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Women's Rights

Susan Brandeis Gilbert

On June 5, 1916, Susan Brandeis, a University of Chicago Law School student, watched her father, Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1856–1941)—a Harvard Law School graduate, millionaire, socially conscious Boston lawyer—take the oath of office as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. He was the first Jewish associate justice of the Court, and Susan would soon be the first woman lawyer whose parent sat on that bench.

Germany: 1750-1945

To view German Jewish history from the Enlightenment through the Holocaust from a gender perspective deepens our understanding of history in general and provides us with a richer, more complex and more inclusive picture of the Jewish past.

Ida Weis Friend

Ida Weis Friend’s life of activism began when, at age fifteen, she raised money for a hospital fountain. Her community service, representative of women’s club work during the Progressive Era and beyond, encompassed religious organizations, the woman suffrage movement, mainstream politics, public health, child welfare, and cultural philanthropy.

Betty Friedan

Considered by many as the “mother” of the second wave of modern feminism, activist and writer Betty Friedan was one of the most influential feminist leaders of the second half of the twentieth century, a co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and its first president. She served on the boards of leading women’s organizations, fought for legislation to ensure women’s equality and wrote books analyzing women’s role in society and the women’s movement.

Henrietta Franklin

A leading advocate for advanced education for women, she supported the rise of women in professional life, even employing an Anglo-Jewish woman surgeon. Furious at the educational, civic and political limitations imposed upon women, Henrietta Franklin became active in the British suffrage movement. She and her sister Lily Montagu also joined the extended Franklin family and friends in helping to create and lead the Jewish League for Woman Suffrage (founded November 3, 1912), an organization dedicated to attaining suffrage in Britain and equal religious and communal rights for women in the Anglo-Jewish community.

Sheila Finestone

Senator Sheila Finestone, one of Canadian Jewry’s foremost parliamentarians, championed the protection of human rights for all Canadians throughout her career as a liberal politician.

Feminism in the United States

Jewish women have played a significant role in all aspects of the American feminist movement.

Feminism in Contemporary Israel

The first wave of feminism in Israel washed over the country as early as the pre-statehood [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:432]Yishuv[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] period.

Mary Fels

Mary Fels, an ardent and philanthropic Zionist, promoted Jewish settlement in Palestine and Israel throughout her life.

Eastern European Immigrants in the United States

Of all Jewish immigrants to the United States from 1886 to 1914, forty-four percent were women, far more than for other immigrants groups arriving during the heyday of mass immigration. The more than two million Jews from the Russian Empire, Romania, and Austria-Hungary who entered the United States in the years 1881 to 1924—when the American government imposed a restrictive quota system—came to stay. Only 7 percent chose to return to Europe, as opposed to about 30 percent of all immigrants. Jewish immigrants intended to raise American families. Ashkenazi (European) Jewish culture and American values as conveyed by social reformers as well as by advertising, and the economic realities of urban capitalist America, all influenced the position of women in immigrant Jewish society in America. Jewish immigrant women shared many of the attributes of immigrant women in general, but also displayed ethnic characteristics.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women's Rights." (Viewed on June 20, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/womens-rights>.

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