Biographical & Bibliographical Notes
Bella One of the most influential American women of the 20th century and the second Jewish woman elected to the U.S. Congress, Abzug's deep ties to Judaism emmanated from her extended family of Russian immigrants. Never afraid to take controversial positions, she was a fierce advocate of peace and woman's rights and became a prominent national speaker against poverty, racisim, and violence in America. In 1970, she was elected to Congress on a woman's rights/peace platform. Her first vote was for the Equal Rights Amendment; she served two terms. She was a co-founder of the National Women's Political Caucus, the Women's Strike for Peace, and the Coalition for a Democratic Alternative. Born Bella Savitsky on July 24, 1920, she died in 1998.
Born Elizabeth Cohen somewhere between 1915 and 1919, Comden, along with her lifetime friend and partner Adolph Green, created some of America's best loved stage and film musicals, from On the Town to Singin' in the Rain to The Will Rogers Follies. She has been a powerful force in American theater since the 1940s. Among the partners' awards are five Tonys, a Grammy and an Obie. Comden has been inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Theater Hall of Fame.
Born in 1905 into a theatrical family, this daughter of the famed vaudevillian Lew Fields fortunately did not listen to his warnings against a life in show business. With composer Jimmy McHugh she created such hits as "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "Sunny Side of the Street," and "I'm in the Mood for Love." She and her brother Herbert created the libretto for the musical Annie Get Your Gun. Her stories of persevering young women produced shows like Redhead, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Sweet Charity. Fields was the first female lyricist to receive an Oscar (1936), an Antoinette Perry Award (1959), and membership in the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1971).
Born in Hamburg in 1645 into a prominent patrician family, she was married off to Chayim (asa Chaim) of Hameln at fourteen. She became Chayim's adviser in all practical matters, even while bearing and raising their twelve children. After his death in 1689, though carrying on his business and financial enterprises, she became depressed. In an attempt to overcome her loss, she wrote a diary, a memoir of her life, begun when she was forty- six. Glckel's writings became incredibly important to historians because they are the only surviving Jewish document about that period written by a woman.
Hellman's childhood was spent alternately with her father's family in New Orleans' Garden District, where she was born on June 20, 1905, and her mother's family, the upper middle class Newhouses of New York. In 1925 she was a reader of film scenarios in Hollywood, where she met Dashiell Hammett, with whom she remained attached romantically and professionally until his death in 1960. In 1952, subpoenaed to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, her famous response was: "I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions." She won two Drama Critics Circle Awards and, for her first memoir, An Unfinished Woman (1969), a National Book Award. A screenwriter as well, she also wrote the book for the 1957 musical Candide, for which Leonard Bernstein composed the music. Hellman was one of the first internationally known women playwrights. She died of cardiac arrest on June 30, 1984, at her summer home in Martha's Vineyard.
The author of eight novels, she is best known for Fear of Flying: in print in 27 languages, it has sold approximately 12 million copies worldwide. Also a poet, Jong has taught literature and writing at several universities and has received many honors. Born Emily Mann in 1942 and raised on Manhattan's Upper West Side, she attended New York's prestigious High School of Music and Art, Barnard College and Columbia University, where she earned her M.A. in Eighteenth-century English Literature. Jong lives in New York City and Weston, Connecticut.Bibliographical References
Born in 1916, she became a lawyer who specialized in fighting for civil rights, especially those of black people and of all women. She is still living (in New York) and speaking out for equal rights and the ERA.
Born on February 9, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York, her family name was Klein. A proficient pianist from the age of four, by her early teens she was a prolific songwriter. When friend and neighbor Neil Sedaka embarked on his recording career, she followed him to the New York milieu where, as a student at Queen's College, she met future partner and husband, lyricist Gerry Goffin. Working as a team, they scored such pop classics as the Shirelles "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," Bobby Vees "Take Good Care Of My Baby," the Drifters "Up On The Roof," and Little Evas "The Locomotion." In 1967 they dissolved their partnership. She moved to Los Angeles and began a solo career singing as well as song writing. Her second album, Tapestry, sold in excess of 10 million copies and established King as a major player in her field.
Born in 1849 in New York City, she is best know for her sonnet about America, "The New Colossus," engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Her interest in Jewish problems was awakened by George Eliot's novel, Daniel Deronda, and was reinforced by the Russian pogroms of 1881-82. Inspired, she began publishing translations of the great medieval Spanish-Jewish poets. Her essays in Century Magazine in reply to anti-Semitic attacks praised her fellow Jews as pioneers of progress and expressed her joy in belonging to a people who were the victims rather than the perpetrators of massacres. She died in 1887.
A legend in her own time, Meir was one of the few women in the world to have led a nation. Her compassion for the needy, her sense of equity, and her efforts at peace-making were characteristics apparent even when she was a youngster growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Born to Moshe and Bluma Mabovitch in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 3, 1898, the family emigrated in 1906. After a teaching career in the U.S., she and her husband, Morris Meyerson, settled in Palestine (1921), first on a kibbutz, then in Tel Aviv, where she devoted herself to the Histadrut, the national labor confederation. She was appointed to many important posts, was one of the signatories of the Declaration of the Establishment of Israel on May 14, 1948, and, in 1969, became Israels fourth prime minister, a position she held until 1974, when she stepped down. Particularly remembered for her eloquent appeals for peace at the United Nations and her country-saving fund-raising efforts in the United States, Meir has acquired folk-hero status, and is ingrained in the public's imagination as a bobe figure who rose to greatness in her nation's hour of need. Meir died in Jerusalem on December 8, 1978.
