Movin’ and Groovin’

Moving and Grooving

Easter 33

 

They sound like the newest species of gremlins – therbligs.  Just hearing the name makes me expect to hear immediately after – “Coming to a movie screen near you this summer!”  And then the imagination starts to take off.  If gremlins were cute albeit frightening little fuzz balls with adorable faces, at least at first, what would a therblig look like?  The good news is that they are not as scary as the little fuzzy creatures in the 1984 film.  You also don’t have to wait until summer because you are already doing a therblig.  And you don’t have to excuse yourself or even close the door!

 

A therblig is any of a basic set of actions that can be evaluated when doing a manual task.  For instance, if I were writing this with a pencil or pen instead of typing on a keyboard, there would be a series of motions involved.  First, I would need to look for the writing implement or do a “search”.  The therblig symbol for this was a type of emoticon – a picture of an eye with the pupil looking to one corner.  Once I found my pen or pencil, the motion would then become “find” and the therblig indicated by an eye with the pupil looking straight ahead.  Then I would need to pick up or “grasp” the object, indicated by a therblig that resembles an upside-down letter “u” and hold said object as indicated by the upside-down “u” resting on a line.  Of course, to write, my pen or pencil would need to be properly placed, the therblig for that being the bottom half of a semi-circle with a line near the bottom third connecting the two sides, and then positioned, the therblig for which is a cursive number 9 at a slight slant.  Finally I would be ready to make a mark on my paper with my pen or pencil and that therblig is the right-side-up letter “u”, easy to remember because it so easily relates to the process “use”.

 

We seldom think about the steps involved in doing something until we can no longer do them.  Freedoms are a lot like that.  Currently discussions in the United States revolve around using public restrooms.  There are a great many steps involved in doing this but what is of greatest discussion currently is perhaps one of the least important in the entire process – the issue of gender assignment.  With all that is going on in the world, for some reason, this has taken front page news, although no evidence exists as to the validity of such concerns.   The importance of being able to eliminate body wastes is nothing to take lightly; I just think we do not need a therblig for this.

 

Therblig are the brain child of a husband and wife team and the name comes from their family name being reversed – Gilbreth.  (Yes, the last two characters were kept as they were in the actual name.)  Lillian Moller Gilbreth worked alongside her husband Frank Bunker Gilbreth for twenty years until his death in 1924 and carried on their work afterwards.

 

The process of evaluating motion was a major component in the Gilbreth study of organizational effectiveness and energy efficacy.  Two of their children explained in a book they wrote about their family entitled “Cheaper by the Dozen”:   “…Suppose a man goes into a bathroom and shave. We’ll assume that his face is all lathered and that he is ready to pick up his razor. He knows where the razor is, but first he must locate it with his eye. That is “search”, the first Therblig. His eye finds it and comes to rest — that’s “find”, the second Therblig. Third comes “select”, the process of sliding the razor prior to the fourth Therblig, “grasp.” Fifth is “transport loaded,” bringing the razor up to his face, and sixth is “position,” getting the razor set on his face. There are eleven other Therbligs — the last one is “think”!”

 

Frank Gilbreth himself described sixteen of what would become eighteen elements this way in a 1915 article.  “The elements of a cycle of decisions and motions, either running partly or wholly concurrently with other elements in the same or other cycles, consist of the following, arranged in varying sequences: 1. Search, 2. Find, 3. Select, 4. Grasp, 5. Position, 6. Assemble, 7. Use, 8. Dissemble, or take apart, 9. Inspect, 10. Transport, loaded,  11. Pre-position for next operation, 12. Release load, 13. Transport, empty,  14. Wait (unavoidable delay),  15. Wait (avoidable delay),  16. Rest (for overcoming fatigue).”

 

Lillian Moller was a quiet child and homeschooled until the age of nine.  She thought herself plain and devoted her time to her studies before meeting and marrying Frank Gilbreth in 1904.  The two were equal partners in everything although Lillian’s name was always omitted from published works because of her gender.  The couple had twelve children and Lillian was not only a working mother but became a single working mother after her husband’s death.  Her struggles to continue their work are hilariously documented in two books written by two of her children, “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “Bells on Their Toes”.  Movies have been made from both books.

