Bella Abzug (1920–1998)
We raise this cup to honor Bella Abzug, the first Jewish woman to be elected to the United States Congress on a peace and women’s rights platform, a founding Second Wave feminist and a fighter for justice until her last breath. Fiercely committed to Lit. Repair of the world According to Jewish mysticism, the world is in a broken state. Humanity's job is to join God, as God's partners, in its repair., Abzug participated in some of the first women’s seders, lending her humor, passion and chutzpa to the development of this ritual.
Born a month before American women won the right to vote, Bella Savitzky Abzug grew up in the Bronx, where as a young Zionist activist, she raised money by giving impassioned speeches at subway stops. After her father’s death, thirteen-year-old Abzug challenged her traditional synagogue by reciting The Aramaic memorial prayer for the dead. Mourners recite this prayer at every service, every day, in the presence of a minyan (prayer quorum) over the course of a year (for a parent) or thirty days (for a sibling or offspring). The prayer actually makes no mention of the dead, but rather prays for the sanctification and magnification of God's name. daily. A graduate of Hunter College and Columbia Law School, Abzug defended victims of racial and ideological discrimination. In the 1960s she helped found Women Strike for Peace which protested war and nuclear proliferation. At the age of 50, running with the slogan ” A Woman’s Place is in the House,” Abzug became the first Jewish woman elected to the House of Representatives on a women’s rights and civil rights platform. She served three terms in Congress, introducing and writing important legislation on behalf of women, civil liberties and gays. Abzug eventually brought her energy and principles to the world stage, founding the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) to help transform the United Nation’s agenda on women, human rights and the environment. Inspiring generations of young women activists, Bella Abzug showed the world that a Jewish woman who speaks her mind and fights the fight really can make a difference.
See www.jwa.org for more on Bella Abzug, including photos and an extensive bibliography.
Lavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem. Auerbach (1903–1976)
We raise this cup to honor Rachel Auerbach. A graduate in philosophy from Lwow University in Poland. Rachel Auerbach was a Zionist and a literary modernist. She was also one of the very few Jewish women before World War II to cross the gender barrier to be acknowledged and respected for her artistic expression. When the war broke out in Poland, Auerbach was trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto. She devoted herself to writing stories and essays for the Oneg Shabbos project and helped to create a secret ghetto archive, parts of which were retrieved after the war. She also lectured for the ghetto’s “popular university,” and directed a soup kitchen on Kovno Street, where she tried to keep as many Jews as possible from starving to death. After the ghetto was destroyed, Auerbach continued to write from a hiding place on the Aryan side. When the war ended, she immigrated to Lit. ''the one who struggles with God.'' Israel means many things. It is first used with reference to Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel (Genesis 32:29), the one who struggles with God. Jacob's children, the Jewish people, become B'nai Israel, the children of Israel. The name also refers to the land of Israel and the State of Israel. where she helped found Lit. Hand. The pointer used when reading the Torah, usually shaped like a tiny hand at its point. Vashem, Israel’s The genocide of millions of European Jews--as well as other ethnic, religious and minority groups--by the Nazis during World War II. The tragic events of the Holocaust are now commemorated each year on Yom HaShoah; established in 1952 by the Israeli government. Shoah (calamity) has become the term used to describe the systemic mass slaughter that occurred during World War II. Memorial. She organized the Department for Collecting Witness Accounts and continued to chronicle life in Warsaw before the war. She died in Israel in 1976.
Roskies, David. Literature of Destruction. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society,1992.
