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Memoirs

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Roberta Peters

When Roberta Peters was just thirteen, famed tenor Jan Peerce suggested she take lessons to cultivate her amazing natural voice. Six years later, she made her debut on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera—and has been dazzling international audiences ever since.

Phoebe Yates Levy Pember

Phoebe Yates Levy Pember was a passionate Confederate and managed a hospital through the Civil War. Her memoir offers a window into daily life for acculturated Southern Jews and Jewish women in Christian high society in the South.

Rose Pesotta

Known primarily as one of the first female vice presidents of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), Pesotta saw her union organizing as an opportunity to fulfill the anarchist mandate “to be among the people and teach them our ideal in practice.”

Kadya Molodowsky

How can a Yiddish woman writer reconcile her art with Judaism’s definition of a woman’s role? Kadya Molodowsky’s answer to that question in her poems, children’s poems, novels, short stories, essays, plays, autobiography, and journalism, published between 1927 and 1974, evolved into even broader questions about the very survival of Jews in the modern world.

Annie Nathan Meyer

Annie Nathan Meyer promoted women’s higher education; chronicled women’s work; dramatized women’s status in plays, novels, and short stories; raised funds for Jewish and black students; wrote hundreds of letters to the editor; published art, drama, and music criticism; and championed physical activity and the outdoors.

Vladka Meed

Vladka Meed, whose given name was Feigele Peltel, was a member of the Jewish underground in the Warsaw ghetto from its first days. The daughter of Shlomo and Hanna Peltel, she was born on December 29, 1921 in Warsaw, where she became active in the Zukunft, the youth organization of the S.C., a strong Jewish socialist-democratic party, founded in 1897.

Fannie Hurst

Fannie Hurst was among the most popular and sought-after writers of the post–World War I era.

Lillian Hellman

Lillian Hellman was born on June 20, 1905, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her parents, Max and Julia (Newhouse) Hellman, were both German-American Jews. Her mother’s family was wealthy and later became the models (though stripped of Jewish identity) for Hellman’s most famous creations, the Hubbards, in her two plays The Little Foxes and Another Part of the Forest. Max Hellman’s sisters Hannah and Jenny were similarly the basis for the central characters in one of Hellman’s last plays, Toys in the Attic.

Aliza Greenblatt

Deep love for the Jewish people informed the life of Aliza Greenblatt, an American Yiddish poet and an early, committed leader in Zionist and Jewish women’s organizations. Greenblatt was among the first to organize the American Jewish community and raise funds toward the establishment of a Jewish national home. Many of her poems, which were widely published in the Yiddish press, were also set to music and recorded.

"The best goddamn madam in all America"

by  Judith Rosenbaum

I've been meeting a lot of interesting Jewish women lately. And all without leaving my computer! No, I'm not trolling JDate or chatrooms for a hot date (my life is complicated enough with a husband and two kids, thank you very much) -- I've been wandering through the couple thousand entries in the new online Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia! 

Miriam Shomer Zunser

Miriam Shomer Zunser, journalist, playwright, and artist, was an important promoter of Jewish culture in America during the period before World War II.

Berta Zuckerkandl

Journalist, art critic and salon hostess, Berta Zuckerkandl fought for nearly half a century for the recognition of modern Austrian art, cultural and political dialogue between Austria and France, and humanist causes.

Krystyna Zywulska

Krystyna ?ywulska published her war memoirs, Przezylam Oswiecim (I Survived Auschwitz), in which she does not mention her Jewish origin at all and presents herself as a Christian Pole (for example, she mentions receiving parcels and celebrating Christmas), although in several places she expresses sympathy for the plight of Jewish prisoners and victims. In 1963, however, she published another autobiographical novel, Pusta woda (Empty water), which covers an earlier period of her stay in the Warsaw ghetto and in which she speaks from her Jewish point of view.

Helen Yglesias

In 1965, Helen Yglesias joined the staff of The Nation and shortly thereafter became its literary editor. At age fifty-four, she left her job to dedicate herself to becoming a writer.

Helen Rosen Woodward

Helen Rosen Woodward is best known for her contribution to the world of advertising and is generally believed to be the first female account executive in the United States.

Charlotte Wolff

The pioneering Jewish lesbian feminist Charlotte Wolff was a physician by training, but later became a chirologist, psychotherapist, and sexologist, well known in both England and Germany.

Shelley Winters

Shelley Winters’s acting career ranged from a fairy in a local pageant at age four to the eccentric Grandma Harris on television’s Roseanne. She performed in over one hundred movies, fifty stage plays and countless television programs, and won two Academy Awards and an Emmy.

Annette Wieviorka

Annette Wieviorka, born in Paris on January 10, 1948, is undoubtedly the best-known of French historians of the Holocaust born after World War II.

Pauline Wengeroff

Pauline Wengeroff is the author of an extraordinary two-volume work in German, Memoirs of a Grandmother: Scenes from the Cultural History of the Jews of Russia in the Nineteenth Century (1910).

Anna Strunsky Walling

Anna Strunsky Walling, author, lecturer, and socialist activist, was born in Russia on March 21, 1879.

Salka Viertel

In 1908 Salka joined the Viennese company Neue Wiener Bühne as a principal actress.

Rahel Levin Varnhagen

Varnhagen is remembered in Jewish history as one of a handful of Jewish women who ran intellectual salons in Central Europe, especially Berlin, beginning in the relatively liberal period before the defeat of Napoleon.

Bessie Thomashefsky

Bessie Thomashefsky, Yiddish actor and comedian, delighted audiences for over thirty years with leading roles in New York, and later on tour throughout the United States, in London and in Toronto.

Nechama Tec

Nechama Tec's sociological work, informed by her experience as a Holocaust survivor, addresses the silences and inaccuracies surrounding the Holocaust and reveals untold stories of righteousness and rescue.

Margarete Susman

A writer whose works span the bridge between literature and theory, Margarete Susman's writings are as heterogeneous as her interests.

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