Born on October 18, 1947 in the Bronx, songwriter-singer Nyro was the daughter of an accomplished jazz trumpeter. She reputedly completed her first composition when she was eight years old. Her main influences ranged from Bob Dylan to John Coltrane, though her talents seem more akin to songwriters Carole King and Ellie Greenwich. Nyro's empathy for soul and R&B enhanced her individuality. She retired from music briefly, but re-emerged in 1975 upon the disintegration of her marriage. Nyro remains a singularly impressive performer whose influence is widespread. She died on April 8, 1997.
The highly accomplished writer was born in New York City on April 17, 1928. Her parents, pharmacists, were Russian immigrants who embraced the Litvak tradition of skepticism, rationalism, and antimysticism--as opposed to the exuberant emotionalism of the Hasidic community. At the age of five, Ozick entered heder for religious instruction where the rabbi told her bobe, "Take her home; a girl doesn't have to study." Ozick is especially grateful to her grandmother for bringing her back to school the very next day, insisting that she be accepted, dates her feminism to that time. Some of her works have included The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories, The Puttermesser Papers and Fame and Folly: Essays. Ozick has won half a dozen coveted awards and grants, including both a Guggenheim and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She has received several honorary doctorates and was invited to deliver the Phi Beta Kappa Oration at Harvard University.
She was born in 1893 to a Jewish father (Rothschild) and a Scottish mother who died when Parker was five years old; her father remarried a strict Roman Catholic, whom Dorothy bitterly disliked. Parker always maintained an image of herself as an outsider and often said of herself that she was "just a little Jewish girl trying to be cute." Her first volume of poetry, Enough Rope (1926), became an instant best-seller. She became a core member of the celebrated "Algonquin Round Table." Her acerbic and irreverent sense of humor marked Parker's work with uniqueness and made it memorable. She died in 1967.
The ground breaking writings experiments of Stein reflect her genius for toying with language and its meanings. She hails from Allegheny, Pennsylvania, where she was born in 1874, the seventh child of German immigrants. By age seventeen both her parents had died. She earned a B.A. magna cum laude at the Harvard Annex (later Radcliffe College), then studied briefly at Johns Hopkins Medical School. In 1903 she and her brother Leo left for Paris and the art world. The close relationship folded upon Leo’s awareness of his sister’s lesbianism. Alice B. Toklas became Gertrude’s lifelong companion, and their home became a hub for some of the greatest artists and writers of the modern era. In addition to her many books, like The Making of Americans, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, and Everybody's Autobiography, she wrote over seventy-six operas and plays, winning an Obie in 1964 for Four Saints in Three Acts . She died in 1946.
Born March 25, 1934, in Toledo, Ohio, the young Steinem was left to care for both herself and her mother after her parents’ divorce . Upon graduating Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Smith College in 1956, she spent two years in India where she became involved with the nonviolent protest movement. She returned to the States with a new awareness of social and political issues. Starting out as a freelance journalist, in 1968 she joined the founding staff of New York magazine, writing the column "City Politic." In the late 60s she became one of feminism’s most articulate and outspoken leaders. She helped form the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971 and, the following year, launched Ms. magazine, serving as its editor for the next 15 years. She’s written several books, notable Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellion and Revolution From Within, and has lectured world-wide. In September 2000, Steinem was married for the first time, at the age of 66, to David Bale, a South African-born entrepreneur.
One of the first Americans to work actively for a return of the Jewish homeland in Palestine, Szold, who was born in Baltimore on December 21, 1860, defined a new identity for American Jewish women as communal leaders and as providers of health care and social services in the land of Israel. Among her many contributions were the founding of Hadassah, the National Women's Zionist Organization of America (1912), and the directing of Youth Aliya, whose goal was to bring young Jews to Eretz Israel. Through her accomplishments, Szold achieved international prominence as an educator, social reformer and Zionist. She moved to Jerusalem in 1920. Although childless herself, she was "mother" to the thousands of young refugees from Nazi Germany saved from the Holocaust. She died on February 14, 1945.
Singer and entertainer, born Sophie Abuza in Russia in 1884 and brought to the U.S.A. as a child, she first performed in vaudeville in blackface, singing ragtime melodies. She almost stole the show in the Ziegfield Follies of 1909. She helped popularize songs of black composers such as Eubie Blake and was also known for racy lyrics. She appeared in several stage and movie musicals, but was especially known as a nightclub torch singer. A unionist, she served as president of the American Federation of Actors in 1938. "The Last of the Red-Hot Mamas," as she billed herself in later years, died in 1966.
The performance artist-comedian describes her humor as a mix between her California cosmic right brain and her Philadelphia Jewish left brain. Born Marlena Weinstock in Philadelphia in 1943, she started performing under the name Maurey Haydn in Greenwich Village in the mid-Sixties. After the 1966 death of her boyfriend, famed comic Lenny Bruce, she reclaimed the name Weinstock, but traded in "Marlena" for "Lotus". Her heyday was at Los Angeles’ Comedy Store in the mid-70s. She died of a malignant brain tumor in August 1997 at 54. Her daughter, Lili Hayden, is a classically trained pop violinist.
Born in 1921, she was raised and lives in New York City. By seventh grade, Rosalyn Sussman was committed to mathematics. She graduated Hunter College with honors and degrees in chemistry and physics. Yalow overcame great odds and discrimination by being the only woman among four hundred men at the University of Illinois College of Engineering Physics Department. She got her Ph.D. in nuclear physics. Beginning in 1950, she worked at the Bronx Veterans' Hospital laboratory with Dr. Sol Bernson. They discovered how to measure small amounts of hormones in the human body by using radioisotopes. The method is called RIA and it revolutionized the vital need to determine the amount of foreign material in the blood. Yalow was first woman to receive the Albert Lasker Award (1976) and the second woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Medicine (1977).