 

Lillian Moller Gilbreth was the first female engineer to earn a doctorate degree and still ranks as one of the best engineers in time management in the world today.  More importantly, however, she and her husband saw workers not as simply a means to an end but as human beings.  Their time management studies were not only about producing the best product the fastest way but doing so in a manner that benefitted and helped the worker as well.

 

The Gilbreth method was not limited to the workplace.  By reading the books one can see how their home was also a laboratory for such innovative ideas as timing one’s shower and even group tonsillectomies which would prove time-saving for the surgeon.

 

In 1935, Lillian Moller Gilbreth became the first female to teach engineering at Purdue University.  Although her name was often omitted from their published studies, she was the better educated of the two, earning a degrees in both engineering and educational psychology since industrial engineering had no degree program at the time.

 

It would be difficult to find something we do in our daily living that has not been affected by the therblig method of study on some level.  The type of razors on the market, the ergonomics of automobiles, even the height of kitchen cabinets are all examples and resulting effects of motion studies.  They also all consider the user as a human being and not just a means to an end.

 

The Gilbreth team and Lillian Moller Gilbreth in particular also had a keen sense of humor and lived with intention.  In her book “making Time” Dee Ann Finken wrote of Lillian Gilbreth: “the Gilbreths practiced the earliest form of the discipline, emphasizing the design and improvement of systems related to people, equipment, energy, and other factors.  When husband Frank died at the relatively young age of 55, Lillian took up the reins alone and continued the work they as a couple had pursued. In the process, she became much more than the mother of 12 children and costar of a film.”

 

Living with intention, living efficiently, and living with humor is the legacy of Lillian Moller Gilbreth.  She has always been one of my life heroes – a woman who saw the process but never forgot the humanity for which the process existed.  Too often we get too busy to remember that basic fact.  Everything we do should have a purpose and be done efficiently but it must be done remembering that we are all a part of a greater process called life and that we are all in this life together – none better, all equal in the effort.

 

 

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Proof is in the Pudding

Proof is in the Pudding

Easter 32

 

He is known as one of the leaders of the Romantic period.  Considered one of England’s greatest poets whose personal life was both celebrated and censured, Lord Byron was also father to the world’s first female computer scientist in the mid nineteenth century.

 

Charles Babbage was born in England in 1791.  As a child he contracted a dangerous fever and spent several years with a private tutor and solitude.  In later life he once stated that this time might be responsible for his later “mind reasonings”.  Babbage was a mechanical engineer, inventing the “pilot” or as it is commonly known, the cow-catcher.  This was a metal structure attached to the front of a train locomotive to clear the tracks.

 

Babbage also founded the British Astronomical Society in 1820 and the Analytical Society four years later.  He would later help write the first calculus textbook.  It is his biggest “failure”, though, that he might be best remembered for and which brings us to our female inventor for today.

 

In 1822, Babbage presented a paper the astronomical Society entitled “Note on the application of machinery to the computation of astronomical and mathematical tables.”  Babbage’s Analytical Machine was to be used for calculating polynomials by using a numerical process he termed “the differences method”.  The British government was suitably impressed and eventually gave Babbage almost twenty thousand pounds towards the development of such a device before abandoning it in 1842.

 

Babbage’s device consisted of an analytical machine which used punch cards to specify the input and necessary calculations to determine the desired outcome.  It consisted of two parts which Babbage called the mill and the store, possibly taking these terms from the Jacquard loom which had been the original home of said punch cards.

 

Babbage’s Analytical Machine was no small undertaking.  Its development comprised 500 large design drawings, 1000 sheets of mechanical notation, and 7000 sheets of scribbles. The completed mill would measure 15 feet tall and 6 feet in diameter and the 100 digit store would stretch to 25 feet long.  While the government officially withdrew support, Babbage continued to work on his design.  An Italian mathematician wrote a paper on Babbage’s design which was translated into English by the Countess of Lovelace, Augusta Ada King, daughter of Lord Byron.

