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Politics and Government

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Ada Maimon (Fishman)

One of the “spiritual mothers” and historians of Jewish feminism in Israel, Ada Maimon was a teacher by profession and a member of Ha-Po’el ha-Za’ir from 1913 to 1920. She was also one of the founders of Mo’ezet Ha-Po’alot, the General Council of Women Workers in Israel, and its secretary-general from its founding in 1921 to 1926. When she completed her term of office she founded Ayanot, a women’s farm near Nes Ziyyonah. With the establishment of the state, she served as a Mapai party member of the first and second Knessets and was responsible for the legislation of various laws related to women’s equality. Her public activity, together with her role as historian of the feminist movement in Israel, were part of a long, determined struggle on behalf of Jewish women in Israeli society and, even more pronouncedly, in the Jewish religion. This struggle led to frequent conflicts between Maimon and the leaders of the Histadrut and the Labor Party, as well as to arguments with representatives of the religious parties and the Israeli Orthodox establishment.

Sadie Loewith

“Politics makes strange bedfellows,” the adage states. Those “bedfellows” were joined by a feisty, strong, opinionated woman in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in the 1920s. She was Sadie Loewith, teacher, businesswoman, active Republican Party worker, chairperson, organizer, and politician of high repute. Her interests were many and varied, and her ability to lead and to elicit respect was unwavering.

Emma Levine-Talmi

Politician and writer, Emma Levine-Talmi, grew up in a liberal Jewish home in Warsaw before immigrating alone to Palestine in 1924 at the age of nineteen. She was active in Kibbutz life before becoming a member of Knesset for the Mapam party. During her time in the Knesset, she engaged in social issues, including, equal rights for women.

Lucy Fox Robins Lang

A committed anarchist by age fifteen, Lucy Fox Robins Lang participated actively in the labor and free speech movements of early twentieth-century America. She directed regional and national committees in support of persecuted anarchists, antiwar activists, and labor organizers, while earning her livelihood as a printer, waitress, vegetarian restaurant owner, and real estate broker. Eventually, she moved into the mainstream of the labor movement, becoming an adviser to and confidante of Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Although her focus shifted, the impulse behind Lang’s work remained constant.

Senta Josephthal

Senta Pundov was born in Fürth, a small town near Nuremberg in Germany, a city of ill-repute because it was the center of the Nazi movement and the site of its meetings. Both her parents and grandparents were born in Germany: her father, Ya’akov (d. Tel Aviv) and her mother, Hedwig (Wurburg 1884–Tel Aviv 1973), immigrated to Palestine in 1939.

Lotte Jacobi

In 1935, Lotte Jacobi rejected the Nazis’ offer to grant her honorary Aryan status and fled first to London and then to the United States, where she became one of America’s foremost portrait photographers.

Herodian Women

The Herodian dynasty produced a large number of seemingly impressive women. However, it is not always clear whether these women were really impressive or whether their literary portrayal made them so. We know that Nicolaus of Damascus, who was Herod’s court historian, was deeply interested in domestic affairs and assigned to women a diabolical role in the turn of events. Even after his writings ceased, other court historians adopted some of his rhetorical techniques. We today know almost everything about these women from Josephus, who used Nicolaus and other sources in his writings.

Elinor Guggenheimer

Elinor Guggenheimer first toured New York City day nurseries as a member of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies during the 1930s. Horrified by what she saw, Guggenheimer began a lifelong crusade for improved and standardized child care facilities across the country, in addition to her work promoting women in public office.

Haika Grosman

Haika Grosman was born in Bialystok on November 20, 1919. She was the third and youngest child of Nahum (1890–1942) and Leah (née Apelbaum) Grosman (1891–Treblinka, August 1943), a member of a wealthy family imbued with Jewish tradition and culture, living in a city half of whose residents (about sixty thousand) were Jewish. Her father was a factory owner, from whom, she alleged, she inherited her looks: “short, blue-eyed, blond.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the first Jewish woman (and only the second woman) appointed to the United States Supreme Court.