Asenath bat Samuel Barazani (1590–1670)
With this cup we honor Asenath bat Samuel Barazani, a remarkable Kurdistani Jewish woman. Born in 1590 into a family of scholars, Asenath was educated to study and teach The Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general.. When she married, her The Jewish wedding contract. Traditionally, the ketubah protected the wife in marriage by spelling out the husband's obligations to her and guaranteeing her a financial settlement in case of divorce. Throughout the ages, ketubot (plural) have been illuminated and calligraphed, becoming significant as Jewish art. Today, all manner of egalitarian ketubot are written. Some dispense with the financial and legal aspects, focusing more on the emotional and spiritual sides of the relationship. Others maintain the rabbis' concern with the practical, but define mutual obligations for each spouse. included an unheard of stipulation exempting her from housework so that she could devote herself to study. When Asenath’s husband died, she assumed his position as the head of the academy that her father Samuel had established, and she became the primary teacher, preacher, interpreter of Jewish law, and fund-raiser for the seminary in Mosul. Her correspondence, written in a precise hand in elegant Hebrew, reveals poetic ability, scholarship, and a clear sense of the urgency of her mission. A traditional woman throughout her life, she trained her son Samuel to carry on the legacy of his grandfather and father, and he became a rabbi and teacher in Baghdad. Asenath’s legacy is one of rare honor. A letter to her in 1664 declared, “My lady, my mother, my rabbinate… We are always ready to revere you and serve you truly and faithfully, but please do not forget [to mention] us in your prayers, for surely your prayer is more accepted [by God] and is equal to peace offerings, ascending to high heaven and binding the upper worlds with the earthly one.”
Henry, S., Taitz, E. Written Out of History: Our Jewish Foremothers. Fresh Meadows: Biblio Press, 1983; Sabar, Yona. The Folk Literature of the Kurdistani Jews: An Anthology. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982.
Judith saved her people by seducing Holofernes, the enemy general, and then decapitating him. The story of Judith, found in the apocrypha, is associated with Chanukah (relating to the tradition of eating cheese dishes because she seduced the general and fed him dairy). Her Hebrew name is Yehudit. Kaplan Eisenstein (1910–1996)
With this cup we honor the memory of Judith Kaplan Eisenstein. In 1922, when Judith Kaplan was twelve years old she made history when she was called to the Torah as the first Bat Lit. Commandment. It is traditionally held that there are 613 mitzvot (plural) in Judaism, both postive commandments (mandating actions) and negative commandments (prohibiting actions). Mitzvah has also become colloquially assumed to mean the idea of a “good deed." by her father, Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (founder of the Reconstructionist movement.) This early experience served her well when, after earning bachelor and masters degrees in music at Columbia University, she became one of the earliest women to teach at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Her book of children’s music, Gateway to Jewish Song, and her Heritage of Jewish Music quickly became classics. In 1934 she married her father’s closest disciple, Rabbi Ira Eisenstein, who collaborated with her on some of the seven Jewish cantatas that she wrote during her career. While in her 50s, after raising her family, she earned a doctorate in Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She continued teaching rabbis and teachers at Hebrew Union College and at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, which her husband founded in 1968. Kaplan Eisenstein’s life work reflected her belief that the rich legacy of Jewish music opens the way to the Jewish soul and to a deeper understanding of Jewish history.
Debra Nussbaum Priest. Descendants of Aaron who served in the Temple in Jerusalem. Today, in the absence of a Temple, Jews continue to keep track of who is a Cohen. A Cohen is accorded certain privileges in synagogue and is forbidden from entering a graveyard or marrying a divorcee. Priesthood is patrilineal – if one’s father was a Cohen, then one is a Cohen., “The First Bat Mitzvah Dies at the age of 86,” Daily News Bulletin of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 16, 1996.
