Congress designated August 26 Women’s Equality Day in recognition of the ratification of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote.
To celebrate Women’s Equality Day, we’ll explore the stories of 12 influential Jewish women to honor the accomplishments and individuals that shaped our history.
- Bella Abzug – “Battling Bella” was a U.S. Representative and women’s rights activist in the 1960s and 1970s that was known for her advocate work for women’s and civil rights. It was also at Bella’s request that Women’s Equality Day be created.
- Gertrude Elion – Gertrude was a Nobel Prize recipient, biochemist and pharmacologist. She helped develop medicine that treated leukemia; malaria, AIDS, and kidney transplant rejection.
- Anne Frank – Frank is best-known for her renowned posthumously-published The Diary of a Young Girl which documented her life and hiding from the Nazi occupation.
- Betty Friedan – Betty Friedan is largely known for her groundbreaking book The Feminine Mystique. She was also a founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg – RBG is a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and voice for gender equality and rights of workers. She ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark case that made same sex marriage legal in all 50 states.
- Emma Goldman – A famous anarchist, Emma Goldman was known for fiery rhetoric and political activism. She is a symbol of the fight for free speech, as she fiercely advocated for absolute freedom and justice.
- Rabbi Regina Jonas – Regina Jonas was the first woman to be ordained as a rabbi. Prior to WWII, she put an emphasis on caring for the sick at the Jewish hospital. She performed rabbinical functions at Theresienstadt before her death at Auschwitz.
- Emma Lazarus – A successful author and poet, Emma’s words are displayed on the Statue of Liberty and welcome all newcomers to America, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.”
- Golda Meir – The fourth Prime Minister of Israel, Golda’s involvement in Jewish freedom started long before her appointment. Meir aided Jewish war refugees during WWII and fundraised for an independent Israeli state.
- Bobbie Rosenfeld – Bobbie competed in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics and swept the six track events that she took part in. Rosenfeld later coached track and softball and wrote the column Sports Reel for the Toronto Globe and Mail.
- Hannah Szenes – Szenes served as a volunteer parachutist during WWII and trekked to her home country of Hungary to help other Jewish people escape. She was captured, but refused to give up any intel, and is often viewed as courageous and influential in Jewish efforts for freedom.
- Gertrude Weil – Influenced by Jewish teachings, Weil fought tirelessly for women’s suffrage, hosted a biracial council in her home, created parks and schools for underprivileged neighborhoods, and focused her efforts on her community.
Jewish Women’s Archive. “Women of Valor.” (Viewed on August 22, 2016) <https://jwa.org/womenofvalor>.
Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, 1 Jan. 2016. Web. 22 Aug. 2016.