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Reproductive Rights

Bessie Louise Moses

Gynecologist, professor, and family planning pioneer, Bessie Louise Moses spent a long professional life as a public health advocate and women’s health specialist.

Lena Levine

Lena Levine was born in Brooklyn, New York, on May 17, 1903, the youngest of seven children of Sophie and Morris Levine, Jewish emigrants from Vilna, Lithuania. Educated at Girls High School in Brooklyn, Hunter College, and Bellevue Hospital Medical College, Levine graduated in 1927, married fellow student Louis Ferber, and established a private practice in obstetrics and gynecology in Brooklyn. A daughter, Ellen Louise, was born in 1939, followed three years later by a son, Michael Allen, who developed viral encephalitis in infancy and was left severely retarded. Tragedy struck again in 1943 when Louis Ferber died of a heart attack.

Madeleine May Kunin

The specifics of Madeleine May Kunin’s life, as she herself states in her autobiography, Living a Political Life (1994), hardly suggest a typical governor of Vermont: “As a feminist, an immigrant, and a Jew, I was perhaps too different from the average Vermont voter, yet it was this identity that inspired me to enter public life and shaped my values.”

Matilda Steinam Kubie

Matilda Steinam Kubie directed her energies toward the support and growth of charitable institutions that sought to better the lives of those in the Jewish community. She helped many organizations extend their reach through her leadership and her savvy use of advertising.

Régine Karlin-Orfinger

Régine Karlin’s resistance activities would alone have warranted esteem and recognition, but she did not desist from further work. Totally bilingual in French and Dutch and even polyglot, since she was also proficient in both English and Russian, she had a brilliant career as a lawyer, characterized by her militant and unwavering support of causes that she considered just.

Rachel Kagan (Cohen)

Kagan’s Knesset career was studded with important legislative achievements and contributions. As a member of the First Knesset she initiated deliberation in 1951 on the Law of Family and the Equality of Women, a very detailed bill dealing with the broad issues of equality of the sexes in society and in the family.

Aletta Henriette Jacobs

A pioneer in many realms—birth control, women’s suffrage, peace activism, and envisioning a wider future for women—Aletta Henriette Jacobs was born on February 9, 1854, in the small town of Sappemeer, Netherlands, the eighth of eleven children of Abraham Jacobs, a country doctor, and Anna de Jongh. Her assimilated Jewish family maintained social and intellectual ties with other Jewish families in the area.

Bertha Beitman Herzog

Bertha Beitman Herzog was an active participant in local and national women’s associations in Cleveland, Ohio. From 1928 to 1930, Herzog served as the first woman president of the Jewish Welfare Federation (later the Jewish Community Federation) in Cleveland and received the Charles Eisenmann Award for outstanding community service in 1941. She helped create several local organizations for Jewish women, including the Cooperative League of Jewish Women’s Organizations of Cleveland (later the Cleveland Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations), which she chaired in 1926. Herzog presided over the local Council of Jewish Women (CJW), later the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), Cleveland Section, from 1920 to 1924, and served as women’s cochair for the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Esther Herlitz

A staunch Zionist and dedicated volunteer, born in Berlin on October 9, 1921, Esther Herlitz inherited many of her admirable traits from her beloved “Yekke” parents. Her father, Georg Herlitz (1885–1968), was born in Oppeln, a small town in Upper Silesia, into a totally assimilated Jewish family and received a typical Prussian education. However, since his parents could not afford to send him to university, he registered—with the help of the local rabbi—at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin, a center for the scientific study of Judaism and a rabbinical seminary. Here the liberal Jewish administration awarded him a stipend and here, also, both his studies and the Zionist movement introduced him to a new world. Returning home, he led the first [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:377]Passover[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:391]seder[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] ever held in the history of the family and when he resumed studies, this time at the University of Berlin, he became an ardent Zionist activist. On completing his studies in 1919, he refused to become a rabbi and instead founded the Central Zionist Archive. When the Zionist Federation, which was interested in influencing the local Jewish community, asked him to infiltrate the city’s large 3,500-member Reform synagogue, Herlitz and his friends took on the role of wardens and replaced the rabbi with one who was a Zionist. His wife, Irma (née Herzka, 1888–1970), who came from a traditional home in Moravia and whose father was a melamed (teacher) of little children, hated what she perceived as the empty ceremonial of the Reform Jews, but Esther herself came to love it.

Ida Espen Guggenheimer

Born on December 8, 1866, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ida Espen Guggenheimer was the oldest child of Jacob and Fannie (Bachman) Espen. She had one brother, Frank, and two sisters, Hannah and Sophie. Her father and his brother were importers of lace. She was educated at the Friends School in Philadelphia and attended school in Dresden, Germany, when her family traveled in Europe.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Reproductive Rights." (Viewed on November 19, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/reproductive-rights>.

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