Glikl of Hameln (1646–1724)
With this cup we honor Glikl bas Judah Leib and Beila, more commonly known as Gluckel of Hameln. Born in 1646 in the German town of Hamburg, Glikl’s brief childhood was marked by dislocation due to the expulsion of Jews from her birthplace. By the age of twelve she was betrothed to Haim of Hameln, a young man she had never met but would grow to love deeply over thirty years of marriage. Glikl became a partner in all aspects of Haim’s affairs, making business decisions, overseeing finances and drawing up contracts. As their business grew, so did their family. Glikl survived fourteen pregnancies and raised twelve children to adulthood. A tragic accident in 1689 killed Haim, taking from Glikl “the crown of [her] life.” Laden with grief, financial burdens and a challenge to her faith in God, she assumed full responsibility for the family enterprise, travelling to business fairs throughout Western Europe, opening her own stocking factory and store, and skillfully arranging her children’s marriages. She also began a project that would claim her a role in history: she began to write her memoirs. Glikl’s memoirs invite the reader into the heart and mind of a seventeenth century Jewish woman. Her stories and descriptions of everyday life reflect a keen intelligence and devout piety while providing a window on the spiritual and material reality of Jewish life in pre-modern Europe. We bless this cup of wine in memory of Glikl. We celebrate the vision,creativity and confidence which led her to write, making visible a part of Jewish experience which otherwise would have been forgotten.
Lowenthal, Marvin, trans. The Memoirs of Gluckel of Hameln. New York: Schocken Books, 1989.
The second Jewish matriarch, Isaac's wife, and mother to Jacob and Esau. Rebecca is an active parent, talking to God when she is pregnant and learning the fate of her children, then ultimately manipulating Isaac and the children to ensure Jacob's ascendancy. Her Hebrew name is Rivka. Gratz (1781–1869)
This cup is dedicated to the memory of Rebecca Gratz. Born in Philadelphia on March 4, 1781, Gratz grew up in a large and loving family that always remained central to her life. An observant Jew who lived in the largely Christian elite society of nineteenth century Philadelphia, Gratz was a proud defender of Judaism. Her friendships with non-Jews gave her a forum for developing and expressing her ideas about the importance of religious tolerance in American society. Protective of poor Jews who were vulnerable to proselytizers, she joined women from her community to found the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society which provided food, fuel, shelter, and later an employment bureau and traveler’s aid service. Gratz believed that women were uniquely responsible for the preservation of Jewish life in America. All the institutions she established were run by women, most notably the Hebrew Sunday School which provided Jewish women with the unprecedented opportunity to educate boys and girls in a religious context. Rebecca Gratz embodied her own statement that with “an unsubdued spirit” one can conquer all of life’s difficulties. She forged a path that we continue to follow and honor through our own commitment to Jewish women’s education, self-actualization and community.
Ashton, Dianne. Rebecca Gratz: Women’s Judaism in Antebellum America. Wayne State University Press, 1997.
Rachel Kagan (1888–1982)
With this cup we honor Rachel Kagan, a woman who was dedicated to ensuring the rights and freedom of women in the newly founded State of Israel. Born in Odessa in 1888, Kagan was educated in secular and religious schools. She went on to study mathematics at the Universities of Odessa and Petrograd. In 1919, Kagan and her husband, Dr. Noah Cohen, immigrated to Palestine and settled in Haifa. Kagan was an outspoken member of the Union of Hebrew Women for Equal Rights in Eretz Yisrael, advocating tirelessly for women’s suffrage. Kagan was also active in a nascent women’s social service organization, working on behalf of needy families. With Hadassah women in the diaspora, she founded the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) and was elected as its first president. In her capacity as president of WIZO, Rachel Kagan was one of two women to sign the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Kagan was elected to the first Knesset of the State of Israel as the sole representative of the women’s party formed by WIZO and the Union of Hebrew Women for Equal Rights. She was also elected to the fifth Knesset on the Liberal ticket.. Until her death, Kagan remained a sharp critic of modern Israel. She warned repeatedly that the country was not paying enough attention to bridging diverse ethnic groups, leveling economic disparities and educating its youth about the vision of their parents. She expressed deep frustration with a political system that prevented women from wielding significant influence.
