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Rebekah Bettelheim Kohut

Rebekah Bettelheim Kohut made her mark on the American Jewish community in the areas of education, social welfare, and the organization of Jewish women. Grounded in her Jewish identity as the daughter and wife of rabbis, Kohut had a public career that paralleled the beginnings of Jewish women’s activism in the United States.

Esther Loeb Kohn

“The great need today is for social inventions for the prevention of destitution and illness.” This statement, made in 1938, illustrates two of the primary interests of Esther Loeb Kohn’s life—social reform and medical social work. A thirty-year resident of Hull House, the famous Chicago social settlement founded by Jane Addams, Kohn was also an active volunteer and financial supporter of Jewish charitable organizations in Chicago.

Kindergartens in Palestine: First and Second Aliyah (1882-1914)

Today, it is impossible to conceive of a proper educational system that does not include kindergartens. But this was not the case in the late nineteenth century, when the earliest pioneers reached Palestine, began to establish agricultural settlements and laid the cornerstone for the country’s earliest educational institutions.

Helene Khatskels

In its commitment to socialism, diaspora Jewish nationalism, and Yiddish secular education, the life of the Yiddish pedagogue and writer Helene Khatskels closely reflects the history and ideals of the Jewish Labor Bund, which she actively supported. Her unfaltering devotion to her pupils, evident from both her own writings and writings about her, makes her stand out in the charged atmosphere of East European Jewish politics in the early twentieth century.

Chaile Raphael Kaulla

“Here rests a woman who was outstanding among her people and in her fatherland” is written on the gravestone of “Madame Kaulla” in the Hechingen Jewish cemetery. This refers to her charity as a wealthy and pious Jewish woman and to her significant achievements in serving the Grand Duke (later King) of Wuerttemberg and the imperial army (Reichsarmee). Chaile Raphael Kaulla was the most influential Jewish woman entrepreneur and one of the last Court Jews in eighteenth-century Germany.

Regina Kaplan

“Woman of valor” and “a tiny dynamo”—these phrases describe Regina Kaplan (nicknamed Kappy), nurse, teacher, hospital administrator, and health care innovator.

Gurit Kadman

Gurit Kadman earned fame as a pioneer of Israeli folk dancing. In Germany, she joined the Wandervogel, a youth movement that focused on German folk culture, and after she moved to Palestine she continued to learn, teach, and preserve Israeli folk dance.

Roza Shoshana Joffe

Roza Shoshana Joffe was born in Bristovka in the Yekaterinoslav province, “a distant village in the Ukraine where hatred and contempt for Jews reigned supreme.” Her mother, Duva (d. April 13, 1917), did not have the benefit of formal education but was nevertheless a woman of the book, who diligently read her children books from the family’s well-stocked library, taught them to read with the aid of dice games, and educated them in “the liberal ideology of justice, brotherhood and equality.”

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.

Tziporah H. Jochsberger

In March 1939, Tziporah Jochsberger’s musical talents won her acceptance to the Palestine Academy of Music in Jerusalem, good fortune that ultimately saved her life. Since then, Jochsberger has used her music to stir the Jewish soul.

Jewish Education in the United States

Among the traditions that Jews brought to America, one may include the diligent study of the Torah and honor to those distinguished in its study. Torah study and its public recognition, however, were restricted to men and, obviously, to those among them who had the means and talent to devote themselves to it.

Frances Wisebart Jacobs

There are sixteen stained-glass windows in the dome of Colorado’s state capitol, each one illustrating a pioneer who was an important influence on Colorado’s development. Among them is one woman, Frances Wisebart Jacobs.

Dore Jacobs

Dore Jacobs was the inventor of a little-known method of physical education which became a mode of resistance under Nazism and is still taught in Germany, in the very same place in which it originated eight decades ago.

Janie Jacobson

Combining her Jewish background with her skill and penchant for writing, Janie Jacobson succeeded as a biblical playwright. The children’s plays she authored were performed nationally.

Italy, Modern

The history of Italian Jews in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is essentially a story of social integration and embourgeoisement, with the exception of the years of Fascism, the racial laws (1938) and World War II. In Italy, each pre-unification state had a particular relation to its Jewish population, reflecting the strong regional differences that in many ways were maintained even after political unification in 1860.Even if the different realities of Italian Jewry were shaped by the history and the socio-cultural context in which they lived, some elements—such as the high degree of literacy among Jewish women and men—distinguished the Italian Jewish population in general. This literacy, which characterised nearly all Italian communities, with the exception of Rome, remained an advantage over the gentile population long after the barriers of the ghetto were pulled down.

