Content type

Naomi Shemer

Naomi Shemer was a prolific singer and composer who built a unified Israeli cultural consciousness through her beautiful melodies. From the 1950s to the 1990s, Shemer wrote music that was performed throughout the country, including “Jerusalem of Gold” and “Lu Yehi.” In 1983, she was awarded the Israel Prize, and she continued to write new music until her death in 2004.

She'erit ha-Peletah: Women in DP Camps in Germany

Family played an important role in the lives of Holocaust survivors in DP (displaced persons) camps – in 1947, the birth rate in DP camps was one of the highest in the world. Women served as teachers and eager students, and they were active in the effort to open immigration to Palestine.

Shelamziyyon Alexandra

Queen Shelamziyyon Alexandra ruled Judea in the 1st century BCE. During her reign, which was the only time a woman inherited the throne from her deceased spouse, she deposed the ruling party that had supported her husband. In the place of that party, she appointed the Pharisees, whose heirs portray her positively in the rabbinic literature they composed.

Alice Hildegard Shalvi

Israel Prize Laureate Professor Alice Shalvi was a leading Israeli feminist activist and scholar. Founder of the Israel Women’s Network and the Ben Gurion University English Department and longtime principal of the iconic religious feminist high school Pelech, Professor Shalvi was instrumental in advancing gender issues in Israeli education, society and politics.

Ada Ascarelli Sereni

Ada Ascarelli Sereni helped thousands of Jews emigrate to Palestine during and after World War II following the death of her husband, a Jewish volunteer for the British army who parachuted into Nazi-occupied Europe.

Gabriela Shalev

Gabriela Shalev, one of the outstanding Israeli academicians in the field of law, has instructed innumerable students in the intricacies of contract law, on which she has published and lectured in the light of her own analyses and theories.

Second Aliyah: Women's Experience and Their Role in the Yishuv

The desire of woman immigrants of the Second Aliyah for self-actualization and economic independence played an important part in shaping new Hebrew society in pre-state Israel. Civil sector women saw every Yishuv occupation, including traditionally feminine ones, as work of national importance and in service of the broader Zionist project.

Adolphine Schwimmer-Vigeveno

Adolphine Schwimmer-Vigeveno was an active member of the Jewish Women’s Council in the Netherlands in the decades before the outbreak of World War II. She served as the general editor of its periodical and later as its president, stimulating solidarity among Jewish women, organizing Jewish social work, and exploring contemporary Jewish issues, including Zionism.

Alice Schwarz-Gardos

As a journalist, editor and foreign correspondent, Alice Schwarz-Gardos wrote articles for German-language newspapers in Israel and Europe from an explicitly Zionist and patriotic point of view. Besides her journalistic work, Schwarz-Gardos published eleven books in German.

Faye Libby Schenk

Fay Libby Schenk turned down a promising career as a zoologist to devote herself to Hadassah and other Zionist organizations. She worked her way up at Hadassah and eventually became president, during which time Hadassah began rebuilding its hospital on Mount Scopus and created its Institute of Oncology in Jerusalem.

Rina Schenfeld

Rina Schenfeld is an Israeli dancer and choreographer who uses objects of daily life to build a world of poetry and dance. She was a principal dancer in Batsheva Dance Company in the 1960s and 1970s and later established the Rina Schenfeld Dance Theater.

Pnina Salzman

Renowned classical pianist Pnina Salzman was the first Israeli pianist to conquer concert stages in Europe and Asia in the early 1940s, before the establishment of the State of Israel. She also enriched the local music scene with her premieres of Israeli composers, who wrote for her knowing that their work would receive superb interpretation. She won the Israel Prize for her musical achievements.

Samaritan Sect

Samaritan liturgy featured women prominently and showed them in positions of power. However, there is a lack of women in the current Samaritan community, and any Samaritan women are subject to strict laws. Marriage between cousins is common, rules pertaining to divorce and adultery favor the man, and stringent laws surround ritual purity.

Nelly Leonie Sachs

In 1966 Nelly Sachs became the first German woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. After Sachs fled Berlin in 1940, her thirty-year exile in Sweden proved fertile ground for her poetry. She was motivated as a writer by her deep desire to bear witness to the victims of the Holocaust.

Russian Immigrants in Israel

Approximately 350,000 Jewish women moved to Israel from the Former Soviet Union after 1989. Among the key issues they faced were occupational downgrading, sexuality and family life, sexual harassment, marital distress, and single-parent families.

Hanna Rovina

Called the "High Priestess of the Hebrew theater," Hanna Rovina was awarded the Israel Prize for Theater Arts for her contributions to the Habimah stage and her commitment to reviving the Hebrew language. Acting with the Habimah theater, she played many different parts over the course of six decades. A year before her death, Habimah named its large auditorium after her.

Mathilde Dorothy De Rothschild

Mathilde Dorothy De Rothschild was deeply involved in all facets of Zionist politics. She was an extremely hard worker and proved to be invaluable to Zionist efforts and the Rothschild Foundation.

Bethsabée Rothschild

Bethsabée (Hebrew: Batsheva) de Rothschild, the scion of a well-known philanthropic family, helped support numerous activities in the United States and Israel, especially dance, music, and science.She created the Batsheva and Bat-Dor dance companies and was awarded the Israel Prize in 1989 for her special contribution to Israeli society.

Gertrude Rosenblatt

Gertrude Rosenblatt earned praise for the many ways she helped build the State of Israel. From her role as one of the first directors of Hadassah to her direct service for the needy, she was a dedicated and active Zionist.

Romanian Yiddish Theater

Romania was a wellspring of the Yiddish theater, as there were Jewish theater troupes in the major Romanian cities and acting troupes traveled throughout the country performing dramas, comedies, musicals, and operettas. Women played a significant role in performing and shaping Romanian Yiddish theater and became known internationally for their work on the Yiddish stage.

Dalia Raz

Dalia Raz was an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces who worked to redefine women’s role in the Israel Defense Forces. As an OC (Officer Commanding) in the IDF Women’s Corps, she worked to expand the types of duties women were able to perform while serving in the IDF and encouraged women’s participation across all sectors of the IDF’s operations.

Flora Sophia Clementina Randegger -Friedenberg

Born in Italy in 1825, Flora Sophia Clementina Randegger-Friedenberg was a persistent educator and writer. She is best known for the publication of her Jerusalem journal, which shared her extraordinary experiences in a way that combined messianic hope and the enlightenment ideals of knowledge and progress.

Prose Writing in the Yishuv: 1882-1948

Female Yishuv writers have often been ignored in discussions of Jewish literature from the period. As the sometimes-melancholy tone and escapist themes of their writing show, these women struggled to escape the margins in pre-state Palestine. Nonetheless, the works of these female writers offer important insights into the lives of Yishuv women and paved the way for contemporary women writers.

Politics in the Yishuv and Israel

Institutionalized politics and a variety of factors—the politicization of women’s issues, the Israeli-Arab conflict, the impact of religion on the political arena, and the socio-economic structure—have resulted in both exclusion and inclusion of women in Israeli politics.

Political Parties in the Yishuv and Israel

Women’s political parties have played an important, though to date poorly acknowledged, role in the social and political history of Israel. They had a significant impact on women’s participation in power center, political and other; they placed a major part in the struggle for women’s right to vote and to be elected; they raised the issue of violence against women, and much more.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox

Read the latest from JWA from your inbox.

sign up now