World War II

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Anna Rosenberg, first woman to receive Medal of Freedom

October 29, 1945

Acclaimed for her talents as a labor mediator, diplomat, adviser, troubleshooter, and administrator, Anna Rosenberg became the first

Army nurse Frances Y. Slanger killed by German artillery

October 21, 1944

On October 21, 1944, Frances Y. Slanger, R.N. died in Elsenborn, Belgium, a victim of a German artillery attack.

Rita Levi-Montalcini wins the Nobel Prize

October 13, 1986

Rita Levi-Montalcini’s pioneering work on nerve growth earned her the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on October 13, 1986.

Ruth Gruber finds haven for 1,000 Holocaust refugees

August 3, 1944

When President Roosevelt decided to accept a thousand European immigrants in the midst of World War II and the Holocaust, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes chose the Jewish-American writer and

Birth of multi-talented Ruth Hagy Brod

May 31, 1911

Born in New York City on May 31, 1911, and raised in Chicago, Ruth Hagy Brod had a varied career that took her from the newsroom to Latin America

Gertrude Stein publishes Alice B. Toklas "Autobiography"

June 1, 1933

American modernist writer Gertrude Stein published a memoir, ironically titled The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, on June 1, 1933.

Fanny Goldstein, librarian and founder of Jewish Book Week, is born

May 15, 1895
Goldstein was the first female Judaica librarian and the first woman to direct a branch library in Massachusetts.

Early music harpsichordist Wanda Landowska plays Bach at New York City's Town Hall

February 21, 1942

Born in Warsaw in 1879, Wanda Landowska studied piano at the Warsaw Conservatory, from which she graduated at age 14. In 1900, she moved to Paris, where she taught piano and performed.

Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem" appears in "The New Yorker"

February 16, 1963

When Hannah Arendt published her first article about Adolf Eichmann's war crimes trial in The New Yorker in its February 16, 1963 issue, s

Yugoslavia

The Jewish community of Yugoslavia was small, vibrant, and diverse, with waves of immigrants arriving from the 16th through the 19th centuries. Like many Jewish communities in Europe, the Yugoslav community was decimated by the Nazis, and only a few Jews remain in Yugoslavia today.

Barbara W. Tuchman

From a young age, Barbara W. Tuchman was engaged with contemporary international affairs. Her passion for research and engaging writing style won her two Pulitzer Prizes for her popular histories The Guns of August and Stilwell and the American Experience in China.

Lillian Laser Strauss

Lillian Laser Strauss performed pioneering work in public health and child welfare in Pennsylvania, became a lawyer at age fifty, and, in the midst of active legal advocacy for public health, died suddenly of a heart attack at age fifty-six.

Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein was an American modernist writer, an international celebrity, and an artistic iconoclast. With her companion Alice B. Toklas, she lived in Paris for most of her life. An impressive modern art collection hung on the walls of their home. Besides poetry and plays, Stein wrote innovative fiction, essays on writing and art, and two memoirs, The Biography of Alice B. Toklas and Everybody’s Autobiography, that chronicled her life, career, and famous friends.

Johanna Spector

Johanna Spector was an influential ethnomusicologist whose writings, recordings, and film projects documented the music of little-studied Jewish communities from around the world. After surviving the Holocaust, Spector earned her doctorate, founded the ethnomusicology department at the Jewish Theological Seminary, established the Society for the Preservation of Samaritan Culture, and served as president of the Asian Music Society. 

Anna Sokolow

Anna Sokolow (1910-2000), an American dancer and choreographer of Russian-Jewish descent, danced with the early Martha Graham Company and created many international dance-theater works of social and political significance.

Ruth Rubin

Ruth Rubin devoted a lifetime to the collection and preservation of Yiddish folklore in poetics and songs. As a popular performer-folklorist, she would describe the background of her selections and then sing them in a simple, unaccompanied style. Rubin helped preserve the past and launch the modern Yiddish revival.

Anna Rosenberg

Anna Lederer Rosenberg was an administrator, diplomat, and public relations and manpower expert who advised multiple presidents. In 1950 she became the first female Assistant Secretary of Defense. Deeply admired by military and government leaders, Rosenberg’s success demonstrates how deftly she maneuvered within these male-dominated arenas.

Lenore Guinzburg Marshall

Lenore Guinzburg Marshall, novelist, poet, activist, and literary editor, pushed her publishing company to publish William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury after it had been rejected by twelve other publishers. She published her first novel, Only the Fear, in 1935 and her first poetry collection, No Boundary, in 1943, going on to write poetry, novels, short stories, essays, and a memoir.

Vladka Meed

Vladka Meed was an underground courier who smuggled weapons to the Jewish Fighting Organization inside the Warsaw Ghetto while passing as a Christian outside its walls. In 1948 she published a memoir about her experiences, On Both Sides of the Wall. Meed received many awards for her work in Holocaust education and memorialization.

Holocaust Survivors: Rescue and Resettlement in the United States

Immediately after the Holocaust, the American Jewish community assisted in the postwar rehabilitation and resettlement of survivors who arrived in the United States. Families sponsored European relatives and communal agencies organized to help survivors’ adjustment. While the contemporary media described a warm welcome by American communities and survivors’ rapid acclimation, this triumphant narrative belied the fraught reality of survivors’ early years in the United States.

Dame Myra Hess

One of Great Britain’s most famous classical pianists, Dame Myra Hess had the idea of setting up lunchtime concerts at London’s National Gallery during the Second World War. The success of those concerts made Hess an international star, and the honor of Dame of the British Empire was conferred upon her in 1941.

Lillian Herstein

Lillian Herstein was an early twentieth-century teacher and a nationally known labor leader. She spent her career advocating for worker education and served as the advisor on child labor legislation to the International Labor Organization in Geneva in 1937.

Lillian Hellman

Controversial both during and after her life, Lillian Hellman was one of the leading women of letters of mid-century America and a pioneer woman playwright. Hellman displayed courage not only in writing powerful plays like The Children’s Hour but also in her public refusal to name colleagues to the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Anna Braude Heller

A brilliant pediatrician used to working in difficult circumstances, Anna Braude Heller struggled to keep children’s hospitals open through both World War I and World War II, even as the Nazis occupied Poland and placed Jews in ghettos. Although she evaded deportation in 1943, she was killed shortly afterwards when German soldiers raided the Warsaw Ghetto.

Haganah

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.

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