Yishai, A female character in the Book of Judges who is instrumental in the Israelites' obtaining the victory that Deborah had prophesied. When she encountered the enemy king Sisera, Yael invites him into her tent. She feeds him milk to make him drowsy and, when he fell asleep, she murders him by driving a tent peg through his temple.. Between the Flag and the Banner: Women in Israeli Politics. Albany: State of University Press, 1997; Feuerstein, Emil. Women Who Made History: 40 Portraits of Chalutzot in Eretz Israel. Ministry of Defense, 1989.
Emma Lazarus (1849–1887)
This cup is dedicated to the memory of Emma Lazarus. Lazarus was born in New York City in 1849, the daughter of an Jew of Eastern European descent. The term also refers to the practices and customs associated with this community, often in contrast to Sephardic (Southern European) traditions. mother and Jews of Spanish descent; sometimes used to describe Jews of North-African and Middle-Eastern descent. The term also describes the customs and practices of these Jews, often in comparison to those of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews. father whose families had been in America since colonial times. Comfortable in their American identity, Lazarus’ parents gave her a secular education. Thus, as she explained in 1877, while her “interest and sympathies were loyal to [her] race. . . [her] religious convictions and the circumstances of [her] life” had led her to feel “somewhat apart from [her] people.” All this changed when, moved by the plight of Russian Jews in the 1880s, Lazarus, already a published poet of acclaim and a member of the New York cultural elite, began to educate herself as a Jew. She published Songs of a Semite, a collection of poetry with Jewish themes. She wrote essays challenging her non-Jewish readers to reject their anti-semitism, while urging her Jewish audiences to join her in taking an active role in aiding immigrants to America and supporting the resettlement of Palestine. She became involved in helping new immigrants to New York and was inspired by her experience at the port in Castle Gardens to write the now celebrated poem “The New Colossus.” In this poem, Lazarus gives voice to the Statue of Liberty, personifying her as a Mother of Exiles who proclaims “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Emma Lazarus’ life was cut short tragically by cancer but her words remain as a testament to her passionate embrace of and struggle with her multiple identities as a writer, a woman, an American and a Jew.
Nehama Leibowitz (1905–1997)
With this cup we celebrate Nehama Leibowitz, a Torah scholar and teacher who helped countless Jews feel excited about their connection to the Jewish people. Leibowitz was born in 1905 in Riga. She earned a doctorate in Bible Studies from the University of Berlin and in 1931, she and her husband immigrated to Palestine. There she began teaching Bible at the Lit. Eastern The adjective describing the origin of Jews of North African or Middle Eastern descent. Women’s Teachers’ Seminar in Lit. City of peace From the time of David to the Roman destruction, Jerusalem was the capital of Israel and the spiritual and governmental center of the Jewish people. During the long exile, Jews longed to return to Jerusalem and wrote poems, prayers, and songs about the beloved city. In 1967, with the capture of the Old City, Jerusalem was reunited, becoming "the eternal capital of Israel." Still, the longing for peace is unfulfilled.. Leibowitz transmitted to tens of thousands of students the value of the Bible in their everyday lives. She gave a weekly lesson over Israel Radio and distributed self-instruction study guides with questions about the weekly portion. Leibowitz’s studies and study guides covering the entire Torah have been published and translated into English, French, Spanish and Dutch. In 1957, the year she joined the faculty of Tel Aviv University, Leibowitz was awarded the coveted Israel Prize for her contributions to education. In 1982 she received the Bialik Prize in Literature and Jewish Studies. An unpretentious woman, when she received an honorary doctorate from Bar-Ilan University, she remarked that she was pleased that a Melamed, a simple teacher, would be so honored. By the time Leibowitz died at the age of 92 on April 12, 1997, her influence and contributions were recognized by rabbis and scholars around the world. We raise our cup in honor of Nehama Leibowitz, a female pioneer, teacher and role model in the study of Torah, and we rededicate ourselves to continued learning.
“Nehama Leibowitz” Jerusalem Report. April 14 1997.
