World War II

Content type
Collection
Photo of writer's grandmother as a child on left; grandmother and writer on right

My Jewish Grandma’s Christmas Pierogis

Marissa Wojcik

With each handcrafted pierogi, my grandma honors her husband's traditions while holding on to her strong Jewish identity. 

Jewish Women Partisans

The testimonies of Jewish women partisans present a more complex gendered picture of partisan activism than the conventional portrayal of an exclusively male arena of armed guerillas. Women smuggled guns and ammunitions, fought in armed combat, engaged in reconnaissance activities, mobilized resistance, documented partisan activities, tended the wounded, and rescued and sheltered fellow Jews.

Hélène Cazes Benatar

Hélène Cazes Benatar was a Moroccan-born human rights lawyer who rescued thousands of refugees in North Africa during World War II. She was a life-long advocate for individual rights and political equality, especially for disenfranchised Maghrebi Jews. During World War II, she fought to protect victims of pro-Fascist Vichy rule; post-war, she promoted the migration of Moroccan Jews to Palestine and elsewhere.

Episode 56: The Light of Days: Judy Batalion (Transcript)

Episode 56: The Light of Days: Judy Batalion (Transcript)

Episode 56: The Light of Days: Judy Batalion

"They were women who carried cash in their garter belts and dynamite in their underwear," says Judy Batalion, the author of The Light of Days, a new book about Jewish women resistance fighters in World War II who "blew up Nazi supply trains and shot and killed Gestapo men." She's also co-writing the screenplay for a Steven Spielberg movie based on the book. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we talk with Judy about what made some women well suited to certain roles in the resistance and why their stories aren't better known today.

Bessie Margolin

Bessie Margolin was raised in New Orleans’s Jewish orphanage, where she learned powerful lessons in social justice that propelled her trailblazing legal career through the New Deal and Nazi War Crimes Trials to the United State Supreme Court, where she championed the rights of millions of American workers. A reluctant feminist who became the nation’s top fighter for equal pay for women and a co-founder of NOW, Margolin used intellect and charm to open courtroom doors for countless women who have followed.

Flory Jagoda

Flory Jagoda is a singer, musician, and composer who has promulgated and enriched the Sephardic and Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) musical and folkloric tradition in the United States. Born in 1923, in Sarajevo, Bosnia (formerly Yugoslavia), she managed to leave Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia and avoid the sad fate of the extended family that nurtured her musical talent and Sephardic heritage. The popular Hanukah song, Ocho Kandelikas, is one of her many original compositions in Judeo-Spanish.

Women’s Auxiliary Air Force Recruitment Poster, 1943

From the Archive: WWII Women’s Auxiliary Air Force Recruitment Poster

Deborah Dash Moore
Dory Fox

The Posen Library shares a WAAF poster from 1943 from their archive.

Topics: World War II
Victory Garden Poster, 1941-45 (crop)

Seeds of Sustenance: Pandemic Victory Gardens

Julie Zuckerman

Like during World War I and II, many of us have turned to gardening for comfort and control during the pandemic.

Topics: Food, World War II
Jewish Partisans in Poland

Zog Nit Keynmol: The Songs of Jewish Partisans

Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler

Jewish partisans are far more compelling than any revenge fantasy cooked up by Quentin Tarantino because they were real.

Dahlia "Pobie" Johnston

The Unsung Jewish Women of WWII

Toshe Cecev

It is the accomplishments of everyday women that shape our world and change our collective future. Let’s tell their stories, too.

Emmy Noether, Edited Doodle

Shining a Light on Mathematical Brilliance

Dahlia Japhet

Over the past 106 years, 48 women have been honored with the Nobel Prize. Amalie Emmy Noether, a German Jewish mathematician who is now known as the “mother of abstract algebra,” is not one of them.

The Fortunate Ones and Ellen Umansky

An Interview with Author Ellen Umansky

Larisa Klebe
Emily Cataneo

JWA’s June Book Club pick isThe Fortunate Ones, a debut novel by author Ellen Umansky that tells the story of two women, one an older Holocaust survivor, the other a young woman living in Los Angeles, and the stolen painting that binds them together. We talked to Umansky about intergenerational friendship, becoming a writer, and the meaning of the word “fortunate.”

Ruth Franklin Einstein

From the Archives: Saturday Luncheon Club

Robbie Terman

With the wonders of social media, I have a place to ponder the fate of Jimmy Hoffa and share anecdotes that I find in the archives. In 1921, a group of women with curious minds found a different method to uncover and share stories: The Saturday Luncheon Club (SLC).

Kubzansky Family Portrait

President Trump's Proposed Budget and The Loss of American Potential

Caroline Kubzansky

In my journal is a piece of paper that’s older than I am. I’ve been carrying it around for some time and reading it at almost every available opportunity, though at this point, I know it almost by heart.

Statue of Jewish Refugees in Shanghai

China's Jewish Sanctuary City

Emily Cataneo

I should be able to tour the neighborhoods that sheltered hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees in New York, Chicago, Boston, Montreal and Toronto, London and Manchester. But thanks to xenophobia, inaction, and fear, these neighborhoods never existed.

Audrey Abade

Audrey Abade is the Jewish History Department Chair at Magen David Yeshivah High School. Her research has focused on Sephardic Jewry, particularly the role of women within Syrian and Egyptian Jewish communities. Her study of Egyptian Jewish women and their immigration to the United States was published in, “A Jewish Feminine Mystique?: Jewish Women in Postwar America.” Her lesson focuses on Syrian Jewish Americans during World War II and looks at the process of identity formation through the lens of young first and second generation women.

Henrietta Szold on Saying Kaddish

In a 1916 letter, Henrietta Szold (the founder of Hadassah) defied Jewish tradition and challenged rituals that exclude women by asserting her right to say Kaddish (the Jewish prayer for mourners).

Ethel Shilmover Grossman

While serving as a member of the Army Nurse Corps in WWII, Ethel Shilmover Grossman was moved and astonished to see the kindness with which American soldiers treated wounded German POWs.

Clara Raven

After a distinguished military career as one of the first female doctors to serve in WWII, Clara Raven went on to do pioneering research on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Ilona Elek

Hailed as one of the greatest female fencers of all time, Ilona Elek won her first Olympic gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Hannah Szenes, 1944, cropped

Living A Life Of Valor

Sarah Groustra

I don’t think I’m a very brave person. I’m normally quite timid, and taking a stand is something that does not come naturally to me. I sometimes hesitate to say what I really think for fear of how others will react, and I often find it easy to fade into the background in large groups.

Rosenstrasse Monument, Berlin, Germany

The Women of Rosenstrasse

Eyal Roth

After moving from Tel Aviv to Berlin about five years ago, I started noticing that the sheer number of commemorative objects scattered around the city is quite astounding. Berlin has seen more radical changes in the last 150 years then most cities have in the last 1,000. From the Prussians to the German Kaiser, from the Weimar republic to Nazi times and subsequently division and reunification, it is a city of many identities.

Topics: World War II

Beate Sirota Gordon

Through diplomacy and ingenuity, twenty-two-year-old Beate Sirota Gordon wrote unprecedented rights for women into Japan’s post-war constitution.

Long-lost poem by war heroine Hannah Szenes is found.

September 2, 2012

A poem by WWII hero Hannah Szenes was discovered 68 years after her death.

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