 

Ada Lovelace was the only legitimate heir of Lord Byron although her parents were married for a brief time.  He would later die during the Greek War for Independence when Ada was only eight years old.  Because her parents’ marriage had ended bitterly and with acrimony that remained with her mother for the rest of her life, Ada’s interest in mathematics was greatly encouraged as a means of avoiding the “madness” her mother feared she might have inherited from her father.

 

Ada Lovelace considered herself a “poetical scientist” and an “analyst and metaphysician”.  She was only eighteen when she met Charles Babbage and twenty-eight years old when she translated the Italian piece about his work.  She supplanted her translation with a set of her own summations in a work she entitled “Notes”.  Her summarizations are what many in the field consider to be the very first computer program.  Lovelace envisioned an algorithm which would be commutated by a machine, giving her the nickname by which many know her – “Algorithm Enchantress”.

 

Of Babbage’s machine, Ada Lovelace wrote: “Many persons who are not conversant with mathematical studies imagine that because the business of [Babbage’s Analytical Engine] is to give its results in numerical notation, the nature of its processes must consequently be arithmetical and numerical, rather than algebraical and analytical. This is an error. The engine can arrange and combine its numerical quantities exactly as if they were letters or any other general symbols; and in fact it might bring out its results in algebraical notation, were provisions made accordingly,” Lovelace explained.

 

Ada Lovelace foresaw computers as being more than just number-crunching machines.  True to her description of being a “poetical scientist”, she questioned how technology could be used as a collaborative tool with people and nations, even the world.  Her life was cut short at the age of thirty-six and she died of uterine cancer in 1852, a dreamer who might be among the earliest responsible for the computer you use today for more than just number equations.

 

Some have disputed Ada Lovelace’s ability with mathematics but Clearly Charles Babbage gave her due credit in this statement: “Forget this world and all its troubles and if possible its multitudinous Charlatans—everything in short but the Enchantress of Number.”   Babbage also wrote a treatise entitled “On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation”.  In it he posited the idea that God “had the omnipotence and foresight to create as a divine legislator, making laws (or programs) which then produced species at the appropriate times, rather than continually interfering with ad hoc miracles each time a new species was required.”

 

Ada Lovelace’s influence on Charles Babbage was strong and he would eventually see things with her vision.  Babbage was also a cryptographer and deciphered the Vigenère’s autokey cipher.  His discovery was used in English military campaigns and kept a secret which allowed someone else to receive credit even though his findings came after those of Babbage.

 

Clearly for Ada Lovelace the need for being able to convey reality and desired outcomes was important.  She also, however, had the wisdom to go beyond with present and look for future applications, to think outside of the box so to speak.  At the end of the nineteenth century, using both Babbage and Lovelace’s notes, the Analytical Machine was developed and it did work.

 

An algorithm is simply a set of rules or process for which something is accomplished.  I have a friend who is a mathematics instructor and her faith in her students reminds me of Lovelace’s faith in Babbage and in the future.  While her students probably don’t realize it, the algorithms my friend is helping them decipher could very well be the tools for living the rest of their lives.

 

Most of us have a belief system that functions as an algorithm for our own living.  So often we get bogged down in the minutiae of life and fail to see what is happening if it is not what we expected.  We fail to have the patience to look beyond the moment and envision what could be.  We need to have faith in our beliefs and let them work for us and show us the possibilities instead of confining them to that which we have already known.  We need to be poetical visionaries and follow Ada Lovelace’s example in looking beyond.  Pudding was a mistake that tasted delicious.  Sometimes the real value is in the process because the finished result might just be beyond anything we could ever imagine.

 

 

A Science Jedi

The Future Awaits – A Science Jedi

Easter 31

 

Today is the thirty-first day, counting each day as one, of the Easter season.  It is the thirtieth anniversary of Chernobyl, a nuclear reactor plant disaster that occurred in Russia.  The plant remains closed to this day with radiation levels still in the danger zone.