Rachel Luzzatto Morpurgo (1790–1871)
We honor Rachel Luzzatto Morpurgo, the first woman to write and publish modern Hebrew poetry. Rachel Luzzatto was born in Trieste, Italy in 1790 into a family of scholars and mystics. She was educated by her uncles who taught her not only Bible, commentaries and philosophy, but also the art of lithography. From an early age, she assisted them in the Luzzatto family printing business. And through her teens, quite unusual for a girl, she studied The rabbinic compendium of lore and legend composed between 200 and 500 CE. Study of the Talmud is the focus of rabbinic scholarship. The Talmud has two versions, the main Babylonian version (Bavli) and the smaller Jerusalem version (Yerushalmi). It is written in Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic. and subsequently, mystical texts. She also earned praise as a skillful seamstress, crafting all the clothes for three generations of women in her family. Despite her parents’ wishes, Rachel Luzzatto refused many offers of marriage and waited until she was 29 to marry Lit. heel Jacob is the third patriarch, son of Isaac and Rebecca, and father to the twelve tribes of Israel. More than any of the other patriarchs, Jacob wrestles with God and evolves from a deceitful, deal-making young man to a mature, faithful partner to God. His Hebrew name is Yaakov. Morpurgo. The demands of managing a household and four small children made it difficult for her to write, and Jacob strongly disapproved of her scholarly activities. But she was determined to continue composing verses in celebration of family and community milestones, and she wrote late at night and on The new moon, which marks the beginning of the Jewish month. According to tradition, because women did not participate in the sin of the golden calf, they were given the holiday of Rosh Chodesh. It is customary for women not to work on Rosh Chodesh., when women were traditionally exempted from housework. Morpurgo was honored by her contemporaries who sought her literary opinion even though some confessed disbelief when they first discovered the gender of the poet whose rich Hebrew cadences they admired. Even her husband finally acknowledged her achievements with pride. As we bless this cup, we remember Rachel Luzzatto Morpugo, a woman of spirit and skill, whose poetry transcends time, geography and personal circumstance.
Adelman, Howard. “Finding Women’s Voices in Italian Jewish Literature” in Judith R. Baskin, ed. Women of the Word: Jewish Women and Jewish Writing. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994.
Dona Gracia Nasi (1510–1569)
With this cup we remember La Señora, Ha-Giveret, Dona Gracia Nasi, who brought the children of Israel out from the burdens of secrecy and fear. Her birth-name was Beatrice de Luna. Born thirteen years after the Inquisition expelled all Jews from Portugal, Beatrice de Luna was raised by a prosperous Jewish family that chose to become Marranos – outwardly Christian, secretly Jews. Yet even as a young married woman, she began using her wealth and contacts to help other Marranos escape persecution. Rescue became her life’s work. Although she was a successful businesswoman, Beatrice was arrested once and forced to relocate several times until she finally found safe haven under the protection of the Duke of Ferrara in Italy. There she took the name Gracia (the equivalent of her Hebrew name Hannah is the mother of the prophet Samuel, who, through her prayers, is rewarded a child. She herself is also considered a prophet. Hannah's intense devotional style of prayer becomes the model, in rabbinic Judaism, for prayer in general.) and at age 35, began to live openly as a Jew. She expanded both her business and rescue activities and became a renowned patron of Jewish letters. The Ferrara Bible, a 1553 translation from Hebrew to Spanish, is dedicated to “the Very Magnificent Lady” whose “merits have always earned her the most sublime place among our people.”
Henry, S. and Taitz, E. Written Out of History: Our Jewish Foremothers. Fresh Meadows: Biblio Press, 1983.
