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Jewish Women and Their Accomplishments

The contributions of Jewish women throughout history have been significant and life-changing. Without them, where do you think we would be today?

Judith Resnikwas a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University. She was an astronaut and was on the Challenger when it exploded after take off on January 28, 1986. Resnik was the first Jewish-American astronaut, the first Jewish woman astronaut, and the second American female astronaut. She was also the second Jewish person to go into space.

Sarah Schnirer lived from 1883 – 1935 and, as a young woman, was deeply devoted to the study of Torah. She was a pioneer in Jewish education for girls. In 1918, she opened her first girl’s religious school known as Bet Yaacov. Girls’ Jewish education would not be where it is today with Sarah Schnirer.

Ruth Abrams served on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for twenty-two years. She was the first woman to do so. She attended Harvard Law School and was one of 13 women to graduate in her class. Abrams was a self-defined feminist and fought for issues supporting gender equality, the rights of minorities, and families.

Renee Brant is one of the founding members of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. During her medical training, she became interested in the issue of women and children exploitation. Brant developed hospital protocols and educational programs for the response to and treatment of sexual abuse. She is a child psychiatrist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

On the night after she died, the lights on Broadway were dimmed for Wendy Wasserstein. She was a playwright and won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1989 for her play The Heidi Chronicles. Wasserstein covered issues of feminism, family, and ethnicity in her writing.

Senda Berenson is known as “the Mother of Women’s Basketball”. She lived from 1868 – 1954 and revolutionized women’s basketball while teaching at Smith College. This occurred during a time period when women did not play team sports. Berenson adapted the men’s game of basketball, wrote down the rules, and began to share the game.

Another inspiring Jewish feminist is Betty Friedan. She was the first president of the National Organization for Women whose mission was to bring women into mainstream society. Freidan fought for opportunity for women. She attended Smith College and is well known for her publication of the controversial The Feminine Mystique.

Like Esther, Rachel, and Deborah before them – these Jewish women stood for change, opportunity, and equal rights. These are but a few of the Jewish women who have impacted our lives throughout time.

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