Law

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Elizabeth Blume Silverstein

Elizabeth Blume Silverstein’s long and productive life revolved around her work in criminal law, real estate management, and Jewish life.

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.

Fanny E. Holtzmann

Fanny E. Holtzmann was a middle child in a family of seven children. Born in Brooklyn to Henry and Theresa Holtzmann, she grew up ignored by her busy family. Her close relationship with her maternal grandfather was crucial in encouraging Fanny, once labeled the “class dunce,” to complete three years of high school and enroll in night classes at Fordham University’s law school. During the day, she worked as a clerk for a theatrical law firm. The only woman to graduate in her law class of 1922, she opened her office half an hour after passing the bar.

Elizabeth Holtzman

A member of the generation that came of age in the 1960s, Elizabeth Holtzman has pursued a public career epitomizing some of the most important trends in postwar American and Jewish life. In her successive roles as a congresswoman, Brooklyn district attorney, and comptroller of New York City, she emerged as an effective and activist public servant, a forceful campaigner, and a champion of liberal and feminist causes. Her career illustrates the recent empowerment of ambitious, highly motivated, professional young women and the increasing role of Jewish figures in electoral politics. In addition, she has been a dedicated Jew, with a highly regarded record of communal commitment and achievement.

Gertrude Himmelfarb

Gertrude Himmelfarb has dedicated her long and noted career as a historian of ideas to the study of nineteenth-century Britain, an intellectual commitment that has been guided by a profound identification with the moral atmosphere of the Victorian era. Since earning her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1950, Himmelfarb has maintained that the Victorian experience offers unique insights and lessons, immediate and even imperative, for the problems that haunt the modern world. In the 1950s, it was the specter of totalitarianism; in the 1990s, the plight of American inner cities.

Health Activism, American Feminist

American women have been the “perennial health care reformers.” According to Carol Weisman, professor of Health Policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health: “Activism around women’s health has tended to occur in waves and to coincide with other social reform movements, including peaks in the women’s rights movements.” At all of those pivotal moments, Jewish women have played central roles.

Jane Harman

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Smith College in 1966, Jane Harman graduated from Harvard Law School in 1969 and became a member of the bar in the District of Columbia. She has two children, Brian Frank and Hilary Frank, from her nine-year first marriage to Richard Frank. She also has two younger children, Daniel Geier Harman and Justine Leigh Harman, with her husband Sidney Harman, an audio equipment manufacturer, whom she married in 1980.

Frances Wolf

Of the approximately eighty women who were instrumental in opening up the legal profession for women in the United States, Frances Wolf was the first Jewish woman in that very select group.

Marguerite Wolff

Marguerite Wolff was an exception among women scholars in Germany in the first three decades of the twentieth century. Although she neither studied formally at any university nor received other scientific training, she built a scientific institute, the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Foreign Public Law and International Law, in Berlin. She not only herself became an expert in law, but also engaged in research and translation.

Rosalie Loew Whitney

In 1901, Rosalie (Rose) Loew became acting attorney in chief of the New York Legal Aid Society. She was the first woman to hold that post.

Lorraine Weinrib

A professor at the University of Toronto, Weinrib is one of Canada’s foremost authorities on constitutional law.

Elga Ruth Wasserman

Herself a recipient of a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Harvard in 1949 and a J.D. from Yale in 1976, chemist Elga Wasserman is best known for overseeing the entrance of the first coeducational class at Yale College in 1969.

Käte Wallach

After graduating in library science Käte Wallach also passed the bar examination of Wisconsin in 1942 and was admitted at court. For four years she worked as a lawyer in Washington, D.C., first for the Office of Price Administration and later for the National Labor Relations Board.

Simone Veil

Simone Veil is arguably the one person most responsible for advancing women’s legal rights in France during the twentieth century. As her country's first female Minister of Health, Veil fought against great opposition to have a woman's right to an abortion enshrined in French law. She went on to become the first woman—and the first Holocaust survivor—to be appointed president of the European Parliament.

Dorothy Straus

Over the course of her life, Dorothy Straus was active as a lawyer, college lecturer, Democrat, member of the League of Women Voters, and member of several municipal and state government committees. In her writings, public statements, and activities, she demonstrated a commitment to efficient, socially active government policies, especially regarding the protection and advancement of women.

Tova Strasberg-Cohen

During her tenure as a justice on the Israeli Supreme Court, Tova Strasberg-Cohen became known for her groundbreaking decisions regarding civil law and women's equality.

Edith I. Spivack

A leading member of the Law Department of the City of New York for seventy years, Edith Spivack served as a pioneer female lawyer and a role model for generations of women.

Bertha Solomon

Bertha Solomon was one of the first women’s rights activists in South Africa. At first as a practicing advocate of the Supreme Court and then during her long career in parliament, she was indefatigable in her fight for women to be treated as equals in the eyes of the law.

Norma Levy Shapiro

Once, following a landmark decision in a prisoners’ rights case, U.S. federal judge Norma Levy Shapiro was described by a detractor as Philadelphia’s “Public Enemy Number One.” Her many advocates argued that her opinions were merely guided by the law. Such have been the dichotomous views regarding the difficult, often divisive, legal and social issues decided by senior members of the federal judiciary, such as Shapiro.

Gabriela Shalev

Gabriela Shalev, one of the outstanding Israeli academicians in the field of law, has instructed innumerable students in the intricacies of contract law, on which she has published and lectured in the light of her own analyses and theories.

Adolphine Schwimmer-Vigeveno

In 1935, a bill prohibiting the employment of married women which was introduced in the Dutch parliament caused a dispute in the Joodsche Vrouwenraad, the Jewish Women’s Council in the Netherlands. After closely considering the issue, the president of the Jewish Women’s Council, Adolphine Schwimmer-Vigeveno deduced that, since care for the family was not a woman’s sole responsibility, the council could not subscribe to the bill.

Tova Sanhadray-Goldreich

Tova Sanhadray, chairwoman of the Emunah organization and the first woman member of the Lit. "assembly." The 120-member parliament of the State of Israel.Knesset to represent the National Religious Party, is regarded as a pathbreaker, since she began her public activity in Israel at a time when the participation of religious women in public life was not yet considered acceptable.

Else Rahel Samulon-Guttmann

Else Samulon, a feminist active in the German women’s movement, was born on September 20, 1898, in Graudenz, Germany (now Grudziadz, Poland), which is located on the banks of the Vistula, some fifty miles south of Gdansk (Danzig).

Saviona Rotlevy

Renowned for her outstanding contribution to the advancement of children’s rights and those of women, Saviona Rotlevy was born in Ramat Gan, Israel, on October 7, 1941.

Lillian Rock

Lillian Rock had great energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and willingness to give money and time to the causes that concerned her: equality for women, advancement of the poor, and Jewish organizations.

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