Myra Ava Freeman

The first Jew to be appointed lieutenant governor of a Canadian province and the first woman to hold the office in Nova Scotia, Myra Freeman was born in St. John, New Brunswick, as were her parents, Anne Golda (Freedman) Holtzman (1916–1986) and Harry Holtzman (1912–2004).

Sheila Finestone

Senator Sheila Finestone, one of Canadian Jewry’s foremost parliamentarians, championed the protection of human rights for all Canadians throughout her career as a liberal politician.

Bobbi Fiedler

Retired Congresswoman Bobbi Fiedler of Northridge in Los Angeles considers herself “a very private person” who was “pushed into politics by necessity, not by plan.

Dianne Feinstein

Political pioneer, tough leader, crime fighter, reformer: These are some of the words that describe Dianne Feinstein, former mayor of San Francisco and United States senator from California since 1992.

Elinor Caplan

A successful Liberal Party politician, Caplan was born in Toronto, one of two daughters (the other is Carol Lou Hershorn Spiegel, b. 1946) of Samuel S. Hershorn, a manufacturer (b. Toronto, 1914), and Thelma (Goodman) Hershorn (b. Toronto, 1920), whose families had come to Canada from Russian Poland.

Barbara Boxer

Barbara Boxer is currently one of the most influential liberal political figures in the country, having served in the United States Senate since 1992. Her visibility especially flows out of her vocal commitment to feminist causes.

Mina Ben-Zvi

Born in Russia in 1909, Mina Rogozik arrived in Palestine together with her family in 1921. She studied at the Reali High School in Haifa and at New York University and joined the Haganah in 1933. In 1942, she was among the first sixty-six women to enlist in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) and served in Egypt as the commander (with the rank of captain) of a company comprising both Palestinian and British women.

Evangelyn Barsky

The forty-two-year-old assistant city solicitor of Wilmington, Delaware, was the first Republican woman appointed to a legal post and, with Sybil Ward, one of the first two women lawyers regularly admitted to practice in Delaware.

Athaliah: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis state that Athaliah was one of the four women who wielded the scepter, two of whom ruled over Israel (Jezebel and Athaliah) and two over other peoples (the heathen Semiramis and Vashti) (Esther Rabbah 3:2).

Athaliah: Bible

Queen Athaliah is the only woman in the Hebrew Bible reported as having reigned as a monarch within Israel/Judah.

Election Activism with RI’s Margie Klein

by  Jordan Namerow

We're really coming down the home stretch of the 2008 election campaign ... I can't believe that election day is less than one week away!  As many of us gear up to get to the polls (or send in our absentee ballots), Margie Klein -- activist, community organizer, and co-leader of the Righteous Indignation project -- is mobilizing young Jews across the U.S. to ensure that voter turnout is a record high.

Which "Jewesses with Attitude" would you support for President?

by Jewesses With Attitude

With the final presidential debate behind us, and the election fast approaching, many of us have begun to imagine how the world will change come November 5th. If you’re feeling too bombarded with Obama/McCain/Palin-saturated news feeds, we invite you to consider a different possibility: a Jewish woman as your president and vice-president.

Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen

by  Jordan Namerow

There is a new audio podcast on Nextbook of an interview with political activist and writer Alix Kates Shulman -- featured in JWA's online exhibit Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution -- about her first novel Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen. Click here to download or listen to the Nextbook podcast.

Getting Groped . . .and Busted

by  Michelle Cove

When I saw the footage of President Bush coming up behind German Chancellor Merkel and squeezing her shoulders, I have to say I was pretty horrified. Was it the most offensive thing I’ve seen Bush do? Not by a long shot. But the notion that he thought this was acceptable behavior was still disturbing. For many of us women, it also brought back a memory of having our space invaded by some jerky guy, being too surprised to do anything, and then regretting we hadn’t.

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