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Feminism

Jacqueline Levine

Jacqueline Levine is an outstanding example of female activist leadership in American Jewish life. In over five decades of service to the Jewish community, she has combined her powerfully deep liberal political beliefs and activities, which benefit the poor and disadvantaged, with her concern for the vast needs of specific Jewish communities.

Anne Lapidus Lerner

When Anne Lapidus Lerner entered Radcliffe College in 1960, university-based Jewish Studies departments were virtually nonexistent. The few male professors of Jewish subjects in the United States were scattered among departments of history, philosophy, religion and Semitic languages in an equally scant number of institutions. But by the time Lerner earned her Ph.D. in comparative literature (French, modern Hebrew and American literatures) from Harvard in 1977, Jewish Studies programs were springing up in colleges and universities throughout North America. When she was appointed Vice Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1993, her fields, Hebrew literature and women’s studies, were full-fledged sub-disciplines of Jewish studies.

Käthe Leichter

Käthe Leichter was undoubtedly the foremost socialist feminist in “Red Vienna” during the interwar years. A Social Democratic politician, labor organizer and author, with a doctorate in political economy, she directed women’s affairs for the Viennese Chamber of Workers (Arbeiterkammer). In May 1938, before she had a chance to escape from Austria, Käthe Leichter was arrested by the Gestapo for illegal socialist activities; she was never released from imprisonment.

Leadership and Authority

All early biblical leaders of the Jewish people were elected by God. The matriarchs and patriarchs, priests, prophets, kings, judges and warriors were chosen by divine plan to lead the nation at different points in its history. The [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] offers us glimpses into the relationships between Sarah and Abraham, Rebecca and Isaac, Rachel, Leah and Jacob, based on the principle that ma’aseh avot siman le-banim (the deeds of the ancestors serve as a model for the descendents). Beyond the biblical text, the influence of matriarchal faith and insight is conveyed in the midrashic literature which expands the role of wife, helper and mother to include prophetess, teacher and visionary. Yet it is clear from the biblical narrative that females did not serve in the broader leadership roles filled by males.

Leaders in Israel's Religious Communities

Since the late twentieth century women have begun to assume leadership positions that are undoubtedly “religious” in both content and form. Religious leaders, like any other leaders, guide their followers towards achieving goals and purposes, and can do so by influencing their followers’ motivation. Religious leaders guide their followers towards religious goals and derive their authority to do so from the strength of their own religious characteristics. What therefore distinguishes them from secular leaders is that even in democratic societies their authority does not emanate solely from the public, but also from a religious source—in the case of Judaism, the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary]. Hence, a crucial criterion for religious leadership in the world of Jewry is “knowledge of the Torah,” by which is meant the ability to refer to the canonical texts in an unmediated manner.

Law in Israel

The socio-economic status of a profession determines the significance of women’s integration into the profession. The integration of women into professions is not always an indication of socio-economic flourishing. When a profession is undervalued and underpaid, the integration of women may represent exploitation rather than success. In contrast, the legal profession in Israel is sought after and elitist. Women have been prominent partners in the legal profession for some time and their successful integration reflects socio-economic success in a wider frame of social reference.

Anna Kuliscioff

Russian revolutionary, internationalist, early feminist, doctor and one of the founding generation of Italian socialists, Anna Kuliscioff was born Anja Moiseevna Rozenstein, near Simferopol in the Crimea, between 1854 and 1857.

Joyce Kozloff

One of the founders of the Pattern and Decoration movement in America in the 1970s, Joyce Kozloff is an internationally recognized painter, public muralist and feminist whose long-term passions have been history, culture and the decorative and popular arts.

Edith Konecky

Edith Konecky, despite a small body of work, can lay claim to a large literary achievement with Allegra Maud Goldman (1976), a coming-of-age novel that chronicles the growth of a young female artist. In brilliantly comic, deceptively simple vignettes, Konecky depicts the world of a nouveau riche Jewish American family in the early part of the twentieth century.

Kolot: Center for Jewish Women's and Gender Studies

Kolot grew out of what had been the Jewish Women’s Study Project (JWSP) at The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC). From its inception in 1990, JWSP worked at RRC to include the field of women’s studies in the curriculum and to offer co-curricular programs that reflected women’s place in Judaism.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Feminism." (Viewed on March 24, 2019) <https://jwa.org/topics/feminism>.

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