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Women's Rights

Ernestine Rose

Ernestine Rose’s extemporaneous speeches on religious freedom, public education, abolition, and women’s rights earned her the title “Queen of the Platform.”

Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Letty Cottin Pogrebin is a liberal Jew and an outspoken advocate for women, families and intergroup harmony.

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.

Pauline Newman

Pauline Newman was a labor pioneer and a die-hard union loyalist once described by a colleague as “capable of smoking a cigar with the best of them.” The first woman ever appointed general organizer by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), Newman continued to work for the ILGWU for more than seventy years—first as an organizer, then as a labor journalist, a health educator, and a liaison between the union and government officials.

National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods

In 1913, the women of Reform Judaism, who were organized in independent, local synagogue sisterhoods founded in the 1890s and 1900s, united to create a national organization of women dedicated to religion. Reform Jewish women joined the American women of the era who established a host of voluntary associations to further various social and communal agendas.

National Council of Jewish Women

When the National Council of Jewish Women was founded in 1893, it was the first national organization in history to unite Jewish women to promote the Jewish religion. That its commitment to preserve Jewish heritage in a quickly modernizing America would be fraught with contradictions was not readily apparent in the optimistic surroundings of the World Parliament of Religions, convened as part of the Chicago World Exposition.

Maud Nathan

Maud Nathan, social reformer and political activist, lived two distinct lives. She was born on October 20, 1862, into a distinguished old New York Sephardic family (she had relatives who fought in the American Revolution; one of her cousins was Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo; and another cousin was the poet emma lazarus) and had a privileged childhood.

Annie Nathan Meyer

Annie Nathan Meyer promoted women’s higher education; chronicled women’s work; dramatized women’s status in plays, novels, and short stories; raised funds for Jewish and black students; wrote hundreds of letters to the editor; published art, drama, and music criticism; and championed physical activity and the outdoors.

Nita M. Lowey

As cochair of the Bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey made women’s health issues a priority. In the fiscal year of 1995, when the National Institutes of Health received only a three percent increase in funding, Lowey secured a seventeen percent increase in funding for breast cancer research. As a member of the Committee on Homeland Security, she works to achieve safety from terrorism for all Americans. Also serving on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Lowey is a staunch supporter of the State of Israel.

Minnie Low

Known as the “Jane Addams of the Jews,” Minnie Low was a leader in the Jewish social service community. Born in New York City, on November 9, 1867, Low was the second of six children. When she was ten, Low’s family moved to Chicago, where she completed grammar school. Unfortunately, she was forced to leave South Division High School during her first year due to poor health.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women's Rights." (Viewed on January 17, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/womens-rights>.

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