At the turn of the twentieth century, Jewish women in the United States participated vigorously in virtually all the era’s mass social movements, including the suffrage movement. Although individual American Jewish women had supported suffrage since the movement’s beginning in the mid-1800s, its revitalization during the 1890s—just when the American Jewish population was growing tremendously due to mass migration from eastern Europe—brought ever-increasing numbers of Jewish women (and many men) of all class, ethnic, national, and religious backgrounds to the cause.
Rich once said, “In a time of frontal assaults both on language and on human solidarity, poetry can remind us of all we are in danger of losing–disturb us, embolden us out of resignation.” In other words, poetry has the power to express the things that unite us all as humans and can inspire us to work together toward a common goal.
I feel as if I won the lottery by being born Jewish, as so many of my most cherished memories and values are inherently tied to this part of my identity. As proud as I am of my Jewish identity, I’ve always been troubled by one of the fundamental ideas in Judaism: that Jews are “the chosen people.”