This online collection contains reminiscences of a variety of recently deceased American Jewish women who made a difference in their community and beyond.
An agitator, rabble-rouser, and working-class Jewish lesbian, Gerry Faier found company and camaraderie among fellow labor organizers, the burgeoning gay and lesbian communities of Woodstock and Greenwich Village, and activists across many generations.
And in the reflection of the glass, finally, literally and metaphorically, I could see myself, and Leslie, at once. I think I started to understand what I could be in that moment, that I belonged to a proud tradition of Butch women. That there was a place for me in this world. That I could grow up. For the first time, I understood that I was looking at who and what I would become as an adult. It was breathtaking.
Frances Feldman's life and work are a testimony to the highest standards of social work scholarship. They reflect compassion, systematic understanding, and relentless curiosity. A pioneering spirit, personally and intellectually, she changed the world she lived in and left indelible memories with all who knew her.
Never content to play only gay spaces, she would perform 'any place that would have her.' She loved being a bridge, helping others to gain confidence and find the resources they needed.
Vivian had presence. And she had style, coming to work every weekday afternoon and Shabbat morning dressed to the nines and fully coiffed. She was from the generation of religious school teachers who not only championed the teaching of the Hebrew language to American Jewish students (and successfully taught it to them), but also viewed themselves as true professionals.
Her teacher and piano were important in her life, but her Jewish identity and heritage were even more so. She was involved in many Jewish causes and organizations and was a proud supporter of Israel, especially in her life-long devotion to Hadassah.
As one of the first professionals to initiate a joint venture between a nonprofit and the private sector, Clara was way ahead of her time.
Sally Fox's passion was to gather and share the history of women through visual images. Sometimes this meant finding images of women doing conventional work, but often it meant seeking images of women doing the unexpected…. Her goal was to challenge conventional notions of how women lived their lives in the past.
Mother’s public debut was not exactly spontaneous — in 1982 my brother Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank faced a tough re-election campaign. We were all engaged, but probably the most effective family effort was a campaign commercial featuring Mother, in her rocking chair, explaining that she trusted Barney to protect Social Security.
Judy was one of the first (and still, regrettably, one of the few) singers of Sephardic songs who, from the beginning, learned songs directly from the people whose tradition it was.
My mother, I came to realize, wanted to obliterate the barrier between love and sexuality. I was not shocked or shamed to encounter that carnal side of her. The mother I knew during my lifetime was a beautiful and vain woman, one who resisted having a mastectomy for breast cancer because she could not bear to be, as she put it, 'mutilated' and 'disfigured.' Her allure was part of her life-force, something inextricably tied to her passions for intellectual growth and artistic expression.
If there was any one woman who could be called the mother of feminism, it was Betty Friedan. Though "second-wave" feminism was a collective endeavor that had many founders, Friedan was the spark plug whose furious indictment of "the problem that had no name" – the false consciousness of "happy housewifery" – set off a revolution more potent than many of the other social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s. The impact of this social movement is still being felt around the world.
… She was an inspiration to many of us as an activist and someone who challenged the powers that be…And I think many of us saw her as a role model: There weren't a lot of women in office – she was there and she had a great fighting spirit.
She didn’t want to be known as the girl with cancer. She wanted to be known as a social justice activist, as someone working to repair the world.
As a scholar, Dr. Frymer-Kensky challenged her students to study deeply and obtain mastery of their subjects; any less was insufficient. In her writing, she modeled both rigor and relevance…. She wrote in order to bring us the ancient and to create a more just present.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "We Remember." (Viewed on February 18, 2019) <https://jwa.org/weremember/toc/F>.