Life and Beliefs
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?