 

This post will discuss the thirty-ninth female inventor and yes, there are many more to come.  I hope by now you have had affirmed or come to the realization that ingenuity is not a gender-related trait.  Humans are a species that is known for determining what needs to be done and then doing it.  Regretfully, sometimes in that quest, things happen as is the case with Chernobyl and the earlier Three Mile Island Accident in Pennsylvania in March, 1979.

 

Science only happens when the experiment goes awry.  When the experiment does what we expected, it confirms what we already knew.  Sometimes an experiment can go awry and, at the same time, ot only provide us with new answers but also confirm old ones.  Chernobyl was one such example.  We are still learning from Chernobyl and the strictly controlled government-blackout on such events in Russia have prevents more knowledge from being obtained.

 

Radiation poisoning was also seen after the bombing of Japanese cities during World War II.  One of the more common side effects has been cancer.  Cancers are caused by many things and radiation poisoning or exposure is just one of many culprits.  Some are habits that are known and yet still practiced, habits like over-exposure to the sun or smoking.

 

In an effect to combat such illnesses, scientists have turned inward to the human body itself in an effect to determine if we can heal ourselves.  A giant step in this effect is stem cell research.  While the topic of stem cells and research surrounding them has become hot button topics for politicians and even some religious zealots, few people really understand exactly what they are.

 

Most of us have seen the Star Wars movie franchise and few can forget the opening of the very first with a narrative scrolling from top to bottom on the large movie screen.  “In a galaxy far, far away….’ Was the beginning of an adventure, a journey in which the immature grew up, the good revealed themselves, the evil was destroyed, and the strongest of the evil were transformed into something good, a legacy from the past that led us into the future… all based upon “the force’, a mysterious power within those who sought it and developed it, a few known as Jedi warriors, protagonists out to save the world.

 

Dr. Ann Tsukamoto is a science nerd, a lady geek, a Jedi warrior when it comes to human illnesses.  Her weapons are the force within all of us, stem cells.  Stem cells are basic cells within the body but unlike most cells, stem cells have the force, the ability to become something more and sometimes, something different.   Composed of the body’s most basic matter, these cells of raw materials can be matured and transformed to create second generation stem cells or daughter cells. 

 

Daughter cells (No, I do not know why they are not called son cells but I think it is because they can give new life, much like a female parent does.   After all, while sons are glorious to have, it is the daughter who continues the family life by giving birth to successive generations.) can either become new stem cells which is called self-renewal or become specific cells with specialized functions. 

 

These daughter cells are differentiated from other stem cells and can become blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle or even bone.  While all cells in the human body have the same basic make-up and structure, stem cells alone are the only ones that can transform into other cells.  There are over two hundred different types of cells in a human body with about twenty different types of structures but daughter cells alone can become a different cell.

 

Dr. Ann Tsukamoto is a leading researcher in the field of stem cells and in helping eradicate many of the issues that plague the human body and lead to early demise.  She currently holds at least seven patents in this field.  Advancements in such diseases as liver and pancreatic cancers are a direct result of her research and techniques.

 

Unfortunately, many of us are not very kind to our bodies.  We delight in partaking of things that are not healthy and we fail to listen to the lessons learned from the past regarding healthy and productive habits.  Researchers such as Ann Tsukamoto are not playing like they are deities, trying to create new life.  They are simply trying to help us all improve and survive the life we have.  Stem cell research is a gateway to better living and we owe a large measure of gratitude to all involved in this field.

 

The future awaits us all but only if we prepare for it.  We must use our own personal force within to live as healthy as we can.  It may not seem exciting but it will be worth it.  There are enough accidents in life that can create havoc with our health without creating chaotic lifestyles.  Fortunately, there are people engaged in stem cell research that are saving lives.  They are not giving us original life but they are helping us preserve the life we have been given by our creator spirit(s).

