Jewish History

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Anna Held cropped

Great Women You've Never Heard Of: Women's History Month at JWA

Judith Rosenbaum

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: despite devoting my life to women’s history, I’m not the biggest fan of Women’s History Month. While I love the public attention that turns to women’s stories in March, I hate the assumption that the stories of half the population deserve this attention just 1/12 of the year.

Topics: Jewish History
Edmund Pettus Bridge

Go See "Selma"

Emilia Diamant

I cried six times during the movie Selma. Each time for a different reason, and with varying durations/intensities. Within the first few minutes I had tears of mourning and shock running down my face. At one point I broke into sobs of sorrow.

Rachel by Joseph von Führich, 1836

Hannah's Ghost

Eliza Bayroff

I love Hanukkah. Always have. Eight crazy nights of games, presents, impromptu dance parties to the songs of Jewish musical maestro Paul Zim, and examinations of a stack of illustrated children’s books about the holiday, among them one very special giant-sized coloring book. (When I tell you giant-sized, I mean the length and width of an average toddler.)

Beach Sunrise

Keep Loving, Keep Fighting: Reflections after Thanksgiving

Joanna Ware

Sitting in my grandparents' house in Northridge, CA, on stolen land that was originally Barbareño and Chumash territory, I'm thinking a lot about how to foster space for gratitude without erasing the pain and violence in the paths that brought us to this place. Because rolled up in my story, in the events that led to me being in this place with my cherished family of origin, is a lot of pain and violence.

Birth of Adrienne Cooper, Performer and Interpreter of Yiddish Song

September 1, 1946

Adrienne Cooper was in a way the mother of the Yiddish revival.

Fania Mindell arrested for distributing birth control material

October 26, 1916

Fania Mindell, Margaret Sanger, and Ethel Byrne opened the first birth control clinic in the United States in Brooklyn in 1916.

Barbecue Image

Whose Labor Day Is It Anyway?

Etta King Heisler

Ron Ashkenas’ recent post for Forbes about Labor Day has me feeling unsettled, and I finally know why. In his article, Ashkenas explains that the “real purpose [of Labor Day] was to serve as a tribute to the working class — the men and women whose physical, and largely manual, labor had built the country.” He goes on to bemoan (as we have in the past) how the meaning of Labor Day has been lost in end-of-summer soirees and all-American barbeques. So far, I’m totally onboard with his argument. We should find more meaningful ways to commemorate the people who built this country, brick by brick.

Buddha with Swastika Cropped

Symbols

Jes Milberg-Haydu

Have you ever explained the Holocaust to someone who's never heard of it before? I have.

I don't remember a time when the Holocaust wasn't a part of my consciousness. So imagine my surprise when, sitting with co-workers in a gazebo at our school, a girl of no more than 7 years old with a luminous smile ambled by, her shirt emblazoned with a massive swastika.

Ryan's Mart Old Slave Mart Museum

Passover in Charleston

Tova Mirvis

I went to Charleston, South Carolina during the week of Passover to escape the fact that this year my holiday didn’t really feel like a holiday. My three kids were with their father for the week, according to the custody schedule. My parents and siblings were in Israel, and I’d decided not to join them there.

My boyfriend and I had picked Charleston because it was a city I’d never been to and as a Southerner myself, I’d always wanted to visit. But until now, it had never made it to the top of the list – and indeed, my own sense of myself as a Southerner was fading. The longer I lived away – in New York and now in Boston - the less present that personal and family history felt, more a piece of where I come from, but less and less who I am.

[Untitled] from "Our Marathon" by Chris Petranech

Remembering and Healing Together

Etta King Heisler

What does it mean to remember together?

Silence. That’s what I remember. Silence coated in hazy sunshine and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I spent most of the week of the Boston Marathon Bombing feeling alone—at my desk at work, on the couch or laying in bed at home. I woke the day of the lockdown to the news on WBUR coming from my alarm clock and I sat quietly, anxiously, in my apartment all day. I heard nothing outside, no sirens or cars or people shouting in the alley outside my window. It was totally surreal. I didn’t sleep well for weeks after that happened. I felt scared and alone.

Jackie Cochran, 1961

From School House Rock to Seneca Falls

George Kelley

 

My first Women's History Month Event took place in the spring of 1985. I was a college student in Syracuse, New York and yet I was unaware of the importance of Seneca Falls, just down the highway. Lucretia Mott was the name of a woman I heard on School House Rock.

Collective Action: Lessons from the Labor Movement

What is the meaning of work? What conditions cause workers to suffer and what inspires them to take action to improve their lives? What can Jewish history teach us about contemporary labor issues and our responsibility towards workers around the world? Watch interactive activities and see an experienced facilitator model investigations of several historical artifacts you can put to use in your classroom.

"A Train in Winter" reveals the strength of women’s friendship

November 13, 2011

There are 230 heroines in Caroline Moorehead’s book "A Train in Winter."

Claude-Anne Kirschen Lopez, 1920 - 2012

I have decided it doesn’t do anybody concerned any harm for a woman to take on a worthwhile project.

Ann J. Lane, 1931 - 2013

Ann Lane was a bold advocate not simply for women but, even more important, for feminist scholarship.

Theda Bara, 1915

Moments in History: Jewish Entertainers in Film

Jordyn Rozensky

For Jewish American Heritage Month, we’ve scoured the Archive for a special selection of posts we are calling Moments in History. This selection includes moments ranging from 1890 to 2011, each profiling a noteworthy moment in the history of female Jewish entertainers.

Topics: Jewish History, Film

Gerda Lerner, 1920 - 2013

Lerner's life experience equipped her to resist conformity—in particular, questioning the societal norms insisting that women had no history.

"But, I Don't Teach History!" Using Historical Sources in Jewish Education

Get new ideas for using historical sources across the curriculum to build connections between different entry points for Jewish education.

Birth of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Barbara W. Tuchman

January 30, 1912

Early in her career, Barbara Wertheim’s job was clipping and filing newspaper articles for The Nation magazine.  The fact that her father had bought the publication to keep it from go

Flames

Rosa Parks and Hanukkah: Why Ignorance Isn't Always Bliss

Etta King Heisler

On the Thursday night before Hanukkah began, I attended an event called A Sip of Eser, an introductory session to the ten-part young adult learning program Eser (meaning 10) run by Hebrew College in nearby Newton, MA. Amidst the tumult of a Boston bar, and alongside several dozen people I had never met, I heard rabbinical student, Seth Wax, tell a Hanukkah story none of us had ever heard.

Triangle Factory Fire Victims at the 26th Street Pier Morgue, 1911

Why history is not just about the past

Judith Rosenbaum

A fire blazes through a garment factory. The building has too few exits and not enough fire escapes. Fire equipment cannot reach the fire. More than 100 people—many of them young women—die. Bodies, burnt beyond recognition, line the floor of a government building, awaiting identification.

If you’re thinking, “I know that story—it happened at New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Company in 1911,” think again. Though the details fit the Triangle tragedy, the scene I’ve just described is the deadly fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, this past Saturday night.

Tackling Text

Browse a variety of ideas for adapting text-based primary sources for learners of all ages and abilities.

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