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Labor

Mo'ezet Ha-Po'alot (Council of Women Workers)

Founded in 1921 following the establishment of the Histadrut (General Federation of Workers in Israel), the Mo’ezet ha-Po’alot (Council of Women Workers) was the elected apparatus of Histadrut women, subordinated to the Va’ad ha-Po’el, the executive committee of the Histadrut.

Theresa Serber Malkiel

Theresa Malkiel was an activist for labor, women’s rights, and especially socialism. In one of her many published articles, she wrote, “The socialist regime [is] the only true exponent of complete equality and political economic independence.” Theresa Serber Malkiel, one of four daughters, was born on May 1, 1874, in Bar, Russia. The Serber family immigrated to New York in 1891, and although she had been educated, Theresa worked in a garment factory. Within three years, she helped to found the Infant Cloak Makers’ Union.

Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg was one of the great Marxist theorists of the twentieth century; her radical conception of socialist democracy stands in opposition to both bolshevik authoritarianism and technocratic reformism. Born in the Polish city of Zamosc (75 km SE of Lublin), she grew up in an assimilated, middle class Jewish family. She learned German at home and, undoubtedly, a certain affinity for enlightenment ideals. Luxemburg would never join the famous Jewish socialist organization known as the Bund, and she was basically unconcerned with issues of identity. It was during her high school years that she met Leo Jogiches (1867–1919), who would play a central role in the history of continental socialism. They became youthful lovers, but even after the end of their romantic relationship, they would continue to work together. Her engagement with political issues began while she was still in high school as a member first of the Proletariat, the first socialist organization in Poland. Internationalist in orientation, concerned with building a mass base, it was decimated by the government following the strike wave of the 1880s. Luxemburg fled her homeland in 1887 and later enrolled in the University of Zurich, where she completed a dissertation on “The Industrial Development of Poland” (1898).

Käthe Leichter

Käthe Leichter was undoubtedly the foremost socialist feminist in “Red Vienna” during the interwar years. A Social Democratic politician, labor organizer and author, with a doctorate in political economy, she directed women’s affairs for the Viennese Chamber of Workers (Arbeiterkammer). In May 1938, before she had a chance to escape from Austria, Käthe Leichter was arrested by the Gestapo for illegal socialist activities; she was never released from imprisonment.

Lucy Fox Robins Lang

A committed anarchist by age fifteen, Lucy Fox Robins Lang participated actively in the labor and free speech movements of early twentieth-century America. She directed regional and national committees in support of persecuted anarchists, antiwar activists, and labor organizers, while earning her livelihood as a printer, waitress, vegetarian restaurant owner, and real estate broker. Eventually, she moved into the mainstream of the labor movement, becoming an adviser to and confidante of Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Although her focus shifted, the impulse behind Lang’s work remained constant.

Labor Movement in the United States

Jewish American women have played a central role in the American labor movement since the beginning of the twentieth century. As women, they brought to trade unions their sensibilities about the organizing process and encouraged labor to support government regulation to protect women in the workforce. As Jews who emerged from a left-wing cultural tradition, they nurtured a commitment to social justice, which would develop into what is often called “social unionism.” From their position as an ethnic and religious minority, as well as from their position as women, they helped to shape the direction of the mainstream labor movement.

Anna Kuliscioff

Russian revolutionary, internationalist, early feminist, doctor and one of the founding generation of Italian socialists, Anna Kuliscioff was born Anja Moiseevna Rozenstein, near Simferopol in the Crimea, between 1854 and 1857.

Pati Kremer

Pati Kremer, née Matla Srednicki, was one of the legendary pioneers of the Jewish workers’ movement in Eastern Europe. Already in the 1890s an active member of the so-called Vilna Group, the precursor to the Bund, she remained closely associated with the Jewish workers’ party until her death in the Vilna Ghetto.

Ida Klaus

Known by the press in the 1950s and 1960s as the woman “who thinks with a man’s brain,” Ida Klaus has distinguished herself in the area of labor law.

Carol Weiss King

Carol Weiss King was one of the outstanding practitioners of immigration law during the period bounded by the Palmer Raids and the McCarthy era. In her thirty-year career, she represented hundreds of foreign-born radicals threatened with deportation in administrative proceedings in the lower courts and in the Supreme Court.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Labor." (Viewed on May 21, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/labor>.

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