 

Blot and Drink

Blot and Drink

Easter 30

 

It has been one of those weeks.  Actually it has been just one day and some would say it was a typical Monday but it was so fraught with detours and delays that it really seemed like an entire week had passed in the span of about eight hours.

 

We’ve all had those kinds of days and for me, they always seem to fall on Monday.  Once a very popular hit, the song “Manic Monday” was written by the musical genius and artist known as Prince, the very same one who passed away late last week.  Today my Monday was very manic.

 

In anticipation of Tuesday, I made certain I had coffee because it was almost a certainty that I was going to need some.  While there have been many advancements in coffee pots and makers in the past one hundred and fifty years, they all feature a filter of some kind. 

 

Today’s female inventor led a somewhat traditional lifestyle and yet, thanks to her, we all drink coffee and don’t have to worry about getting coffee grounds in our teeth or stuck in our throat.  In fact, we don’t have to spend hours getting coffee stains out of the linen bags that were used for decades to make coffee.

 

In 1908 Melitta Bentz obtained a patent for her coffee filter, a filter made from her son’s school blotting paper.   Her paper filters were placed in cups with grounds in them.  Hot water was then poured over the grounds, steeped, grounds in filters removed, and people could enjoy a cup of hot coffee without having to make a pot or worry about errant coffee grounds.

 

The company expanded quickly and in 1932 offered workers a five-day work week and health benefits, something quote uncommon at the time.  Today her grandchildren operate her company, the Melitta Group KG with over three thousand workers in fifty companies.

 

This may not seem like a very important invention but after a day like today, even a non-coffee addict like me can appreciate the need for a good cup of hot coffee…without the grounds becoming part of the liquid.  Clearly the success of Melitta Bentz’s idea shows its value.  More importantly, it illustrates the importance of letting women achieve their potential.

 

When we allow young girls to be educated and follow their curiosity, then we all benefit and the world becomes a better place.  “No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee’s frothy goodness.”  This quote from Sheik Abd-al-Kadir illustrates the international following coffee has and one way a person in Germany can affect one living on the other side of the world.

 

We are all in this life together and we need each other.  The importance of allowing individuals to thrive and excel cannot be overstated.  Michelle Obama once stated: ‘Success isn’t about how much money you make.  It’s about the difference you make it people’s lives.”  The First Lady of the United States might have been discussing Melitta Bentz.  Her paper filters have made a world of difference for the people of the world.  After all, behind every successful woman is herself.

Handicapable

Handicapable

Easter 29

 

It has been tradition since the beginning of printed newspapers in the United States of America for political speeches to be published in the newspaper following their being given in a public forum.  Therefore, it was no surprise that the New York Times published a speech of Abraham Lincoln’s in 1862.  What might surprise some is that said publication of this speech contains an emoticon.

 

Of course, no one really known if the printing of “(applause and laughter ;)” was an actual punctuation found in the speech or simply a typo and the term “emoticon” would not be invented for another one hundred and twenty years but it is interesting to imagine with a bit of whimsy the tall, lanky president standing at a podium looking at a winking smiling face.

 

There were four such symbols published in 1881 in the magazine “Puck”.  They included symbols for joy, melancholy, indifference, and astonishment.  In 1936 in the magazine “National Lampoon” Alan Gregg offered some symbols that he thought should be used for a smile, laugh, frown, wink, and for “intense interest, attention, and incredulity”.  While the use of the current digital emoticons is traced to the 1980’s at both Carnegie Mellon University and in Japan, they were used in humorous writings of the nineteenth century.

 

Such symbols have also been used for those who have difficulty speaking.  A board with symbols could be pointed at and proved a way to allow communication with those who were verbally impaired.  The board was called Bliss.  As Jessica Montgomery explained in a blog she wrote, “Traditional Blissymbolic communication required a person to aid the user, so that the symbols the user pointed out could be interpreted and synthesized.  Since blissymbols were just placed on a board, they were quite useless unless there was another person who understood the Blissymbols system there to facilitate the process.”  Something was needed to allow the individual freedom to communicate one on one without needing someone to interpret.

