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Rita Charmatz Davidson

Rita Charmatz Davidson’s career in the Maryland court system was a series of hard-earned firsts, leading to her 1979 appointment as the first woman on the Maryland Court of Appeals, the highest judicial body in the state.

Lillian Copeland

Lillian Copeland was the epitome of a strong woman with a remarkable career, first as a record-setting Olympic medalist and later as an officer in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.


After the establishment of the Inquisition in 1478, observance of crypto-Judaism became dangerous and more difficult. Women were at the center of Judaizing efforts, since the home was the only remaining institution in which one could observe Jewish law. Crypto-Jewish women most frequently observed the Sabbath and dietary laws.

Felice Cohn

Felice Cohn was one of Nevada’s first women lawyers in the early twentieth century, an author of suffragist legislation in Nevada, and one of the first women allowed to argue before the United States Supreme Court.

Canada: From Outlaw to Supreme Court Justice, 1738-2005

The positive aspect of the Canadian mosaic has been a strong Jewish community (and other communities) which nurtured traditional ethnic and religious values and benefited from the talent and energy of women and men restrained from participation in the broader society. The negative aspect has included considerable antisemitism and, especially for women, the sometimes stifling narrowness and conservatism of the community which inhibited creative and exceptional people from charting their own individual paths.

Helen Lehman Buttenwieser

As a lawyer, Helen Lehman Buttenwieser fought to protect children in the foster care system. Throughout her life in the law she served as an important role model for many women attorneys.

Emilie M. Bullowa

As a lawyer and activist, Emilie M. Bullowa devoted her life to justice for the disenfranchised. Her colleagues, as well as many judges, respected her attitude as a woman in a field then dominated by men: She took pride in being a lawyer, rather than in being a female lawyer.

Jeanette Goodman Brill

As the first woman magistrate in Brooklyn and the second in New York, Jeanette Goodman Brill believed women had an aptitude and responsibility to judge cases involving women and children.

Birth Control Movement in the United States: 1912-1960

In the 1910s, Margaret Sanger began the family planning movement in the United States. While Sanger was not Jewish, Jews had an enormous impact on her activism, and her activism indelibly shaped the lives of Jewish women in America.

Clementine Bern-Zernik

A lawyer by training, Vienna-born Clementine Bern-Zernik produced broadcasts for the US Office of War Information in London during the war, served as the director of a Displaced Persons Camp in post-war Germany, and spent the last 50 years of her life as a UN liaison to the New York Public Library. Throughout her life she maintained a strong Austrian identity and was a founding member of the Austrian-American Federation.

Rebecca Thurman Bernstein

Rebecca Thurman Bernstein was lauded by local and national organizations for her efforts to improve health care, literacy, and Jewish life in Portland, Maine. Bernstein was proud of her Jewish heritage and worked for many Jewish causes, but her interests were not limited to or by her Jewishness.

Margarete Berent

Margarete Berent was the first female lawyer to practice in Prussia and the second female lawyer ever licensed in Germany. In 1925 she opened her own law firm in Berlin and, after fleeing Nazi Germany, opened her own firm in the United States. Not only was she the first female lawyer and the head of her own law firm, but she was also an ardent feminist and active in promoting opportunities for women.

Hadassa Ben-Itto

Hadassa Ben-Itto was a jurist and best-selling author. In addition to serving in multiple prestigious positions, she is best known for her book The Lie that Will Not Die: One Hundred Years of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (Hebrew, 1998).

Miriam Ben-Porat

Although Miriam Ben-Porat is perhaps best known as the first woman to be appointed an Israeli Supreme Court Justice, she also held many positions throughout her life, from state comptroller to professor and author. She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1976, where she made rulings characterized by both legal and non-legal elements and grounded in the principles of equality and good faith.

Ruth Ben Israel

Ruth Ben Israel was an Israeli legal scholar who specialized in labor law, social equality, and women’s legal rights. While a member of Tel Aviv University’s law faculty from 1986 until her retirement in 2005, Ben Israel wrote more than fifteen influential books on labor law and served as a legal advisor to multiple Knesset Committees related to labor and women’s rights.

Dorit Beinisch

Dorit Beinisch is one of only nine women appointed as justices in Israel’s Supreme Court before 2005. In her various public positions, Beinisch has paid special attention to corruption in government and ensuring that the government institutions (especially the military, the police force, and general security forces) remain subject to the dictates of law.

Evangelyn Barsky

One of the first two women allowed to pass the bar in Delaware, Evangelyn Barsky made a great impact on her community in her brief career.

Charlene Barshefsky

A determined advocate who earned the nickname “Stonewall” for her trade talks with Japan, Charlene Barshefsky was the primary negotiator who laid out terms for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001. She was also a powerful proponent of free trade in the Clinton administration, helping negotiate the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Jennie Loitman Barron

In her long career as a lawyer and a judge and in her lifelong work for women’s rights, Jennie Loitman Barron set many precedents for women in Massachusetts and across the United States.

Clarice Baright

Clarice Baright was one of the first women admitted to the American Bar Association and the second woman to become a magistrate in New York City. Despite many barriers, she had a distinguished career and was the first woman to try a case before an army court-martial.

Patricia Barr

Patricia Barr turned her personal struggles into a national cause as an advocate for breast cancer research and treatment. An “out-liar,” as she called herself, Barr became an activist in multiple worlds: breast cancer, feminism, Judaism, education, and the Israeli peace movement.

Elisheva Barak-Ussoskin

After earning her law degree in 1977, Elisheva Barak-Ussoskin quickly advanced through several positions before becoming a judge in the National Labor Court of Israel in 1995. Her rulings had a critical influence on the development of labor law and labor relations in Israel.

Australia: 1788 to the Present

The first Jewish women, like the first Jewish men, arrived in Australia on the very first day of European settlement in 1788. Those convict pioneers were followed by free settlers who made Jewish communal and congregational life viable and helped to develop the vast continent. Jewish women have made significant contributions to Australia's national story.

Edna Arbel

While Edna Arbel was a justice on Israel’s Supreme Court from 2004 to 2014, her career has been influential for decades. She served variously as a District Attorney, a Judge, and as State Prosecutor, and her courageous determination to combat both governmental corruption and rising violence not only placed her in the public limelight but at times also aroused considerable hostility.

Birdie Amsterdam

Birdie Amsterdam capped a career of firsts in the legal profession with her role as the first woman elected to the New York State Supreme Court. Over the course of her career, she volunteered for various organizations and causes, such as running a bond drive during World War II and serving as Tammany Hall district co-leader of the Manhattan Democratic Club.


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