“Jewish Women Call for Change”

On this date in 1972, a Jewish feminist study group, Ezrat Nashim (named for the women’s section of synagogue), submitted a manifesto to the Rabbinical Assembly, the rabbinic arm of the movement for Conservative Judaism, at the RA’s national convention. The document, entitled “Jewish Women Call for Change,” petitioned the Conservative movement to count women in […]

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Lillian Wald and the Henry Street Settlement

Lillian Wald co-founded what would become the Henry Street Settlement House (its original name was Nurses’ Settlement) on this date in 1893 — which was also her 26th birthday. Wald, the daughter of immigrants from Germany, enjoyed a relatively affluent upbringing and, after training as a nurse, became the greatest champion of public health services in […]

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Senda Berenson, Mother of Women’s Basketball

Senda Berenson (Valvrojenski), the first woman inaugurated into the Basketball Hall of Fame, died on this date in 1954. Known as “The Mother of Women’s Basketball,” she was the first physical education instructor at Smith College, and in 1893 she conducted the first women’s basketball game — sophomores against freshmen. Six years later, she modified […]

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Judge Polier

Activist judge Justine Wise Polier retired from New York family court on this date in 1973, after thirty-eight years of service. When, in 1935, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia appointed her to the city’s “Domestic Relations Court” (as it was then called), she was the youngest city judge in the U.S. (age 32) and the first woman […]

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In Memoriam: The Woman Who Popularized “Ms.”

by Bennett Muraskin   ALTHOUGH Ms. magazine is most identified with Gloria Steinem, the woman who most popularized the term “Ms.” was Sheila Michaels (1939-2017). The word enabled women to be identified as their own persons, rather than according to their marital status (Mrs. or Miss). Michaels’ career included a variety of jobs including cabdriver, technical editor, co-owner […]

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Angelica Balabanoff

International socialist activist Angelica Balabanoff died in Rome on this date in 1965. She was born in 1878 to a wealthy, privileged Jewish family in Chernigov, near Kiev, in Ukraine, but found the privilege unbearable and rejected it to become a social activist in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and Russia. Balabanoff was fluent in several languages and held […]

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Radical or Liberal in 2017?

REGARDING FEMINISM AND LOTS MORE by Raina Lipsitz from the Autumn 2017 issue of Jewish Currents   WHEN I WAS 17, I yearned for the “real” feminism of my mother’s era, the kind chronicled in Susan Brownmiller’s In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution, which came out in 2000, during my senior year of high […]

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Bella Abzug and Women Strike for Peace

Bella Abzug, along with co-founder Dagmar Wilson (not Jewish), launched Women Strike for Peace (WSP) on this date in 1961, when some 50,000 women, mostly middle-class mothers of young children in over sixty communities, demonstrated to demand that President John F. Kennedy “End the Arms Race — Not the Human Race.” This was prompted by the […]

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