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Immigration

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Review of Mary Antin's "The Promised Land" appears in the "New York Times"

April 14, 1912

Only 30 years old when she published her autobiography, The Promised Land, Mary Antin captured the dreams and experiences of turn-of-the-cent

Florence Prag Kahn elected as first Jewish woman in U.S. Congress

February 17, 1925

As the wife of Julius Kahn, a U.S. Representative from San Francisco, Florence Prag Kahn had developed her own public identity by writing a column on Washington doings for her hometown newspaper. When her husband died, she ran in a special Congressional election held on February 17, 1925.

Anzia Yezierska

Having immigrated with her family from Eastern Europe, Yezierska chronicled the hunger of her generation of newly arrived Jewish Americans around the turn of the century. Her novels, short stories, and autobiographical writing vividly depict both the literal hunger of poverty and the metaphoric hunger for security, education, companionship, home, and meaning—in short, for the American dream.

Yemenite Women in Israel: 1948 to the Present Day

Approximately fifty thousand Jews came to Israel from Yemen via Operation Magic Carpet during the period of mass immigration (1949–1950) (Barer 1956; Sa’adon 2002: 115–125). A further 3,500 arrived between 1988–1996 (Saadon 2002, 122). The transition of Yemenite women from a traditional-religious society to a western-secular society is marked by a certain ambivalence.

Yemen and the Yishuv

Yemenite women proved to be most stable and resourceful, both in Yemen where tradition reigned, and also after immigration to The Land of IsraelErez Israel and New York, facing changes and challenges in turbulent times. They adapted to changing economic, social and communal conditions, acculturated in language skills and organizational life, and were instrumental in bringing up their daughters and sons to successfully integrate into the new worlds.

Lillian D. Wald

Lillian Wald began her work in 1893, when she discovered the need for health care among New York’s largely Jewish immigrant population. Her solution to this problem, in the form of public health nursing—a term she coined—served only as the beginning of her life’s work, which was dedicated to providing health care, education and social services to the poor and immigrant members of her Henry Street Settlement, and beyond.

Vocational Training Schools in the United States

For nearly fifty years, vocational training schools enabled immigrant women and their single daughters to aspire to, and in many instances actually attain, a higher standard of living.

Stereotypes in the United States

The process of projecting ideas and fantasies is called stereotyping. Scholars have repeatedly demonstrated that stereotypes, in fact, have more to teach about the “stereotyper” than the “stereotyped.” In relations between minorities and majorities, particularly when a dominant group suppresses and limits another, those stereotypes play a crucial role in rationalizing the rights of the powerful over the powerless and in justifying why a group is despised.

Sports in the United States

The ways in which females participated in sporting life within both the immigrant and the wider culture reveal how women’s sports activities at times promoted assimilation yet also generated discord within the generational, gender, class and ethnic context of their lives in the United States.

South Africa

The South African Jewish community is a highly organized, relatively affluent community, estimated at between eighty thousand and ninety thousand Jews in 2001—less than two percent of the total white population and 0.5 percent of the total population. Despite these small numbers and continuing emigration, the South African community remains one of the twelve largest Jewish communities in the world.

Barbara Miller Solomon

Barbara Miller Solomon, educator and pioneer in women’s history, suggests the transformative role that education could play in individual women’s lives, a theme that also shaped much of her writing.

Sisterhoods of Personal Service in the United States

The Sisterhoods of Personal Service constituted a significant unit within the constellation of Jewish social welfare organizations, personally assisting a considerable number of immigrants through a variety of financial, vocational, educational, and social programs.

Socialism in the United States

Disproportionate numbers of Jewish immigrant women in America were associated with socialism in the first decades of the twentieth century. Their radicalism appears to have grown out of the same sources as male radicalism—the changes experienced by the Jewish community in late nineteenth-century Europe and America, including proletarianization and the secularization of Jewish religious values. But Jewish working women’s radical consciousness and their militant collective action in America emerged in the face of extraordinary obstacles.

Kate Simon

Kate Simon wrote numerous books, including a series of guidebooks for Meridian Books. It was her raw, honest account of her life in her three-volume memoir, however, that was hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “a classic of autobiography.”

Settlement Houses in the United States

Jewish women have played significant roles as benefactors, organizers, administrators, and participants in American settlement houses. Settlement houses, founded in the 1880s in impoverished urban neighborhoods, provided recreation, education, and medical and social service programs, primarily for immigrants.