Pauline M. Newman (1890?–1986)
We raise this cup in honor of Pauline M. Newman. Newman was born to religious parents in Kovno, Lithuania sometime around 1890. In 1901, Newman’s widowed mother immigrated to America with her children. Nine-year old Newman went to work in a New York City hairbrush factory. Two years later, she began working among other children in the “kindergarten” at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. At the age of sixteen Newman planned and led a rent strike involving 10,000 families in lower Manhattan. It was the largest rent strike New York City had seen, and it catalyzed decades of tenant activism that eventually led to the establishment of rent control. Once Newman’s talent for organizing became apparent, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union hired her. For more than seventy years she worked for the Union as an organizer, labor journalist, health educator and government liaison. An acerbic woman whose unorthodox tastes ran to cropped hair and tailored tweed jackets, Newman loved the labor movement. She referred to the ILGWU as her “family” and believed that it was, for all its flaws, the best hope for women garment workers. Newman’s “family” also embraced a cross-class circle of women reformers that included Eleanor Roosevelt, Rose Schneiderman and Frieda Miller, Newman’s partner of fifty-six years. This circle of women shaped the body of laws and government protections that most workers now take for granted.
Orleck, Annelise. Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working-Class Politics 1900-1965. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.
Bertha Pappenheim (1859–1936)
This cup is dedicated to the memory of Bertha Pappenheim, a woman who worked hard to free herself from personal obstacles and went on to make a significant contribution to the lives of European Jewish women. Raised in a wealthy Orthodox family in mid-19th century Vienna, Bertha Pappenheim was struck with paralysis as a young woman, after nursing her father through a long terminal illness. Under the care of Jacob's eldest son by his beloved wife, Rachel. Joseph, the dreamer, was his father's favorite and nearly murdered by his brothers. Sold into slavery, he became viceroy of Egypt where he ultimately saves the Egyptians and also his own family from starvation. His Hebrew name is Yosef/ Breuer, a colleague of Freud’s, she devised a “talking cure” for herself, and as “Anna O,” sparked the development of psychoanalysis. She then turned her extraordinary energies to the needs of other women. Infuriated by the disenfranchisement of women in the German Jewish community, she founded the Judischer Frauenbund, the first Jewish organization to fight for women’s civil and religious rights. “The People of the Book locked women out of Jewish spirituality,” she said, and she considered the exclusion of Jewish women from learning a sin. To give the next generation of Jews greater access to their legacy, she translated the memoirs of one of her own ancestors, Glikl of Hameln. Deeply committed to social service, Pappenheim took as her lifelong cause the plight of homeless Jewish women. She travelled tirelessly through Eastern Europe, Greece and Turkey, visiting brothels where destitute Jewish women were forced to work. She consulted with doctors, social workers and the police. She campaigned strenuously among the male leadership of local Jewish communities, urging them to address the effects of poverty and social dislocation on Jewish women and their children. Issuing a bitter public report in 1904, Pappenheim rose to international prominence for her relief work and vocational education. In 1907, she founded Isenberg, Europe’s first Jewish shelter and group home for single mothers and their children and for girls escaping prostitution. She ran this home for what she called her “Sisyphus work” for 29 years, personally helping thousands of women.
Henry, S. and Taitz, E. Written Out of History: Our Jewish Foremothers. Fresh Meadows: Biblio Press, 1983.
Justine Wise Polier (1903–1987)
This cup is dedicated to Justine Wise Polier, a visionary family court judge and committed social activist who, with her own outstretched arms and great judgments, aided countless disadvantaged children in New York City and beyond. Polier was born in 1903 to Rabbi Stephen Wise and Louise Waterman Wise, parents who raised her to embrace her responsibility to social justice as a Jew and an American. Throughout her college and law school years, she became increasingly involved in helping workers unionize. She aided strikers in the Passaic textile mills throughout the 1920s. The first woman ever appointed as Judge in the State of New York, Justine Wise Polier was sworn in as a justice of New York’s Domestic Relations Court in 1935. She espoused an activist concept of the law and pioneered the establishment of mental health, educational, and other rehabilitative services for troubled children. She also took a leading role in opposing racial and religious discrimination in public and private facilities. As a committed Jewish leader, Polier spoke out against anti-semitism, urging Jews to lead the battle for human rights for all minorities. Together with her husband, Polier shaped the American Jewish Congress’ policy on many progressive issues. After she retired from the Lit. To bless. From the Yiddish ''bentshn.'', Polier continued to work on behalf of disadvantaged children through the Wiltwyck Home and School for Boys, the Citizens Committee for Children and the Children’s Defense Fund.