 

Enter Rachel Zimmerman.  At the age of twelve, Rachel invented the Blissymbol Printer.  Her printer operates on a software program she developed that translates Blissymbols tapped on a board into written language on a computer screen, allowing the disabled to “talk” to others, record thoughts, write correspondence, even send emails.   More importantly, this program allows a person freedom to be independent and communicate.

 

Today Sarah Zimmerman is married at work for NASA.  She is also a Role Model, one a group of women in science, technology and mathematics called FabFems, short for Fabulous Females.  This is her bio on their website:  “Growing up in Canada, she participated in numerous science fairs at the school, regional, national, and international levels. As the inventor of the Blissymbol Printer, she was a member of the Women Inventors Project and the Women Inventors Networking Society. Rachel earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Brandeis University in Massachusetts and a Master of Space Studies from the International Space University in Strasbourg, France. Rachel enjoys mentoring young women who are interested in STEM careers.”

 

Women need to explore their potential and Rachel Zimmerman is proof that they have much to offer.  Check out the FabFems.  More importantly, explore your own potential.  The world needs our best.

 

The Strength of a Smile

The Strength of a Smile

Easter 28

 

“There are movements which impinge upon the nerves with a strength that is incapable, for movement has power to stir the sense and emotions, unique in itself.”  One of those movements is a smile.  It may seem odd that in this series about female inventors, celebrating the power, knowledge and strength of women, I elected to write about inventing a smile but to do such is perhaps, in my humble opinion, the best invention of all.

 

Earlier this week the author of the opening quote passed away.  Dorie Roberts stood a mere five feet, one inch tall and yet her smile and humor made her a giant in her industry.  “The minute you’re born, you’re getting older” was a favorite quip of hers.  She made every minute count, beginning her career sixty-five years ago, a career that continued right up to her death at age ninety years.  In fact, she still has some work in the can, as they say, awaiting release dates and had more scheduled to film.

 

Acclaimed as one of the great comic actresses on television as well as in movies, Doris Roberts did not quietly bide her time when not working.    Fourteen years ago she testified before a United States Congressional panel regarding age discrimination in the entertainment industry.  A passionate animal rights advocate, She worked with a group known as Puppies Behind Bars.  The non-profit trains inmates to train guide dogs and assistance animals for the physically disabled and elderly and also trains dogs in explosives detection for law enforcement agencies.  She also served as a chairwoman for the Children with AIDS Foundation.  Roberts also penned a memoir/cookbook entitled “Are You Hungry, Dear? Life, Laughs, and Lasagna”.

 

We all know that special person who has a brilliant smile that makes the day brighter.  I am blessed to know quite a few but one in particular stands out for me.  I know her in something of a professional sense since my voracious appetite for reading certainly might qualify me as a professional reader.  She is a librarian at my local library and when I visit there, I not only get great books, I walk out with a great attitude. 

 

This person I will simple call Elle (not her name but similar to her initials) has a smile for everyone entering her library.  Regardless of her day or mine for that matter, her smile is a ray of sunshine.  Regardless of the weather or what catastrophes might have befallen her, she lights up the front desk and instantly makes everything seem possible.  To be sure, working at a library is not fraught with danger like fighting a four-alarm fire but it does, like anything in life, come with its own set of challenges and they are as likely to overwhelm as anything.  Elle still smiles.

 

“When I go, if there’s a tombstone it will say,’ She doesn’t give in. She doesn’t give up. And she never takes no for an answer’.”  That quote from Doris Roberts is a great one for us all to adopt as a personal mantra.  It would be foolish, though, to pretend such is easy.  What makes it possible to have such a “can do” attitude is a smile.  Dale Carnegie once said “The expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back.”

 

We think of inventions as things that involve engineers, nuts and bolts, equipment and machinery and they often do just that.  We forget that sometimes a simple smile can reinvent a person’s day or even their life.  On a list of habits of successful and happy people, smiling is number two.  Doris Roberts once said: “With my talent, I can make people laugh and give them another attitude about life.  What a blessing that is for me.”  A smile is a blessing for us all.

