This online collection contains reminiscences of a variety of recently deceased American Jewish women who made a difference in their community and beyond.
Jean Carroll was a stand up comedian in the truest, truest essence ... [She] just stood there in front of a microphone and talked. She was what today we would call a monologist... If she was sitting a table with Don Rickles and Jack Benny, she could hold her own.
She never put much stock in her pioneering achievements ... until she became a grandmother... It was when she had her granddaughters around her that she began to think about what their lives were going to be like.
She never put herself in the limelight to lead and yet she was a leader.
A world without a Carla in it just doesn’t seem possible (and certainly less interesting). But I know she will always be with us. Once you know her, you can’t forget her.
She gave her editors indigestion, but she won them a Pulitzer, too, guiding the Globe's coverage of the pain and the chaos that greeted court-ordered busing to achieve desegregation of Boston's public schools.
Despite the difficulty of translating the evanescent nature of dance into words, Selma Jeanne Cohen believed that dance, as much as painting, music and literature, deserved a history of its own. She spent a lifetime creating the structures necessary to making the recording of that history possible….
When I pick up this pen to use it, I will remember so much of what you taught me, not the least of which is to dare to try. To go for it. And I will remember the lessons you taught me of believing in myself, of responsibility and honor and consideration for others and how we must give back, and, of the endless possibilities of creativity. And, oh yes, to have fun….
I most value the example Dorrit set with her integrity, modesty, and precision in teaching, advising, and scholarship. She was respectful and generous with her time, and she never overstepped.
Back in Cohn's day even her own PhD advisor could not help her find a suitable job, for in the era of pre-"equal opportunity" employment, Cohn had two strikes going against her – being a woman and Jewish – that no amount of talent could seem to overcome.
Her life not only chronicles a history of the Broadway musicals I grew up with, but also an era that allowed many of us to believe in the beauty and power of New York, as well as that melancholy feeling many of us hold as we look back on a period when life was indeed simpler… Though not a particularly observant Jew, Comden seemed informed by a Jewish frame of mind – a wise-cracking, down-to-earth, cultural "at homeness" with which I very much identified.
Beyond her extraordinary artistic accomplishments, Adrienne was a mentor, resource, and role model to so many who have lived, or at least sojourned, in Yiddishland.
Rhonda Copelon often worked behind the scenes, but her finger prints, or perhaps I should say brain waves, are all over many of the most important breakthroughs in progressive feminist advances both in the United States and globally.
Her capacity to empower people while leading with a firm hand and a kind heart was so inspiring. Many of us have been moved to action, to effect change, because of her example.
Every inflection point in Rachel’s life became a source of mission and activism: as half of a young intermarried couple in the 1970s, she pushed for inclusivity in the Jewish community… When she became Jewish and then a rabbi (she was ordained in 1989 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion), she used her dual perspective as both outsider and insider to sense what was needed in the Jewish world.
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.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "We Remember." (Viewed on February 20, 2019) <https://jwa.org/weremember/toc/C>.