Rose Schneiderman (1884–1972)
This cup honors Rose Schneiderman, a 4 foot 9 inches tall red-headed union organizer whose powerful speeches and activism inspired countless women and men to envision better lives. Rose Schneiderman arrived in New York City from Poland in 1890 as an eight-year-old with her parents and three younger brothers. Five years later, due to her father’s death, Schneiderman was forced to quit school to help support her family. Her first job in a department store demanded sixty-four hours of work for subsistence wages. It was at her next job as a sewing machine operator that Schneiderman organized the first woman’s local of the Jewish socialist union United Cloth, Hat, Cap and Millinery Workers. For the next forty-five years, as a leader of the Women’s Trade Union League, Schneiderman organized strikes, trained young leaders, helped negotiate labor disputes and worked to establish continuing education programs for women workers. She was an extremely popular speaker who travelled throughout the country enlisting support for labor and women’s suffrage. She ran for the United Stated Senate in 1920 and was the only woman appointed in Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration in 1933. Her influence, commitment and persistence were crucial in the drafting and passing of key legislation, including: social security, worker’s compensation, the elimination of child labor, maternity leave, safety laws, minimum wage and unemployment insurance. As we drink this cup, we draw inspiration from Rose Schneiderman, who once proclaimed “what the working woman wants is the right to live, not simply exist. The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.”
Orleck, Annelise. Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working-Class Politics 1900-1965. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.
Manya Wilbushewitch Shochat (1880–1961)
With this cup we honor Manya Wilbushewitch Shochat. Manya Wilbushewitch, daughter of middle-class Russian Jewish parents, was first exposed to revolutionary ideas while working as a carpenter in her brother’s factory in Minsk. Imprisoned in 1899 because of her contacts in revolutionary circles, she became convinced that a Jewish workers’ movement would lead to an extension of Jewish civil rights. The charismatic, outspoken young woman participated in the founding of the Jewish Independent Labor Party, which collapsed a few years later in the wake of the Kishinev pogrom. Visiting Palestine in 1904, Shochat concluded that only through collective agricultural settlement could a class of Jewish workers emerge, a pre-condition for building a Jewish homeland. She returned to Palestine in 1907 to help establish the country’s first ideologically-based cooperative agricultural settlement at Sejera. A year later, with Israel Shochat whom she later married, she helped found HaShomer, a network for the training and support of guards for the increasing number of Jewish settlements. When they extended their work to the creation of a Jewish militia, the Shochats were deported by Turkish authorities. Returning to Palestine in 1919, Manya and Israel Shochat devoted their energies to building the infrastructure of a workers’ state. In 1930, Manya Shochat was among the founders of the League for Arab-Jewish Friendship. By the end of her life, the worker’s settlements she envisioned had been realized in kibbutzim and moshavim across Israel.
Shazar, Rachel Katznelson, ed. The Plough Woman: Memoirs of Pioneer Women of Palestine. New York: Herzl Press, 1975.
Hannah Greenebaum Solomon (1858–1942)
With this cup, we honor Hannah Greenebaum Solomon, the visionary leader who founded the National Council of Jewish Women, the first national Jewish women’s organization in the United States. Hannah Greenebaum Solomon was born in 1858 in Chicago. By the time she was chosen to organize the Jewish Women’s Congress at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Solomon had become a prominent leader in secular women’s circles and in the Jewish community. It was at the close of the Jewish Women’s Congress that The National Council of Jewish Women was founded with the goal of promoting social justice, Jewish education and philanthropy. Solomon was unanimously chosen as its first president. In the next decades, Solomon worked through the NCJW to provide women with Jewish education, unprecedented opportunities for leadership and avenues for helping immigrants. Solomon also founded Chicago’s Bureau of Personal Service, which along with NCJW, pioneered social service programs before the establishment of a coordinated Jewish philanthropic effort in Chicago. A friend and colleague of Susan B. Anthony and Jane Adams, Solomon was a an outspoken advocate for women’s suffrage and women’s rights worldwide and the founder of a girls’ school in Chicago. Solomon was also a proud liberal Jew, the first woman to speak from many pulpits in America. Wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, Solomon modeled a life in which extensive community involvement coexisted with a deep commitment to family.
