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Mizrahi Feminism in Israel

Mizrahi feminism goes beyond the typical western scope of feminism to include the history and issues that concern women in the Middle East in Israel and in Arab and Muslim countries. An intersectional feminism, it is particularly sensitive to issues of race, class division, immigration, and ethnic discrimination.

Nehama Leibowitz

Although Nehama Leibowitz refused to acknowledge that she was a revolutionary in any way, ultimately her unique achievements changed Orthodox society’s perception of a woman’s capabilities and undoubtedly opened doors for the female Torah scholars who followed. Through her teaching, Leibowitz brought numerous people, including non-Jews, to a new conception of Torah study.

Leaders in Israel's Religious Communities

Since the late twentieth century, Israeli women have begun to assume leadership positions that are undoubtedly “religious” in both content and form. In the Reform and Conservative movements, gender equality has existed for decades, while in the most traditional ultra-Orthodox societies distinctive female religious leadership exists only within halakhic constraints. In modern Orthodoxy, measured changes have led to significant changes over the years and a new generation of religious leadership.

Julia Koschitzky

An activist, philanthropist, and leader of Canadian and world Jewry, Julia Koschitzky was born in Cardiff, Wales, the daughter of Max Podolski and Elli (Moses) Podolsk. The family relocated to Canada in 1949, eventually settling in Toronto in 1956. Julia and her husband Henry Koschitzky became involved in communal leadership and philanthropy, specifically in Jewish education and social welfare, and she took on active roles in Jewish affairs both in Toronto and around the globe.

Ruth Kisch-Arendt

Ruth Kisch-Arendt, an Orthodox Jew, became one of Germany’s foremost performers of lieder (nineteenth–century allegorical poems set to music)through the intense period of anti-Semitism leading up to the Holocaust. After World War II, Kisch-Arendt used her talents to highlight great Jewish composers.

Mordecai Kaplan

Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, was a lifelong supporter of the rights of women., In 1922, he organized a Bat Mitzvah for his daughter, Judith, at one of his congregations, The Society for the Advancement of Judaism (SAJ).

Irma Rothschild Jung

Irma Rothschild Jung, a native of Randegg, Baden, Germany, was born on July 1, 1897, and until her death close to a century later, dedicated her substantial energies to pioneering Jewish communal programs in aid of the needy. Her leadership and influence were deeply felt in the broader Jewish community by the countless individuals, young and old, who benefited from her generous spirit.

Norma Baumel Joseph

Orthodox feminist Norma Baumel Joseph has published widely on Jewish women and on feminism. Her activism in Canada is largely focused on Orthodox Judaism, and she is highly regarded as an expert on Jewish women and on feminism.

Women, Music, and Judaism in America

This article emphasizes American Jewish women’s multivalent musical choices from the eighteenth through the twenty-first centuries. In doing so, it acknowledges that mainstream Jewish liturgical, educational, art, and “popular” music histories often exclude or minimize women’s participation—as does the very term “Jewish music.” Instead, this article focuses on Jewish-identifying women’s activities in both religious and non-religious settings, rather than seeking to classify the music they create.

Jewish Feminism in the United States

Challenging all varieties of American Judaism, feminism has been a powerful force for popular Jewish religious revival. The accomplishments of Jewish feminists have transformed American Jewish life, even as the ultimate goal of gender equity and shared power has yet to be fully realized.

Gertrude Hirschler

A celebrated translator of deft skill and a woman of great principle, Gertrude Hirschler refused to translate, edit, or publish any book that did not mesh with her ideals or beliefs. Hirschler’s literary contributions are highly regarded in the areas of Jewish history, the Holocaust, religious literature, and Zionism.


Hasidism is a spiritual revival movement associated with the founding figure of Israel Ba’al Shem Tov (Besht, c. 1700–1760). Although some have depicted the movement as nothing less than a “feminist” revolution in early modern Judaism, in actuality the Hasidic movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries conceptualized gender in conventional terms drawn unquestioningly from the classical rabbinic, philosophical, and kabbalistic sources.

Hasidic Women in the United States

Hasidic women belong to various sects of Judaism’s most religiously observant and traditional communities. Postwar Hasidism took root and thrived in many U.S. cities; while women remain dedicated to domestic responsibilities, with large family sizes and a high birth rate, many also work outside the home and/or are college-educated religious activists. .

Blu Greenberg

Blu Greenberg is known as the mother of Orthodox feminism and is author of On Women and Judaism: A view from Tradition. She coined the phrase “Where there’s a rabbinic will, there’s a halakhic way,” demanding that rabbis find systemic solutions to help women who feel trapped by aspects of halakhah. Greenberg is a fierce advocate for agunot, women trapped in unwanted marriages.

Rebecca Fischel Goldstein

The quintessential rebbetzin [rabbi’s wife], Rebecca Fischel Goldstein was a prime mover in her husband’s drive to build the Institutional Synagogue and make it a center of Jewish life in Harlem. As a consummate volunteer leader, she strove to make women a dominant force in organized Jewish life.

Jane Brass Fischel

An outstanding communal leader in New York City’s Orthodox Jewish community in the early twentieth century, Jane Brass Fischel was a generous philanthropist and active participant in Jewish communal activities.

Rabbi Moses Feinstein

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, one of the great Jewish legalists of the twentieth century, wrote numerous legal decisions responding to and affecting women’s lives. His pronouncements regarding women aimed to respond to women’s issues with respect and careful consideration, while also establishing a system in which the roles of men and women were distinctly imbalanced.

Blanche Goldman Etra

Blanche Goldman Etra opened doors to independence and education for other women by founding women’s divisions of medical schools and women’s seminars on financial planning. A woman of high intelligence and great energy, characterized by a strong sense of integrity and morality, Etra set out to use her considerable talents for the betterment of the Jewish and general communities.

Community Dance Practices in the Yishuv and Israel: 1900-2000

Women have been at the forefront of preserving community dance practices in Israel. In the 1970s Gurit Kadman worked with ethnomusicologist Dr. Esther Gerson-Kiwi to collect, document, and study ethnic music and dance practices in Israel. Eventually elements of ethnic dances were incorporated into the canon of Israeli folk dance.

Education of Jewish Girls in the United States

American Jewish girls have had access to a broad range of educational opportunities. Pioneering innovations such as the Hebrew Sunday school opened doors to religious education, while in public schools, training schools, and the hallways of higher education, American Jewish girls pursued secular studies as well. Today, the landscape for American Jewish education has expanded beyond the classroom to include a range of experiential educational opportunities.

Colonial Period in the United States

Jewish women in colonial America led varied lives, with some occupying traditional roles as mothers and wives and others remaining single. Some ran their own businesses and others worked as servants for Jews with more money. Both in and out of the synagogue, women played a crucial role in early American Jewish communities.

Caribbean Islands and the Guianas

Women were among the earliest settles in the Dutch and English Caribbean. Early Caribbean Jewish women, despite living in patriarchal societies, still managed to engage in public pursuits. As Caribbean Jewish communities became increasingly racially blended over time, women of color became some of the most definitive architects of distinctly Creole Caribbean Jewry.

Rayna Batya Berlin

Rayna Batya Berlin was a Lithuanian woman committed to religious study who argued that women should be able to study the Torah and the Talmud. The only source of her life was written by her nephew, who describes her frustration with her subjugated status in her community and how she generally suffered in silence.

Hinde Bergner

Hinde Bergner holds a special place in Yiddish literature by virtue of the fact that her memoir of family life in a late nineteenth-century Galician shtetl is one of few extant Yiddish memoirs to describe the traditional Jewish family on the edge of modernity from the perspective of a woman. Her intimate portrayal of her life results in a valuable source for Jewish social, family, and women’s history.

Bat Mitzvah: American Jewish Women

When Judith Kaplan Eisenstein became the first American girl to mark her bat mitzvah on March 18, 1922—two years after women were guaranteed the right to vote in the US—she recalled “shock[ing] a lot of people,” especially her disapproving grandmothers. Today, American girls across the Jewish spectrum, from secular to ultra-Orthodox, mark their coming-of-age in various forms.


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