Israeli Folk Dance Pioneers in North America

An intense desire to share the joy of dance coupled with a strong identification with both Israel and their Jewish roots profoundly affected a diverse group of North American Jewish women. Each added a dimension to the flourishing of Israeli dance activities in communities, including regional festivals, workshops, performing groups and weekly folk dance sessions. All were also involved in enriching Jewish education by training teachers and developing dance resources or programs.

International Ladies Garment Workers Union

The International Ladies Garment Workers Union was founded in 1900. The eleven Jewish men who founded the union represented seven local unions from East Coast cities with heavy Jewish immigrant populations. This all-male convention was made up exclusively of cloak makers and one skirt maker, highly skilled Old World tailors who had been trying to organize in a well-established industry for a couple of decades. White goods workers, including skilled corset makers, were not invited to the first meeting. Nor were they or the largely young immigrant Jewish workers in the newly developing shirtwaist industry recruited for the union in the early years of its existence. But these women workers still tried to organize.

Iraqi Jewish Women

“When Rachma had a son the well-wishers congratulated the family with ‘B’siman Tov’ [good fortune] and ‘Tesewihum Sab-a’ [may there be seven], but when she had a daughter they merely said ‘Mazal Tov’ [good luck], sometimes adding what were in effect words of sympathy, ‘Al-Hamd Lilah Ala Salamitha’ [thank God the mother is well] and ‘Ala Rasa Libnin’ [may boys follow her]” (Cohen 1973, 1996; Zenner 1982). Sons were preferred to daughters and this is still the case, though it is no longer expressed so openly. When Rachel gave birth in Israel to her first child, a girl, her parents-in-law decided to cancel their planned visit from America. Rachel commented “My in-laws may consider themselves educated and modern [they were born in America], but they behave as if they were living in Iraq.”

Holocaust Studies in the United States

Holocaust studies is a dynamic and diverse field of research that embraces various approaches toward the study of the Holocaust. Jewish American women have made critical contributions to this field in a variety of areas, including general history, women and gender, children, literary criticism, autobiography and biography, curriculum development, religious studies, sociology, psychoanalytic theory, biomedical ethics, and archive and museum curatorship. Jewish American women have contributed original research and have reshaped the way the Holocaust is studied through innovative theoretical and methodological approaches. They come to the study of the Holocaust as Jews, as women, and as Americans. With each of these roles and experiences they bring different concerns and questions. Some of these scholars are survivors or refugees or are the daughters of survivors or refugees. Some were born in the United States, some came to the United States during or after the war. Many have focused exclusively on the study of women.

Hilde Holger

Hilde Holger’s choreography incorporated her interest in religion, politics, and the natural world. Her works provoked important discussions about the role of dance in the public sphere.

Higher Education in Central Europe

Many more Jewish men than Jewish women received a higher education in Central Europe before the Nazi era, but once Swiss, and later Austrian and German, universities began admitting women, the proportion of Jewish women among the female student population remained at least twice as high as the proportion of Jewish men among male students.

Lina Frank Hecht

Born in 1848 in Baltimore to wealthy Bavarian immigrants, Lina Frank Hecht received a private education and moved in Baltimore’s elite Jewish circles. In 1867, she married Jacob Hecht (born 1834), who had immigrated to America in 1848, established a wholesale shoe business with his family in California, Baltimore, and Boston, and who, by the time he met Lina, was already a wealthy man. The couple moved to Boston and became leading members of the German Jewish philanthropic community. Uniquely in her time and society, Lina Hecht established her independent identity as a female philanthropist and social reformer.

Hebrew Teachers Colleges in the United States

During the early waves of immigration to the United States, Sephardi and German Jews established full-time schools in large population centers. Rabbis, clergy and predominantly European-trained male teachers provided religious instruction in private-school settings, often sponsored by and housed in synagogues.

Marion Hartog

Marion Hartog, editor of the first Jewish women’s periodical in history, was born in Portsmouth, England, the fourth of twelve children of Joseph Moss (c.1780–c.1840), profession unknown, and Amelia (c.1780–c.1850). Amelia Moss was the granddaughter of the founder of Portsmouth Jewish Congregation and the daughter of Sarah Davids, the first Jewish child born in Portsmouth.

Hadassah School of Nursing: First Graduating Class

Nursing was not recognized as a profession until 1918, when the American Zionist Medical Unit, which later became the Hadassah Medical Organization, opened a nursing school. The group of young women accepted for the first class included women from various areas and population groups in the country: immigrants from Eastern Europe and native-born women, daughters of orchard farmers, founders of the first moshavot and pioneers who, together with men, drained swamps and built roads. These new women students decided to learn a profession that would allow them to live independent lives and contribute to the country.

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