Rogow, Faith. Gone to Another Meeting. University of Alabama Press, 1993. See also: www.jwa.org.
Henrietta Szold (1860–1945)
With this cup we celebrate Henrietta Szold, a towering figure in 20th century history. Born into the German Jewish community in Baltimore in 1860, Henrietta Szold spent the first decades of her life under the tutelage of her father, an erudite European Rabbi. Under the nom de plume Shulamit, she published articles on Jewish life. Profoundly influenced by the Russian Jews who arrived in Baltimore in the 1880s, Szold opened a night school for immigrants and along with her father, joined one of the first Zionist study circles in America. After her father’s death, Szold and her mother and sister moved to New York so that she could study at the Jewish Theological Seminary where she was accepted under the condition that she would not pursue a rabbinic diploma. She continued to work as the primary editor for the Jewish Publication Society while editing and translating manuscripts for Seminary faculty. In 1909, when she was close to fifty, she took her first trip to Palestine. On her return she founded Hadassah, a women’s Zionist organization dedicated “to healing the body and soul” of the Jewish people. A brilliant organizer and educator, Szold spent the next decades of her life building a comprehensive health care and social welfare system in Palestine. In the final years of her life she directed Youth Lit. Ascending Being called up to recite the blessing before and after a Torah reading. Also, a term used upon moving to Israel (i.e., making aliyah), which helped to save and resettle close to 50,000 Jewish children from Nazi occupied Europe. As we raise this cup in honor of Henrietta Szold, we recall the charge she once gave a group of Hadassah women, “dare to dream – and when you dream, dream big.”
Antler, Joyce. The Journey Home: Jewish Women and the American Century. Free Press, 1997.
Lillian D. Wald (1867–1940)
We dedicate this cup to the memory of Lillian D. Wald who, throughout her life, stretched out her arms and heart in the service of creating a more just society for America’s underprivileged. Born in Rochester, New York in 1867, Lillian D. Wald might have said that her life truly began twenty six years later, when as a young nurse, she visited a poor family in a crumbling tenement on the Lower East Side. The largely Jewish immigrant population was in dire need of affordable health care and Wald, through pioneering public health nursing, was going to offer it. During the next decades, Wald founded the Visiting Nurse Service of New York and the Henry Street Settlement, institutions that continue to improve the quality of life for residents of New York City today. Championing the causes of nursing, unionism, tenement reform, women’s suffrage, child welfare, and antimilitarism, Wald became a major civic figure in local, national and international arenas. Her commitment to the health of individuals at home became increasingly connected to a concern for the health of nations throughout the world. As we bless this cup, we remember the legacy of Lillian Wald, drawing inspiration from this woman who remained throughout her life “consecrated to the saving of human life, the promotion of happiness and the expansion of good will among people.”
“Lillian Wald,” by Marjorie Feld in Hyman and Moore, eds. Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge, 1997.
The Journey Continues: The Ma’yan Lit. "Telling.” The haggadah is the book used at the seder table on Passover to tell the story of the Exodus, the central commandment of the holiday. It is rich in song, prayer, and legend. There are many different version of the Haggadah produced throughout Jewish history. can be purchased for $12 + $4 s/h by emailing Ma’yan, firstname.lastname@example.org.
From The Journey Continues: The Ma’yan Haggadah