Politics and Government

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Gill Marcus

After the African National Congress was unbanned in South Africa in 1990, Gill Marcus quickly became a central figure in the party, helping to build a communications infrastructure in preparation for the transition to democracy. She was later elected to Parliament, where she served as the Deputy Finance Minister in 1996 and then Deputy Governor of the South African Reserve Bank in 1999.

Ada Maimon (Fishman)

One of the “spiritual mothers” of Jewish feminism in Israel, Ada Maimon founded the women's labor organization, Mo'ezet Ha-Po'a lot, and served in the first Knesset. In each of her many positions, she viewed her role as being a religious and spiritual one.

Sadie Loewith

Sadie Loewith was an early twentieth-century teacher, businesswoman, active Republican Party worker, chairperson, organizer, and politician of high repute.

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 contributed greatly to both the labor movement and the anarchist movement as aide and confidante to major figures like Emma Goldman and Samuel Gompers, though her work was largely uncredited and behind the scenes.

Senta Josephthal

Senta Josephthal was German-born Zionist activist who was particularly influential in the kibbutz movement. She trained and recruited young Germans to the movement and represented the kibbutz movement in national organizations and political arenas after emigrating to Palestine.

Lotte Jacobi

After leaving Nazi Germany in 1935, Lotte Jacobi became a renowned photographer in New York as she captured intimate portraits of prominent Americans such as Robert Frost, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Paul Robeson. Jacobi was highly interested in politics and an active delegate to the Democratic National Convention. She was known for engaging her subjects in rich conversation as she photographed them.

Herodian Women

The Herodian dynasty produced a large number of seemingly impressive women, whose stories are recorded in Josephus’ writings. This article summarizes the lives of Cyprus (I), Pheroras’ Wife, Doris, Mariamme, Glaphyra, Berenice (I), Herodias, Salome (II), Cyprus (II), and Drusilla.

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

Politically active from a young age, Haika Grosman played a key role in the underground resistance to Nazi occupation and the Holocaust and put her safety on the line in the name of the movement.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a unique figure in the history of American law, and indeed, of the twentieth-century women’s rights movement. The founder of the American Civil Liberties Union Women’s Rights Project in 1972, she was confirmed for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in 1980 and became the first Jewish woman on the Supreme Court in 1993.

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. Serving as Lieutenant Governor from 2000 until 2006, Freeman made her mandate the redefinition and democratization of the largely ceremonial office. In 2003 she was named First Honorary Captain (Navy) of Maritime Forces Atlantic, Her Majesty’s Canadian Forces.

Sheila Finestone

Senator Sheila Finestone was an important figure in Canadian parliamentary history, founding the Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians for the Inter-Parliamentary Union. She took up issues including human rights and served as president of the Quebec Federation of Women. A cornerstone of Canadian Jewish history, Finestone dedicated her life to advocacy and activism.

Bobbi Fiedler

When Los Angeles announced plans in 1976 to desegregate schools by busing students, Bobbi Fielder was inspired to enter politics. She served on the Los Angeles Board of Education, where she quickly overturned the busing initiative, and subsequently served three terms in the House of Representatives. After losing a Senate race, Fielder withdrew from politics and became a consultant.

Dianne Feinstein

Dianne Feinstein, former mayor of San Francisco and United States senior senator from California since 1992, is a political pioneer and the oldest sitting U.S. senator. Throughout her career, Feinstein has earned a reputation as a leader, reformer, and principal member of the Democratic Party.

Elinor Caplan

Elinor Caplan is a Canadian Liberal Party politician who spent a quarter-century in elected office. She was the first Jewish woman to serve as cabinet minister at the provincial and federal levels. Caplan served as a Member of Toronto’s Provincial Parliament for twelve years and in 1997 she was elected to federal parliament.

Barbara Boxer

Elected to the Senate in 1993, Barbara Boxer earned a reputation as a powerful voice for liberal causes by leading the charge on issues like sexual harassment, the Iraq War, and marriage equality. Boxer served on the Senate committees for science and technology and the environment, among others, and retired in 2017.

Mina Ben-Zvi

Mina Ben-Zvi was among the first women to serve in the military in Palestine, first as part of the British Auxiliary Territorial Service, then in local Zionist paramilitary organizations that eventually became the Israeli Defense Forces. She became the first commanding officer of the IDF’s Women’s Corps in 1948.

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.

Athaliah: Bible

Queen Athaliah lived in the ninth century B.C.E. and was the wife of Jehoram of Judah. After her son’s brief rule, she kills the remaining members of the dynasty and reigns for six years, when she is overthrown. She is viewed negatively in scripture, which describes her actions as wicked, and her ability to harness power is not mentioned.

Athaliah: Midrash and Aggadah

Athaliah was one of the few women to rule Israel, which she did for six years. She was very powerful and is described as evil, as she radically changed traditional practices and executed almost all of the members of the Davidic lineage.

Election Activism with RI’s Margie Klein

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?

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

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

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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