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Puah Rakovsky

Puah Rakovsky dedicated her life to working towards the empowerment of Jews, particularly of Jewish women. She was a revolutionary woman, taking on important roles as an educator, translator, organizer of women, and an early socialist Zionist.

Poland: Interwar

A minority habitually ignored by scholars, Polish-Jewish women played important roles in the changing cultural and political framework of the interwar years.

Shoshana Persitz

Born in Russia to wealthy parents, Shoshana Persitz was a passionate Zionist and a leader in education reform. She operated a Hebrew-language publishing house in Russia before making Aliyah to Israel, where she continued in publishing and served three terms in the Knesset.

Pelech Religious Experimental High School for Girls, Jerusalem

Pelech is a pioneering school for girls in Jerusalem. For over half a century, Pelech has sought to educate its students towards a love and understanding of Torah. It encourage its students to take part in leadership roles in the religious world and in Israeli society and promotes women’s involvement in improving social justice.

Judith Peixotto

A gifted teacher who tirelessly promoted her students both within their schools and in the larger world, Judith Peixotto was appointed the first Jewish principal in the city of New York in 1849, at age 24. A Sephardic Jew of Spanish and Portuguese origin, she continued to teach and lead schools until her marriage in 1851.

Mizrahi Feminism in Israel

Mizrahi feminism goes beyond the typical western scope of feminism to include the history and issues that concern women in the Middle East in Israel and in Arab and Muslim countries. An intersectional feminism, it is particularly sensitive to issues of race, class division, immigration, and ethnic discrimination.

Margaret Seligman Lewisohn

Margaret Seligman Lewisohn—education advocate, philanthropist, art collector, and college trustee—did not just give generously to education causes. As the head of the Public Education Association, Lewisohn helped make the community as passionate about education as she was.

Learned Women in Traditional Jewish Society

The long-standing idea that women are either not fit to be educated or do not need to be educated has deep roots in Jewish history. Yet in spite of these very real disabilities, there seem always to have been a handful of women in traditional Jewish communities who became educated.

Sara Lee

Sara Lee, a Jewish educator who combines charisma with caring and vision with realism, has been a central figure in the effort to ensure Jewish continuity. In recent years the American Jewish community has recognized both the critical need for and the difficult challenge of providing all Jews with an excellent, compelling Jewish education.

Kurdish Women

Jews lived in Kurdistan for 2,800 years, until a mass migration to Israel in the 1950s. This Jewish community’s ancient roots and relative seclusion in the Kurdistan region fostered unique religious, cultural, and linguistic characteristics. Despite assimilation and the loss of traditional practices, the community remained tight-knit.


Although the kibbutz was intended as an equalitarian, democratic utopia, attempts to achieve gender equality have been limited by traditional masculinities and male-controlled spheres and gender inequalities have persisted.

Higher Education Administration in the United States

The Academy and Judaism share similar values. At both their roots lies a passion for knowledge—the love of learning, the necessity for debate and discussion, an appreciation for the challenge of scholarship. This would suggest no mystery in the number of Jews in universities. However, it is women’s space in these intellectual settings—historically unwelcome by the academy and unsupported by Jewish scholarly institutions—that poses the wonder.

Hebrew Song, 1880-2020

Hebrew song as a whole, including songs of Erez Israel and the State of Israel, is a unique socio-cultural phenomenon that has developed over time. The dawning of Hebrew song can be traced to the period between 1880 and 1903, and it has grown to reflect the diverse aspects of Israeli society since then. The contribution of women to Hebrew songs, in general, has risen steadily over the years. 

Hadassah: Yishuv to the Present Day

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA) has a lengthy history of activity in the Yishuv and Israel, going back to 1913, about a year after it was founded in New York, and continuing to this day. This activity, outstanding in its scope, continuity, stability, and diversity, encompasses efforts in the sphere of health and medical services and in the welfare of children and youth.

Henriette Goldschmidt

At a time when women were banned from universities, Henriette Benas Goldschmidt championed women’s education as a crucial building block of a healthy society. She co-founded the General Association of German Women in 1865 and served on the association’s board until 1906, advocating women’s education for the betterment of society. In 1911 she created her crowning achievement, the Leipzig College for Women, Germany’s first women’s college.

Anna Maria Goldsmid

Anna Maria Goldsmid was a Victorian Jewish advocate of women’s education and Jewish emancipation who made a name for herself as a translator, lecturer, philanthropist, and poet.

Edna Goldsmith

Edna Goldsmith was a driving force in the establishment of the Ohio Federation of Temple Sisterhoods. A founder of the federation, she served as its first president from 1918 to 1923 and then as honorary president until her death. Throughout her life, Goldsmith was active in welfare organizations, concentrating particularly in the educational field.

Germany: 1750-1945

The Jewish Reform movement did not liberate women from their subordinate religious status, and the nineteenth-century bourgeois German family ideal with its rigid gender roles soon eclipsed the fluid structure of premodern Jewish families. Jewish women were expected to transmit German bourgeois values while also shaping their children’s Jewish identity.

Norma Fields Furst

Higher education was not merely a family priority for Norma Fields Furst; it also became her professional focus. Furst used her positions of authority at different colleges and universities to garner support for civil rights and gender equality within academia.

Mary Jacqueline Fabian

Mary Jacqueline Fabian was a talented soprano who toured throughout the United States in Europe in the twentieth century. Fabian’s primary legacy to the arts lies not in her performances, her versatility on stage, or her popularity behind the microphone, but rather in her organizational skills and her unswerving conviction that opera and music education are not just for the elite.

Caribbean Islands and the Guianas

Women were among the earliest settles in the Dutch and English Caribbean. Early Caribbean Jewish women, despite living in patriarchal societies, still managed to engage in public pursuits. As Caribbean Jewish communities became increasingly racially blended over time, women of color became some of the most definitive architects of distinctly Creole Caribbean Jewry.

Assimilation in the United States: Twentieth Century

Jewish women assimilating into a changing American society across the twentieth century navigated often conflicting gender roles. As they strove to achieve upward social mobility, they adapted Jewish assumptions of what women, especially married women, should do to accommodate American norms for middle class women. Their collective accomplishments registered in political activism, organizational creativity, strong support for feminism, religious innovation, and educational achievement in the face of antisemitism, stereotypes, and denigration.

Argentina: Sephardic Women

Argentina’s Sephardic community included Jews from all over the Sephardi diaspora. Immigrant women often worked alongside their fathers or husbands in general stores, as well as doing household chores and raising children. As Sephardic communities became more established, women’s educational opportunities expanded, and women played important roles in philanthropy and Zionism.

Ruth Nanda Anshen

Ruth Nanda Anshen, twentieth-century philosopher, lecturer, and author, was an “intellectual instigator” for such writers of genius and eminent thinkers as physicist Albert Einstein, scientist Jonas Salk, and others. Anshen created connections between the great thinkers of different fields, offering them opportunities to explain their work to each other and the general public.

Anna Marks Allen

Anna Marks Allen was part of a group of Philadelphia Jewish women who established and ran the first independent Jewish charitable societies in the United States. At a time when congregational Jewish life was restricted to men, Jewish women of Allen’s social status increasingly turned towards philanthropy as a way to participate in the public life of the Jewish community.


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