Sephardi Women in the United States

Sephardic Jews constitute only a small proportion of American Jewry. Although they comprised the majority of American Jewry during the colonial period, that majority never exceeded twenty-five hundred prior to the American Revolution. By the nineteenth century, the Sephardi community was vastly outnumbered by Ashkenazim. Nevertheless, a few outstanding Sephardi personalities captured public notice.

Julia Richman

Learning the language of America came first, but Julia Richman wanted the schools to do much more. On her list were the establishment of kindergartens; cheap, nutritious lunches; playgrounds; health examinations; instruction in domestic science for girls and manual training for boys. She was not alone in advocating these initiatives, but when she was elevated to district superintendent of the Lower East Side schools in 1903, she was in a better position than most to put them into effect.

Cecilia Razovsky

Cecilia Razovsky was a remarkably active woman who spent her life striving to assist immigrants in adapting to life in the United States and other countries.

Philanthropy in the United States

Jewish law and custom, secular culture, and economic and social roles have shaped Jewish women’s involvement in philanthropic activities. Although the term is often associated with the beneficence of the wealthy, philanthropy refers to a broad range of activities—giving time as well as giving money—that are intended to enhance the quality of life in a community or a society.

National Council of Jewish Women

When the National Council of Jewish Women was founded in 1893, it was the first national organization in history to unite Jewish women to promote the Jewish religion. That its commitment to preserve Jewish heritage in a quickly modernizing America would be fraught with contradictions was not readily apparent in the optimistic surroundings of the World Parliament of Religions, convened as part of the Chicago World Exposition.

Mexico

In Mexico the organizational and cultural models created throughout the period of Jewish immigration determined the status of women both within the Jewish community and in Mexican society at large.

Hunter College

Long known as the “Jewish Girls’ Radcliffe,” Hunter College of the City University of New York was founded in 1870 as the Normal College of the City of New York. It was a public, tuition-free secondary and teacher-training school that admitted students solely on the basis of academic merit, determined by competitive examination, and by residency in the city. Over the years, it became a haven for academically advanced students unable to afford more costly schools or to gain admission to institutions with more restrictive admissions criteria. Women who were considered “socially undesirable”—African Americans, Catholics, and Jews, especially those from Eastern Europe—attended Hunter in disproportionate numbers. Hunter’s student body, therefore, differed significantly from that of other women’s colleges in America. From 1900 to the end of World War II, decades when many institutions of higher education implemented policies of selective admissions specifically designed to deflect minority students, Hunter gladly welcomed these same women. Hunter educated scores of intellectually gifted and professionally talented women whose skills and achievements amply repaid the city’s largesse.

Fanny E. Holtzmann

Fanny E. Holtzmann was a middle child in a family of seven children. Born in Brooklyn to Henry and Theresa Holtzmann, she grew up ignored by her busy family. Her close relationship with her maternal grandfather was crucial in encouraging Fanny, once labeled the “class dunce,” to complete three years of high school and enroll in night classes at Fordham University’s law school. During the day, she worked as a clerk for a theatrical law firm. The only woman to graduate in her law class of 1922, she opened her office half an hour after passing the bar.

Elizabeth Holtzman

A member of the generation that came of age in the 1960s, Elizabeth Holtzman has pursued a public career epitomizing some of the most important trends in postwar American and Jewish life. In her successive roles as a congresswoman, Brooklyn district attorney, and comptroller of New York City, she emerged as an effective and activist public servant, a forceful campaigner, and a champion of liberal and feminist causes. Her career illustrates the recent empowerment of ambitious, highly motivated, professional young women and the increasing role of Jewish figures in electoral politics. In addition, she has been a dedicated Jew, with a highly regarded record of communal commitment and achievement.

Holocaust Survivors: Rescue and Resettlement in the United States

They had made it through World War II and now they were coming to America, 140,000 strong. The women, along with the men, had survived the rigors of the ghettos, the horrors of the concentration camps, the final agony of the death marches. They had been in hiding, or fighting with the partisans. They had escaped to the Soviet Union, some to Shanghai. And even after the war, they had been penned into displaced persons camps, in a holding pattern, waiting for a place to live, determined to get out of Europe. Now America was finally opening its doors, the doors that had been so tightly guarded during the war and, before, in the 1930s. And the American Jewish community was about to shoulder a responsibility that would sorely test its resources, commitment, and understanding.

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