of the National Council Of Jewish Women (NCJW), from 1920 to 1926.

B'nai B'rith Women

Before the outbreak of World War I, over a dozen B’nai B’rith women’s auxiliaries were scattered from San Francisco to New Jersey. They expanded into cultural activities, philanthropy, and community service, such as financial support of orphanages and homes for the elderly. Their announced aims were to perpetuate Jewish culture, enrich their communities, and ensure the religious survival of their sons and daughters. Their unannounced goals included sociability and the first steps toward personal independence.

Rebecca Thurman Bernstein

Rebecca Bernstein devoted her life to her family and to the Portland community. Bernstein was proud of her Jewish heritage and worked for many Jewish causes, but her interests were not limited to or by her Jewishness.

Beatrice Berler

Beatrice Berler returned to school at the age of forty-five and became an award-winning translator of Spanish-language novels and history. Her work as a literacy activist in the United States earned her national recognition.

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.

Jennie Loitman Barron

Even as a schoolgirl, Jennie Loitman Barron ignored society’s limits and set high goals for herself. In her long career as a lawyer and a judge, and in her lifelong work for women’s rights, she set many precedents for women in Massachusetts and across the United States.

Lizzie Spiegel Barbe

Lizzie Spiegel Barbe represents the “Jewish Clubwomen” of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century. Like other “Jewish clubwomen” of this era, Barbe was motivated to establish leadership roles for women within the organized Jewish community such as had previously not existed. All of Barbe’s communal work focused on the Jewish sphere, and she is remembered for her lifelong commitment to the Chicago Jewish community.

Assimilation in the United States: Nineteenth Century

Scholars have conventionally considered the nineteenth century the German era in the American Jewish history. Between 1820 and 1880, more than two hundred thousand immigrants from German lands arrived in the United States. Besides German Jews, this transatlantic movement also included migrants from ethnically Czech, Hungarian, Polish, and Baltic territories that at that time remained under German political control or cultural influence.

Associazione Donne Ebree D'Italia (ADEI)

The Association of Italian Jewish Women, or ADEI, was founded in 1927 in the city of Milan, Italy, home to the second largest Jewish community in the country.

Dora Askowith

Dora Askowith, author, historian, and college educator, believed that a knowledge of Jewish women’s history would serve as a catalyst for organization, activism, and moral leadership. She taught women at Hunter College for a total of forty-five years, and wrote that she was anxious to teach college students Jewish history because they were “poorly versed in the history of their own faith.”

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