Labor Rights

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Poland: Interwar

Like every other historical analysis of interwar Polish Jewry, the story of Jewish women is a story interrupted tragically by the destruction of Polish Jewry in the Holocaust. Many of the trends discussed above had just begun to make their mark on the nature of that three million strong community. Nevertheless, they are still deserving of scholarly attention. Unless and until the missing fifty-two percent of Polish Jews are factored into the historical narrative, that story will remain incomplete.

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

Women’s organizations have been at the forefront of the struggle for women’s equality in Israel. In the early years of Israel’s statehood, they played an active role in providing women with essential services such as child-care and vocational training. In later years they concentrated on the struggle for gender equality, employing educational and political strategies.

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 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. 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.

Helene Khatskels

In its commitment to socialism, diaspora Jewish nationalism, and Yiddish secular education, the life of the Yiddish pedagogue and writer Helene Khatskels closely reflects the history and ideals of the Jewish Labor Bund, which she actively supported. Her unfaltering devotion to her pupils, evident from both her own writings and writings about her, makes her stand out in the charged atmosphere of East European Jewish politics in the early twentieth century.

Kibbutz

As a secular and democratic community, the kibbutz—first founded in 1910—strove to implement egalitarian principles as expressed in the slogan: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” In addition, from the 1920s on, due to A voluntary collective community, mainly agricultural, in which there is no private wealth and which is responsible for all the needs of its members and their families.kibbutz women’s collective action, gender equality became part and parcel of the kibbutz movement’s normative discourse, a kind of “self-understood symbol of this classless society” (Bernstein, 1992; Fogiel-Bijaoui, 1992; Izraeli, 1992; Near, 1992; Reinharz, 1992).

Kibbutz Ha-Dati Movement (1929-1948)

Agricultural settlements based on the collective principles of the A voluntary collective community, mainly agricultural, in which there is no private wealth and which is responsible for all the needs of its members and their families.kibbutz were among the outstanding enterprises of the Zionist movement. While agricultural settlement was an important value in religious Zionism as well, those members of the religious Zionist movement who joined collective settlements constituted a unique group.

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.

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 was born on February 9, 1854, in the small town of Sappemeer, Netherlands, the eighth of eleven children of Abraham Jacobs, a country doctor, and Anna de Jongh. Her assimilated Jewish family maintained social and intellectual ties with other Jewish families in the area.

International Ladies Garment Workers Union

The International Ladies Garment Workers Union was founded in 1900. The eleven Jewish men who founded the union represented seven local unions from East Coast cities with heavy Jewish immigrant populations. This all-male convention was made up exclusively of cloak makers and one skirt maker, highly skilled Old World tailors who had been trying to organize in a well-established industry for a couple of decades. White goods workers, including skilled corset makers, were not invited to the first meeting. Nor were they or the largely young immigrant Jewish workers in the newly developing shirtwaist industry recruited for the union in the early years of its existence. But these women workers still tried to organize.

Beba Idelson

Beba Trachtenberg was born on October 14, 1895 in Yekaterinoslav (Dnepropetrovsk), Ukraine, then part of the Russian empire. Her parental home was poor and unattractive and the family lived in hardship, primarily because her father, Yitzhak, had no regular means of income. The Trachtenbergs provide a good example of the changes undergone by East European Jewry at the time. Beba’s mother, Rivka, was a pupil at the progymnasia, a kind of state junior high school. Her father, who was religiously observant, studied Lit. "teaching," "study," or "learning." A compilation of the commentary and discussions of the amora'im on the Mishnah. When not specified, "Talmud" refers to the Babylonian Talmud.Talmud but was also well-versed in the customs and practices of modern life. He sent his sons to heder and hired a private tutor for his daughters.

Histadrut Nashim Ivriot (Hebrew Women's Organization)

Though the Hebrew Women’s Organization was founded in Palestine only in 1920, a great deal of women’s activism preceded it by several years, both on A voluntary collective community, mainly agricultural, in which there is no private wealth and which is responsible for all the needs of its members and their families.kibbutzim and in cities and settlements. The years after World War I and the Balfour Declaration, which followed the British takeover of Palestine from the Turks, were the beginning of a new era in the building up of Palestine. The Zionists felt in their bones that two thousand years of exile were coming to an end, and in this thrilling atmosphere set to work to build the national homeland.

Historians in the United States

American Jewish women have been prominent within the historical profession. Indeed, many have been on the cutting edge of historical scholarship since the 1960s. In particular, Jewish women were at the forefront of developments within social history and in the creation of women’s history. While women generally, and Jewish women in particular, rarely made careers as historians in the first half of the twentieth century, Jewish women represented a significant proportion of academic historians both in American and European history as discrimination against Jews and prejudice against women lessened in the decades after World War II. Perhaps because of their sensitivity to the situation of powerless groups, most of them focused their attention not on traditional power elites but rather on those social groups traditionally ignored by academic historians: ordinary people, workers, peasants, minority groups, Jews, and especially women. They helped create, and were influenced by, new trends in historical scholarship that favored the study of such groups.

Dorothea Hirschfeld

Too old, lacking an appropriate educational background, of unsuitable family background, a member of the Social-Democrat Party and—worst of all—a woman, Dorothea Hirschfeld, a Jew without any legal training, nevertheless succeeded in entering the civil service at the age of forty-three. In 1919 she was the only woman among twenty candidates recommended for a position at the newly founded Reich Ministry of Employment and, a year later, the only one appointed as ministerial adviser.

Jenny Hirsch

Born to an impoverished Jewish family, Jenny Hirsch became very involved with the German women’s movement as a writer and editor. She served both as secretary and editor of the monthly journal for the Lette Society, an alliance of German associations related to women’s work.

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