 

I know when I go to my library and see Elle, I feel empowered.  Just something as uncomplicated as a smile can do that for someone.  Rap star 2Pac once wrote a song about this in his “Power of a Smile”:   “The power of a gun can kill, and the power of fire can burn; The power of wind can chill, and the power of mind can learn; The power of anger, can raise inside until it tears you apart; But the power of a smile, especially yours, can heal a frozen heart.”

 

I hope today you never underestimate the power of a smile and share one with someone.  A smile can relieve anxiety, soothe pain, and give hope.  When you share a smile, you share the joy of living and you share your faith in a better tomorrow.  Smiles are contagious.  Go catch one today and pass it on!

 

Life and Beliefs

Life and Beliefs

Easter 27

 

Friday evening was the beginning of Passover.  This Jewish holiday celebrates the emancipation of the Jewish people from slavery.  It is an eight-day festival which is celebrated in early spring and is called by those trying to be humorous, the “Jewish Easter”.  While it celebrates one emanicipation, there clearly are others and yes, some include the Jewish people.

 

Religious freedom is not just something discussed and guaranteed in the United States Constitution, although said document was one of the first to include it in a government’s laws and stated human rights.  It has been the goal of mankind since beliefs became diverse and openly discussed.  Clearly the first deliverance of the Jewish people from the bondage in Egypt was not a cure-all.  In the mid twentieth century Adolf Hitler sought to not only enslave them but to eradicate them, even though he himself was of Jewish descent.

 

This entire series is about celebrating women and so, today I would like to celebrate some women who have stood up for not only themselves and their gender but also their faith.  “We were redeemed from Egypt because of the righteousness of the women of that generation.”  This sentence is found in the Talmud, the Jewish holy book.   In honor of Passover, today’s females who have created and invented new respect and life for themselves are all Jewish.  More importantly, though, they are all good citizens and stewards of the earth, since today is also Earth Day. 

 

Sarah Aaronsohn was born at the end of the nineteenth century and spent her life trying to obtain freedom for Palestine from Turkish rule.  She was tortured for her efforts but remained strong and determined, faithful to her religion.  Lina Abarbanell was an opera singer of high acclaim.  She retired from singing but not from the stage and became a worldwide director of such wonderful operas as “Porgy and Bess”.

 

Born in Germany immediately after the end of World War Ii, Rosalie Silberman Abella took her experience as a refugee and used it as motivation to help others.  She became the first Jewish woman elected to the Supreme Court of Canada.  Ruth Abrams became the first woman to serve on the Massachusetts Supreme Court, championing both women and minorities through her legal career.  Ruth Ginsberg is a vigilant and powerful presence in the United States Supreme Court today.

 

Lithuanian Dina Abramowicz was a Holocaust survivor from World War Ii.  While many hold that librarians are quiet, dull people, usually female, Dina proved them wrong.  As the head librarian of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, she helped recreate the rich heritage of the Jewish culture and people after WWII.  Bella Abzug was a New Yorker who also proved the strength of the Jewish woman.  Throughout her three terms as a U.S. Congresswoman, she advocated for and helped pass ground-breaking legislation for equal rights and particularly the right of women to play intramural sports in schools.

 

More recently Jill Abramson was the first female executive editor of the New York Times and promoted women within the organization as well as featuring stories regarding gender equality and racial injustice.  Rachel Adler sought to achieve gender equality within her own faith and was a pioneer of the Jewish feminist movement.  Born fifty years earlier, Paula Ackerman had taken over leadership of her rabbi husband’s congregation upon his death, a move that was met with support from the members of their synagogue.

 

Amy Alcott is a fantastic golfer who was recognized in the World Golf Hall of Fame.  Sue Alexander is a founding member of the International Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  The list just goes on and on as these women have found purpose and strength from their faith.  After all, why do we believe of it is not to help us live better and leave the world a better place?