Content type

Esther Lederer becomes Ann Landers

October 16, 1955

Esther Pauline Friedman Lederer, writing as Ann Landers, had her first advice column published in the Chicago Sun Times on October 16, 1955.

Birth of "Grand lady of the southwest frontier" in New York City

September 10, 1857

Flora Langerman Spiegelberg, the "grand lady of the southwest frontier" was born on September 10, 1857.

Political trailblazer Belle Moskowitz wins passage of bill regulating NY dance halls

May 26, 1910

Born in New York City on October 5, 1877, Belle Moskowitz initially studied drama, hoping for a career on the stage.

Labor leaders announce their engagement at May Day Parade

May 1, 1916

Born in Russia in 1889, Bessie Abramowitz Hillman immigrated to Chicago at age 15 to escape an arranged marriage.

Death of Texan Jeanette Miriam Goldberg, organizer of Texas NJCW chapter & Jewish Chautauqua Society

February 28, 1935

Born in 1868 to Russian immigrant parents, Jeannette Miriam Goldberg grew up in Jefferson, Texas, at that time the sixth-largest town in the state.

Abigail Van Buren

In 1990 alone, advice columnist “Dear Abby” and her staff received over fifty-five thousand letters from men and women of all ages, classes, nationalities, sexual orientations, and religions. Born Pauline Friedman, Van Buren was best known for the witty, commonsense advice she gave hundreds of millions of readers.

Union of Jewish Women

Influenced by their American counterparts, Anglo-Jewish women organized a Conference of Jewish Women in 1902, which led to the foundation of a national organization, the Union of Jewish Women. The UJW determined the social service agenda for English Jewish women until World War I.

Frances Stern

Frances Stern’s experience as a second-generation American Jew dedicated to social reform and in contact with several prominent women engaged in social work led her to a career in scientific nutrition, applied dietetics, and home economics. Stern founded the Food Clinic of the Boston Dispensary, a center for dispensing practical advice on food and meal preparation for outpatients and their families that also served as a center for research on the relationships among health, nutrition, class, and ethnicity.

Annette Greenfield Strauss

Annette Greenfield Strauss began her career of public service volunteering for a Jewish charity. She went on to shape the city of Dallas first as a major fundraiser for various charities and then as mayor. After completing her term in 1991, she served as director and trustee for a number of organizations.

Sisterhoods of Personal Service in the United States

Sisterhoods of Personal Service coordinated the philanthropic work of synagogue sisterhoods across New York City and the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, assisting a considerable number of immigrants through a variety of financial, vocational, educational, and social programs.

Carrie Obendorfer Simon

Carrie Obendorfer Simon helped shape the Reform movement as founder of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, which quickly became the largest Jewish women’s organization in America.

Jennie Franklin Purvin

Jennie Franklin Purvin was one of a few Jewish women to become prominent in both civic and Jewish communal work in Progressive Era Chicago. Of her many efforts to improve the city, Purvin’s most visible and long-lasting accomplishment is the beachfronts on Lake Michigan for swimming and recreation.

Tamar De Sola Pool

Born into a family deeply involved in Jewish activism and scholarship, Tamar De Sola Pool spent over a decade as both a Hadassah chapter president and later Hadassah’s national president. She wrote two books in collaboration with her husband, volunteered at displaced persons camps in Cyprus, and helped resettle Jewish children in Palestine with Hadassah.

Bertha Pappenheim

Bertha Pappenheim was the founder of the Jewish feminist movement in Germany. In 1904, she founded the League of Jewish Women. Pappenheim believed that male-led Jewish social service societies underestimated the value of women’s work and insisted on a woman’s movement that was equal to and entirely independent of men’s organizations.

Lucy Goldschmidt Moses

Lucy Moses combined philanthropy on a grand scale with volunteer social work over a long life. She left a legacy in the worlds of medicine, music, and the university, and devoted herself to improving recreational facilities in her home city, New York.

Alice Davis Menken

Alice Davis Menken was an influential social reformer whose many published works had a notable impact on the field of penology. She became interested in delinquency among young female Jewish immigrants while working at a settlement house on the Lower East Side. Menken proceeded to pioneer the argument that therapy, not punishment, is the most effective treatment for young delinquents.

Fanny E. Holtzmann

Fanny E. Holtzmann made waves as a lawyer for stars of Broadway and Hollywood as well as luminaries of world politics such as the Romanoffs.

Bessie Abramowitz Hillman

Bessie Abramowitz devoted her life to unions, organizing her first strike at fifteen, announcing her engagement on a picket line, and continuing her efforts for workers’ rights until her death. She remained active in union activities until her death in New York City, on December 23, 1970, at age eighty-one.


Women played many different roles in the operations of the Haganah. Though their stories are frequently excluded from the story of the Jewish paramilitary organization in British Mandate Palestine, women served as caretakers and nurses, as well as fighters and commanders.

Elsa Zylberstein

During the last two decades of the twentieth century, French cinema displayed an extraordinary wealth of young Jewish talents, such as Elsa Zylberstein. Zylberstein is an internationally acclaimed French film and stage actress with a strong commitment to humanitarian awareness and advocating for women’s welfare.

Women's American ORT

Five years after the American chapter of the Organization for Rehabilitation through Training (ORT) was founded in 1922, a women’s auxiliary group (WAO) was created. WAO aided displaced Europeans and focused on creating vocational schools across the world. In the later twentieth century, WAO expanded to help create medical services for students and provide recreational facilities, among other programs.

Women's League for Conservative Judaism

Women’s League for Conservative Judaism (WLCJ), founded in 1918, is the national organization of Conservative sisterhoods. Throughout its history WLCJ has foregrounded women’s education and engagement in order to enrich the spiritual and religious lives of Conservative/Masorti women and to empower them as leaders in their homes, synagogues, and communities.

Vera Weizmann

A Zionist and a physician, Vera Weizmann was a founding member of the WIZO. She accompanied and assisted her husband Chaim, the president of the Zionist Federation of Britain and first president of Israel, as he negotiated the founding of a Jewish state.

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.

Nettie Sutro-Katzenstein

Dr. Nettie Sutro-Katzenstein founded SHEK (Schweizer Hilfswerk fur Emigrantenkinder), a non-denominational Swiss women’s organization for helping refugee children, in 1933. An effective and dynamic leader, Sutro-Katzenstein directed SHEK headquarters and recruited volunteers, gaining the support of the Swiss public. Between 1933 and 1948, SHEK cared for over 10,000 refugee children, 90% of whom were Jewish.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox