Labor Rights

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Collection

Helene Simon

A groundbreaking pioneer in the theory and practice of social policy and social welfare in Germany, Helene Simon derived her philosophy and ideology from two seemingly disparate sources: her strictly Orthodox Jewish parental home and the leaders of the Fabian Society in London, especially Beatrice and Sidney Webb.

Mania Wilbushewitch Shochat

Zionist and socialist, radical and revolutionary, Mania Shochat left behind her labor activism in Russia to come to Palestine, where she initiated the country's first collective settlement and helped to establish the Jewish defense group Ha-Shomer.

Dominique Schnapper

Dominique Schnapper is a French sociologist who has devoted an important part of her work to an analysis of French Jews and Judaism, in particular in connection with the French model of citizenship, nation, and the republic.

Frances Raday

Frances Raday’s career as a leading human rights advocate, feminist academic, and litigator evolved on no less than three continents: starting in England, passing through Africa, and finally settling in Israel.

Hortense Powdermaker

Hortense Powdermaker explored the balance of involvement and detachment necessary for participant-observer fieldwork in cultural anthropology, stressing the ability to “step in and out of society.” Her secular Jewish identity was apparently a factor in learning this skill, exemplified in an academic career that included thirty years of college teaching and the writing of five major books based on widely diverse fieldwork studies.

Poland: Interwar

A minority habitually ignored by scholars, Polish-Jewish women played important roles in the changing cultural and political framework of the interwar years.

Anna Sophia Polak

Anna Polak was an important figure in the Dutch women’s movement in the early twentieth-century, who served as director of the National Bureau of Women’s Labor in The Hague for 28 years. Her controversial views on the importance of involving women in the working world led to her international recognition; she was beloved and admired by many.

Marion Phillips

As Chief Women’s Officer of the Labour Party, Marion Phillips was one of the most important figures in the campaign to free women from domestic drudgery at the beginning of the twentieth century. Her work brought a quarter of a million women into the Labour Party.

Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Israel, 1948-2000

While the earliest women’s NGOs in Israel focused on contributing their share to nation-building, today’s organizations advocate and practice feminism. Over the past few decades, they have grown in number, modified their strategies, and raised new issues, yet hurdles continue to undermine their influence.

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

The Mo’ezet Ha-Poalot was founded in 1921 as the women’s branch of the Histadrut, the General Federation of Workers in mandatory Palestine. In the name of women workers, the organization struggled for many years for equality in the eyes of the Histadrut, though it ultimately came to represent more broadly the interests of Jewish women in Palestine and Israel, including immigrants and housewives.

Theresa Serber Malkiel

Theresa Serber Malkiel fought for workers’ rights, becoming the first female factory worker to rise to leadership in the Socialist Party. Her book, published a year before the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, helped fuel public support to reform labor laws. In her later life, she shifted away from social activism and began a second career in adult education.

Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg was a socialist revolutionary known for her critical perspective. Born in Poland, Luxemburg had become an important figure in the world socialist movement by 1913. She argued against Lenin’s hierarchal conception of party organization, and against revisionism. Luxemburg was internationalist in orientation and unflinchingly dedicated to a radical democratic vision.

Käthe Leichter

A socialist feminist with a doctorate in political economy, Käthe Leichter was a prominent figure in “Red Vienna” during the interwar years. As a politician, labor organizer, and author, she dedicated her life to benefitting working-class women through social and political reform, and to the struggle against fascism.

Lucy Fox Robins Lang

A committed anarchist by age fifteen, Lucy Fox Robins Lang contributed greatly to both the labor movement and the anarchist movement as aide and confidante to major figures like Emma Goldman and Samuel Gompers, though her work was largely uncredited and behind the scenes.

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.

Anna Kuliscioff

Born in Russia but educated in Switzerland, Anna Kuliscioff became one of the key figures in Italy’s early socialist movement and was a feminist advocate who concentrated on poor women’s issues. In her later life, she helped publish a socialist periodical and hosted a prominent salon, often with her partner Filippo Turati.

Pati Kremer

Pati Kremer was one of the pioneers of the Jewish workers’ movement in Eastern Europe. Already an active member in the 1890s 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

Ida Klaus was an influential labor lawyer, advocating tirelessly for the rights of workers. She was solicitor of the National Labor Relations Board under Harry Truman, head of the New York Labor Department, and an arbitrator in the Long Island Railroad Strike.

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.

Kibbutz

Although the kibbutz was intended as an equalitarian, democratic utopia, attempts to achieve gender equality have been limited by traditional masculinities and male-controlled spheres and gender inequalities have persisted.

Helene Khatskels

As a member of the General Jewish Workers’ Bund, Helene Khatskels fought to realize socialist ideals about autonomy and liberation. As a Yiddish teacher and writer in Tsarist Russia and later the Soviet Union, she demonstrated a commitment to spreading and inspiring pride in Yiddish culture.

Kibbutz Ha-Dati Movement (1929-1948)

Beginning in 1929, the religious kibbutz (Kibbutz Ha-Dati) movement represented the confluence of progressive ideals of equality and collectivism and traditional customs of Judaism. As a result, women in the movement lived at a crossroads.

Rahel Katznelson

A thinker and teacher, Rahel Katznelson was one of the early activists in the Labor Movement and Mo’ezet ha-Po’alot in the Yishuv and Israel. She contributed greatly to the country’s emerging cultural life, laying stress on women’s participation within it.

Aletta Henriette Jacobs

A pioneer in many realms—birth control, women’s suffrage, peace activism, and envisioning a wider future for women—Aletta Henriette Jacobs began her career as the Netherland’s first women physician in 1879. She went on to participate in many women’s rights conferences and was a staunch anti-war activist, traveling to the Hague and the United States to advocate her position.

International Ladies Garment Workers Union

The International Ladies Garment Workers Union was founded in 1900 by eleven Jewish men who represented seven local East Coast unions with heavy Jewish immigrant populations. Initially excluded from the union, women began organizing and eventually developed bargaining power after the Uprising of the 20,000 in 1909.

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