Jewish History

Content type
Collection
Two Judahite Figurines from the Eighth Century BCE

From the Archive: Judahite Pillar Figurines

Dory Fox
Alison L. Joseph

The Posen Library shares two eighth century Judahite pillar figurines from their archive.

Topics: Jewish History

Episode 62: The Mystery of Esther Brandeau

In 1738, a young Christian man stepped off a boat in the French colony of Quebec and was doubly outed as a Jew and a woman. Esther Brandeau was born around 1718 in Saint Esprit, a Jewish community on the outskirts of Bayonne, France. Brandeau was the first documented Jew to have set foot on Canadian soil, but she didn’t stay long. Historian and performing artist Heather Hermant tells the story for Can We Talk? and for JWA's revised and updated edition of the Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women.

Riv-Ellen Prell

Anthropologist Riv-Ellen Prell initiated ethnographic study of ordinary American Jews that paid attention to religion, gender, ritual, and cultural performance. Her work addresses the primacy of gender in twentieth-century Jewish life and looks at economic and power relations often expressed through negative stereotypes of Jewish women.

White Puzzle Pieces on Blue Background

A 1,000-Piece Puzzle: My Jewish Ancestral History

Judy Goldstein

My ancestral history is like a 1,000-piece puzzle with half of the puzzle pieces missing.

Page from "Mir Forn" by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

From the Archive: A Page from Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman’s Book "Mir Forn"

Carole Renard

The Yiddish Book Center shares a page from Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman's children's book Mir Forn ("We're Off") from their archive.

Ginevra Blanis

Ginevra Blanis was a late sixteenth-century silk manufacturer of the Florentine ghetto and Siena. She left her mark as a founder of the young community with her philanthropy and in the public communication of what she considered Jewish values in the provisions of her will.

Title page of the Register of a Jewish Midwife by Roza, 1700s

From the Archive: Register of a Jewish Midwife

Deborah Dash Moore
Dory Fox

The Posen Library shares an eighteenth century midwife's register of births from their archive.

Frances Rosenthal Kallison

Frances Elaine Rosenthal Kallison was a horsewoman and historian, a cofounder of the Texas Jewish Historical Society, and the only Jewish woman in the National Museum and Cowgirl Hall of Fame.  A regional leader of the National Council of Jewish Women, she lobbied to end the poll tax and open pre-natal clinics for the poor. The exhibit she curated on Texas Jewry for the 1968 World’s Fair in San Antonio has been continually updated.

Audrey Flack

The only female member of the founding group of photorealists, New York-born painter and sculptor Audrey Flack is especially recognized for the feminine content in her art. Her feminist sensibilities manifest in both her pioneering paintings, which often consider stereotypes of womanhood, and her sculptures, frequently depicting goddesses and other strong female figures. Flack’s work appears in prominent collections around the world.

Women at Masada

In the first century BCE, King Herod the Great built a fortified palace atop the mountain of Masada overlooking the Dead Sea. Seventy years after Herod’s death, during the First Jewish Revolt against Rome, Masada was occupied by bands of Jewish rebels, including families. This entry surveys the literary and archaeological evidence of women among the rebels at Masada.

Ministering Women and Their Mirrors

Women who ministered at the entrance of the Tabernacle gathered around to donate their copper mirrors (Exodus 38:8), which were then smelted down to make the basin where the priests would wash before entering the sanctuary. The women may have served as guards, warding off evil with their mirrors. Midrash, however, conjectures that the women used these mirrors to seduce their husbands in Egypt, raising up the hosts of Israelites.

Leslie Feinberg

Leslie Feinberg and the Power of Queer Jewish Memory

Avivit Ashman

After reading Stone Butch Blues, I feel like I finally have a history and a sense of memory as a queer Jew.

Monica Unikel

Mónica Unikel-Fasja is a chronicler of Jewish immigrant stories. She created a dozen guided walking tours in Mexico City and revitalized the oldest Ashkenazi synagogue as a bastion of Jewish culture, designating it a treasure trove of history fully accessible to the general public.

Lilith Magazine Fall 1987 (crop)

Jewish Feminist Texts Help Me Get through the Pandemic

Molly Fraser

I will continue to access Jewish feminist texts for wisdom and fortitude when I need them.

Photo of Mollie Steimer with Lined Background

Mollie Steimer: Finding a Radical Approach to the American Criminal Justice System

Liana Smolover-Bord

Mollie Steimer dedicated her life to advocating for prisoners. Though we’ll likely never fully live up to her anarchist ideals, we can fight for radical solutions.

Belinda Brock's parents crop

The Language of the High Holidays

Belinda Brock

Rosh Hashanah connects us to each other and to our roots—even virtually.

Episode 45: Shofar in the Desert

No sound is more iconic for the Jewish New Year than that of the shofar blast. This year, many Jews will hear the sound of the shofar virtually. Can We Talk? producer Sarah Ventre is one of hundreds of shofar blowers who will share their shofar blasts with their congregations over Zoom. In this special Rosh Hashanah mini-sode, Sarah ventures into the urban desert in Phoenix, Arizona to practice blowing her shofar. She shares her thoughts on what the shofar blast means to her this year, during the global pandemic.

Nicodemus Historic Site

The Forgotten History of 19th Century Black and Jewish Settlements in Western Kansas

Emily Cohen

In the late nineteenth century, Russian Jews and Black Americans settled in western Kansas to start a new life. Was it the promised land they imagined?

Topics: Jewish History
Sketch of Ray Frank, 1893

Ray Frank, A Complex Figure: Let’s Talk about Honesty and Self Care

Eleanor Harris

In March, my RVF piece about Ray Frank went up on the blog; however, parts of this blog post trouble me.

Illustration of a Plague Doctor wearing beak mask.

Antisemitism During Coronavirus: From Pandemic to Pandemic

Ari Fogel

Antisemitism is, unfortunately, not a unique response to a pandemic.

2019-20 Rising Voices Fellow Madeline Canfield's Notebook

My Worn and Faded Yellow Notebook, a Living Record

Madeline Canfield

In my notebook, I recount anecdotes that bear the mark of the past I am reckoning with today.

Online History Courses

Dive into Jewish women’s history from the comfort of your living room with JWA’s online history courses. Here, you can:

  • Learn more about this virtual program
  • Access information for upcoming courses

The Plot Against America Promo Image

"The Plot Against America" and the Jewish Insult

Ilana Diamant

The Plot Against America exemplifies how "Jewish" speech illuminates the diversity in class, culture, and politics of the Jewish people.

Episode 42: Ode to Ladino (Transcript)

Episode 42: Ode to Ladino (Transcript)

Episode 42: Ode to Ladino

Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish, was once the mother tongue of Sephardic Jews in Turkey and other Jewish communities that once thrived around the Mediterranean. Now, there are only about 100,000 Ladino speakers scattered throughout the world. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we meet Karen Sarhon, a woman on a mission to keep Ladino, and the culture surrounding it, alive. Freelance journalist Durrie Bouscaren brings us this story from Istanbul, Turkey.

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