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Philanthropy and Volunteerism


I am the President of a nonprofit, Serving Spoons, that prepares and delivers healthy, home-cooked meals to families in need. I accepted this leadership position nearly five years ago, and though I expected to encounter challenges due to my age, I felt confident I could convince the other industry professionals to take me seriously if I demonstrated maturity, responsibility, and commitment to my organization. Yet one of the greatest challenges, as I soon discovered, wasn’t my mere fourteen years, but rather my identity as a female.

Enid Shapiro, 1925 - 2017

Two months before my mother died, her doctor stopped the chemotherapy and she rallied. In true Enid Shapiro style, my mom took the opportunity to attend an evening board meeting of The Right Question Institute (RQI), asking her caregiver/driver to stop on the way so she could pick up cheese and crackers to bring to the meeting. She cherished her place on the board, having joined it in her mid-80s and seeing the organization as an opportunity to promote one of her most valued ideals—democracy.

Judith Rodin

In 1994 Judith Seitz Rodin became the first permanent woman president of an Ivy League school when she took the helm of the University of Pennsylvania.

Acting Our Age with Susan Goodman

While her life’s work is a testament to her commitment to helping people grow older with dignity, respect, and independence, Susan Goodman’s latest project is remarkable in both its scope and specificity. Currently, in order to be interviewed on Susan’s blog Acting Our Age, you must be a woman 85 or older.

Marjorie Fisher

Marjorie Switow Fisher found inventive ways to improve children’s lives, from funding mobile dental clinics to using summer jobs as an opportunity for career training. Fisher majored in art at Marjorie Webster Junior College and graduated at the top of her class.

Angelica Berrie

A lifelong philanthropist, Angelica Berrie has helped transform the world by funding causes ranging from religious tolerance to nanotechnology.

The Other JWA

JWA made a startling discovery recently: we have a doppelgänger. Okay, that’s not quite accurate. Perhaps it would be better to say that our URL,, has a near-doppelgänger: Who was this mysterious British JWA, we wondered? We soon found out that the British JWA stands for Jewish Women’s Aid. It’s an organization that supports Jewish women affected by domestic violence.

Saturdays with Rhoda

Almost every Saturday for the last five years, I’ve gone to visit my friend Rhoda Nissenbaum. We read together and talk, along with my mother and Rhoda’s aide, Sarah. What started as my Bat Mitzvah project has blossomed into a beautiful friendship.  Fortunately, I was able to record my recent meeting with Rhoda, and we got a chance to talk about her life, all 97 years of it! 

Ellen Odetta Cuffe

Ellen Odette Cuffe, Lady Desart, was celebrated as the most important Jewish woman in Irish history for her boundless philanthropy and political acumen.

Mary Gendler

Mary Loeb Gendler has helped shape social justice movements in indirect but effective ways, from crafting new rituals for Jewish feminists to helping Tibetan exiles leverage the tools of nonviolent protest.


How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Philanthropy and Volunteerism." (Viewed on March 20, 2018) <>.


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