Decades after some of the books written by these women were published, they continue to inspire women of all faiths and cultures to step and fight for the cause.
One week from today marks 100 years since the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. It’s often called “the fire that changed everything,” because the 146 deaths that it caused — its victims were mostly Jewish and Italian immigrant women — became a catalyst for much of the labor activism that helped bring about sweeping workplace safety reforms. If you haven’t already, check out the Forward’s website devoted to the fire’s legacy — complete with more than a dozen original pieces, multimedia, and 25 translated articles published in the Yiddish Forward in the fire’s immediate aftermath.
Jewish women have a long and storied history in the American labor and worker’s rights movement, from Emma Goldman to Rose Schneiderman to Betty Friedan (yep, she was a union rabble-rouser first) and beyond. This excellent article at the Jewish Women’s Archive gives a partial overview of Jewish women’s involvement in the movement: the good, the bad and the ugly. And our presence in the movement continues today: arguably one of the most visible and controversial union leaders in our country, Randi Weingarten, is herself a Jewish woman.
The results are in from the National Museum of American Jewish History’s poll to select the 18 individuals to be featured in their “Only in America” Hall of Fame. The results are not too surprising. Of the 18, six are women, and their names are familiar to most: Henrietta Szold, Golda Meir, Barbra Streisand, Emma Lazarus, Estee Lauder, and Rose Schneiderman. If you follow the Jewesses With Attitude blog, you’ve probably heard of Rose Schneiderman, as she’s a favorite at Jewish Women’s Archive, but of the six women I would guess she has the least amount of name recognition, so I’m pleased that she made it into the final 18.