Holidays & Celebrations

More Incredible Jewish Women From U.S. History

Last week, our Federation featured a blog about Women’s History Month to highlight four Jewish women throughout the years who have made an impact on our Jewish community and beyond. This week we are proud to share with you four more extraordinary Jewish women below.

Bella Abzug (1920-1998)

Born in New York City, Bella always fought for what she believed in. When she was just 12 years old, her father died. Bella scoffed at the tradition of only a man’s sons reciting Kaddish — so she did it anyway, praying each day for a year in her Orthodox synagogue. She later became a lawyer, a minority as a woman at that time, and helped found Women Strike for Peace to voice her opinion about the Vietnam War. Bella was the first Jewish woman elected to Congress in 1970, where she served three terms and was the premier Congressperson to ask for gay rights. In 1976, she forfeited her seat to run for an all-male Senate — and lost, but by just one percent.

Hannah Greenebaum Solomon (1858-1942)

Hannah and her sister became the first Jewish members of the prestigious Chicago Woman’s Club, which focused on philanthropy and education. Recognizing that there were no national organizations exclusively for Jewish women, Hannah founded the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) in 1893. Within three years, NCJW had more than fifty chapters and over 3,300 members. In 1924, the first NCJW/LA Council Thrift Shop opened to help serve immigrants across Los Angeles. Indirectly, we have Hannah Solomon to thank for these beloved shops! Hannah also worked tirelessly for children’s rights and helped create Chicago’s first Juvenile Court.

Maud Nathan (1862-1946)

When Maud Nathan’s only child died at a young age, she dedicated the rest of her life to activism. She set out to enhance the landscape for employed women in New York City, exposing poor work conditions and spreading awareness. She also was one of the founding members of the New York City Consumers’ League, in which she encouraged people to organize and spend their money responsibly, rather than on companies and industries who were treating their laborers unfairly. In addition, Maud fought for equal suffrage, which she was able to see come to fruition for women in 1920.

Lillian Wald (1867-1940)

Lillian Wald was a nurse who truly wanted to make a difference. After discovering the despicable conditions of the Lower East Side’s tenements, she established the Visiting Nurses Service in 1893, both treating and educating residents about their health. Later that year she founded the Henry Street Settlement, a nonprofit social service agency, for which she provided health care to local residents on a pay-what-you-can basis. In 1902, Lillian convinced the school system to hire New York’s premier school nurse, who treated nearly 900 students in her first month. Like her contemporary Maud Nathan, Lillian was also an advocate for women’s working conditions. In addition, she was one of the founding members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), among other civil rights organizations.

We hope that you will join us in recognizing and honoring the Jewish women above as well as the Jewish women in your life — today and every day!