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Polly Spiegel Cowan, 1913 - 1976

The legacy that my mother left went beyond the immediate family. She was part of a great movement that profoundly changed American society. On a personal level, the legacy of her commitment inspired the succeeding generations of our own family. We, her children and grandchildren, remain committed to the beliefs of prophetic Judaism: to help the poor and the needy and to seek justice.

Lois Levin Roisman, 1938 - 2008

Lois' life was centered on the inherent goodness of humans and inherent humor of life. Everything she did was based on the principle that if you could make people laugh about the human condition, then you could make them do something to improve it.

Unit 3, Lesson 5 - Civil Rights and Social Justice Today

Consider what contemporary civil rights and social justice issues matter to us today, and how Jews and African Americans determine their priorities and responsibilities to effect social change.

Hannah Greenebaum Solomon

Hannah Greenebaum Solomon dared to go out into the world and establish the first national association of Jewish women. A superb organizer, Solomon emphasized unity, and orchestrated agreements among Jewish, gentile, and government groups on local, national, and international levels.

Justine Wise Polier

An outspoken activist and a "fighting judge," Justine Wise Polier was the first woman Justice in New York. For 38 years she used her position on the Family Court bench to fight for the rights of the poor and disempowered. She strove to implement juvenile justice law as treatment, not punishment, making her court the center of a community network that encompassed psychiatric services, economic aid, teachers, placement agencies, and families.

Rebecca Gratz

As the founder and secretary of Philadelphia's earliest women's philanthropic organizations, Rebecca Gratz helped define a new identity for American women. She devoted her adult life to providing relief for Philadelphia's underprivileged women and children and securing religious, moral and material sustenance for all of Philadelphia's Jews.

Shoshana Cardin becomes first woman to lead a major national Jewish organization

November 15, 1984

After over two decades of building a reputation as a passionate and generous member of the Jewish community through her activism and volunteer work, Baltimorean Shoshana Cardin was elected as the first woman president of the Council of Jewish Federations on November 15, 1984.

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.

Union of Jewish Women

The Union of Jewish Women (UJW) was the first national umbrella organization for Jewish women’s social service groups.

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.

Annette Greenfield Strauss

Annette Greenfield Strauss made history in the spring of 1987 when she was elected as the first female and first Jewish mayor of Dallas.

Frances Stern

Frances Stern’s experience as a second-generation American Jew dedicated to social reform, interested in education, and having the good fortune to come into contact with several prominent women engaged in various aspects of social work led her to a career in scientific nutrition, applied dietetics, and home economics.

Sisterhoods of Personal Service in the United States

The Sisterhoods of Personal Service constituted a significant unit within the constellation of Jewish social welfare organizations, personally assisting a considerable number of immigrants through a variety of financial, vocational, educational, and social programs.

Carrie Obendorfer Simon

In an era in which Victorian social conventions limited most women to the private sphere of home and family, Carrie Obendorfer Simon broke important ground for American Jewish women by founding the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (NFTS) in the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC).

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.

Tamar De Sola Pool

Tamar de Sola Pool dreamt of a socially and economically just world where people consistently acted toward one another with good will, fairness, and faith.

Bertha Pappenheim

Bertha Pappenheim founded the Jewish feminist movement in 1904 and led it for twenty years, remaining on its board of directors until her death in 1936. She introduced German-Jewish women to beliefs and issues raised by feminism. She spoke openly of Jewish unwed mothers, illegitimate children and prostitutes, and she encouraged Jewish women to demand political, economic and social rights as well as commensurate responsibilities.

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 stood at the forefront of what her New York Times obituary calls “the evolution of penology from an attitude of sentimentality and punishment to the broader conception of mercy and rehabilitation.” Her many published works argued that therapy, not punishment, was the most effective treatment for young offenders.

Fanny E. Holtzmann

Fanny E. Holtzmann was a middle child in a family of seven children. Born in Brooklyn to Henry and Theresa Holtzmann, she grew up ignored by her busy family. Her close relationship with her maternal grandfather was crucial in encouraging Fanny, once labeled the “class dunce,” to complete three years of high school and enroll in night classes at Fordham University’s law school. During the day, she worked as a clerk for a theatrical law firm. The only woman to graduate in her law class of 1922, she opened her office half an hour after passing the bar.

Bessie Abramowitz Hillman

Bas Sheva Abramowitz (“Bessie” was created by an Ellis Island immigration officer) was born on May 15, 1889, in Linoveh, a village near Grodno in Russia. She was one of ten children born to Emanuel Abramowitz, a commission agent, and Sarah Rabinowitz. In 1905, Bessie, who spoke only Yiddish and some Russian, joined an older cousin in immigrating to America. Most 1905 immigrants fled czarist oppression and anti-Jewish violence, but Bessie reported that her aim in leaving home was to escape the services of the local marriage broker.

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