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Labor

Justine Wise Polier

Justine Wise Polier espoused an activist concept of the law and a rehabilitative rather than a punitive model of judicial process, she pioneered the establishment of mental health, educational, and other rehabilitative services for troubled children. She also took a leading role in opposing racial and religious discrimination in public and private facilities.

Pioneer Women in the United States

Pioneer Women, the Labor Zionist women’s organization in the United States—today called Na’amat—was officially founded in 1925. The new group sought to elevate the public profile of the halutzot (Zionist women pioneers) in the Yishuv (Palestine Jewish settlement community) and to help the pioneer women’s cooperatives in Palestine through American-based philanthropic efforts.

Rose Pesotta

Known primarily as one of the first female vice presidents of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), Pesotta saw her union organizing as an opportunity to fulfill the anarchist mandate “to be among the people and teach them our ideal in practice.”

Pauline Newman

Pauline Newman was a labor pioneer and a die-hard union loyalist once described by a colleague as “capable of smoking a cigar with the best of them.” The first woman ever appointed general organizer by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), Newman continued to work for the ILGWU for more than seventy years—first as an organizer, then as a labor journalist, a health educator, and a liaison between the union and government officials.

National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods

In 1913, the women of Reform Judaism, who were organized in independent, local synagogue sisterhoods founded in the 1890s and 1900s, united to create a national organization of women dedicated to religion. Reform Jewish women joined the American women of the era who established a host of voluntary associations to further various social and communal agendas.

Histadrut

In 1920, with the beginning of the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:306]British mandate[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] following World War I, a new workers’ organization, Histadrut ha-Ovdim ha-Clalit (the General Federation of Workers), was formed by the Jewish workers who immigrated to Mandatory Palestine. The Histadrut comprised men and women workers, both wage-earners and homemaker wives of Histadrut members. The Histadrut did not restrict its spectrum of activity, nor did it limit its scope of membership. Indeed, its charter declared that every working man and woman over the age of eighteen who lived by his or her own earnings and concurred with the policies of the Histadrut was eligible for membership.

Bessie Abramowitz Hillman

Bas Sheva Abramowitz (“Bessie” was created by an Ellis Island immigration officer) was born on May 15, 1889, in Linoveh, a village near Grodno in Russia. She was one of ten children born to Emanuel Abramowitz, a commission agent, and Sarah Rabinowitz. In 1905, Bessie, who spoke only Yiddish and some Russian, joined an older cousin in immigrating to America. Most 1905 immigrants fled czarist oppression and anti-Jewish violence, but Bessie reported that her aim in leaving home was to escape the services of the local marriage broker.

Lillian Herstein

The history of Jewish women in the American labor movement tends to focus on those whose careers unfolded in the needle trades. Such was not the case with Lillian Herstein, who was a teacher and a nationally known labor leader. Ethel Lillian Herstein, the youngest of six children, was born on April 12, 1886, in Chicago. Her parents, Wolf and Cipe Belle, emigrated from Vilkovishk, Lithuania, shortly after the U.S. Civil War, not only for economic reasons but because of Wolf’s admiration for Abraham Lincoln and his ideals.

Rose Wortis

Rose Wortis was an Eastern European immigrant needleworker who devoted her life to working-class organizing and the Left.

Working Women's Education in the United States

This article discusses the many types of education Jewish working women received, focusing on the 1910s through the 1930s, the height of the workers’ education movement in the United States.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Labor." (Viewed on December 16, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/labor>.

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