Politics and Government

Content type

The Belle of the (political) party

Judith Rosenbaum
By Elisabeth Israels Perry

On June 16, 2009, the National Jewish Democratic Council, a political advocacy group based in Washington, DC, is awarding its first "Belle Moskowitz" award to Ann F. Lewis, Hillary Clinton's Communications Director during her recent presidential campaign. As one of Moskowitz's seven grandchildren, but more particularly as a historian who wrote her biography, I was thrilled to find this out.

Emma Goldman Released from Jail and Then Reimprisoned

September 27, 1919

Emma Goldman was released from a two-year prison term, on September 27, 1919, only to be immediately reimprisoned.

Rose Schneiderman named officer of NY State Labor Party

July 16, 1936

At a meeting in the Hotel New Yorker on July 16, 1936, Rose Schneiderman was elected vice chairman of the New York State Labor Party.

Passage of NY widows' pension bill advocated by Hannah Bachman Einstein

April 7, 1915

On April 7, 1915, New York's Governor Charles S. Whitman signed the Widowed Mothers Pension Act into law.

Caroline Klein Simon sworn in as NY Secretary of State

January 1, 1959

On January 1, 1959, following Governor Nelson Rockefeller's inaugural address, his government appointees were sworn into office in a modest ceremony in the executive chamber of the New York Sta

Belle Moskowitz

Belle Moskowitz served for two decades as a settlement worker, social and civic reformer, and labor mediator. In the early 1920s she became one of New York governor Alfred E. Smith’s closest advisers.

Nita M. Lowey

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey used her position to fight for women’s health, public broadcasting, and support for Israel. In 2001, she became the first woman to chair the Democratic Congressional Committee.

Rosalind Wiener Wyman

Rosaline Wiener Wyman was the youngest person ever elected to the Los Angeles City Council and one of the youngest elected officials of a major United States city. After leaving the mayoral office in 1965, Wyman continued her involvement in political and public affairs.

Frieda Wunderlich

Frieda Wunderlich was a prominent economist and politician in Germany, serving in local government, writing books and articles, and lecturing when she was forced from her positions as a woman and a Jew in 1933. After leaving Germany, she became the only woman faculty member of the New School for Social Research in New York and went on to be the first woman dean of an American graduate school in 1939. She achieved international recognition for her research and publications on labor and social policy, including women’s work.

Jeanette Wolff

A well-known Social Democrat and Holocaust survivor committed to equal rights for women and sustained Jewish existence in Germany, Jeanette Wolff refused to compromise her socio-political beliefs. She was active in the SPD both before and after the war and served on the denazification committee in post-war Berlin .

Louise Weiss

Considered an architect of European unity, Louise Weiss is best known for her campaigns on behalf of the peaceful resolution of international conflicts during the interwar years and the Cold War. She also worked on behalf of Jewish refugee rights in the late 1930s and was a leading feminist activist who focused on obtaining the right for French women to vote.

Simone Veil

Holocaust survivor Simone Veil was a pioneer in the French government and the European Union. As Minister of Health, she presented and successfully argued the law decriminalizing abortion in France. She was the first woman to preside over the European Parliament and the fifth woman to be interred in the Panthéon.

Turkey: Ottoman and Post Ottoman

The Jewish population of Turkey navigated far-reaching changes in the political, social, and geopolitical spheres in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, as the Ottoman Empire pursued reform and collapsed and the Turkish Republic that took its place imposed a process of “Turkification” on its residents. During this period, Jewish women partook in traditional customs relating to religion, family, and the home, while also accessing new opportunities in the public sphere through education and political engagement.

Shelamziyyon Alexandra

Queen Shelamziyyon Alexandra ruled Judea in the 1st century BCE. During her reign, which was the only time a woman inherited the throne from her deceased spouse, she deposed the ruling party that had supported her husband. In the place of that party, she appointed the Pharisees, whose heirs portray her positively in the rabbinic literature they composed.

Romania, Women and Jewish Education

Since the adoption of a public school system in the mid-1800s in Romania, Jewish women in Romania women have had to fight anti-Semitism and sexism to pursue their education.

Dalia Raz

Dalia Raz was an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces who worked to redefine women’s role in the Israel Defense Forces. As an OC (Officer Commanding) in the IDF Women’s Corps, she worked to expand the types of duties women were able to perform while serving in the IDF and encouraged women’s participation across all sectors of the IDF’s operations.

Deborah T. Poritz

Deborah T. Poritz was New Jersey’s first female attorney general and in July 1996, she was sworn in as the first woman chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. She served in that position until she reached the compulsory retirement age of seventy in 2006.

Political Parties in the Yishuv and Israel

Women’s political parties have played an important, though to date poorly acknowledged, role in the social and political history of Israel. They had a significant impact on women’s participation in power center, political and other; they placed a major part in the struggle for women’s right to vote and to be elected; they raised the issue of violence against women, and much more.

Politics in the Yishuv and Israel

Institutionalized politics and a variety of factors—the politicization of women’s issues, the Israeli-Arab conflict, the impact of religion on the political arena, and the socio-economic structure—have resulted in both exclusion and inclusion of women in Israeli politics.

Anita Pollitzer

As a party organizer for the National Woman’s Party, Anita Pollitzer travelled across the country to earn crucial support for ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment granting American women the vote. Pollitzer was also a patron of the arts and a close friend of Georgia O’Keeffe: it was Pollitzer who showed O’Keeffe’s work to Alfred Stieglitz, jump-starting her career.

Nora Platiel

The Russian Revolution of 1917 made a convinced socialist of Nora Block and inspired her to study law. After leaving Nazi Germany for France and then Platiel, Platiel returned home, eventually becoming the first woman director of a German district court and being elected for three terms in the Hessian State Parliament.

Shoshana Persitz

Born in Russia to wealthy parents, Shoshana Persitz was a passionate Zionist and a leader in education reform. She operated a Hebrew-language publishing house in Russia before making Aliyah to Israel, where she continued in publishing and served three terms in the Knesset.

Ana Pauker

Born to an impoverished Orthodox family in Bucharest, Ana Pauker joined the Romanian communist movement in 1915. She rose through the ranks, becoming one of the most powerful Communist leaders in Romania after World War II and, according to Time magazine, “the most powerful woman alive.”

Elinor Morgenthau

Elinor Morgenthau’s accomplishments were largely invisible, as she helped her husband, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., rise to great heights in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration. Because of her sharp political and social skills, she often filled in for her husband, and eventually she became Eleanor Roosevelt’s assistant in the Office of Civilian Defense.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox