Politics and Government: Military

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Sarah Aaronsohn

Sarah Aaronsohn

The semi-military role Sarah carved for herself in the underground, her activity and her voluntary death made her an icon and a model of a new “Hebrew” femininity, a model especially cultivated within the so-called civic sector of the Jewish Yishuv in Palestine (defined as distinct from the socialist labor sector, dominant throughout the period before the late 1970s).

Orit Adato

Adato enlisted in the IDF in 1973 and in due course served successively as commander of the two central Women’s Corps training bases (1994–1997), commander of the Women Teacher-Soldiers unit, and commander of the women in Nahal, where she directed the assistance given to immigrants from Ethiopia and the USSR. In 1997, she was promoted to the position of head of the Women’s Corps as a brigadier general at a time when the corps was in the process of being radically reorganized.

Ruth Aliav-Klüger

She was the only woman among the early members of the Mosad, which smuggled Jews out of Europe and into Palestine in an attempt to circumvent the aliyah restrictions of the British Mandatory authorities. Late in World War II Aliav-Klüger was among the first representatives of the Yishuv to meet with Holocaust survivors on European soil and come to the aid of the she’erit ha-pletah (surviving remnant). In early 1949 Aliav-Klüger returned to Israel and, like many of her Mosad comrades, joined the Zim national shipping company. In 1974 she was selected as Woman of the Year by the National Council Of Jewish Women in the United States in honor of the release of her book, The Last Escape, describing her activities with the Mosad le-Aliyah Bet between 1938 and 1941 (published originally in English and translated into Hebrew).

Hedva Almog, August 5, 2011

Hedva Almog

During her term of office, Almog stressed the importance of appropriate training for new recruits and established the base at Julis for absorbing them. The number of annual officer courses was increased, a training course for women officers in the Operational Branch was established, new occupations, such as airborne doctors, were opened for women officers and institutional posts increased.

Israela Oron and Esther Herlitz at "Dor l'Dor Yabia Omer" in Sarafand, June 19, 1996

ATS and WAAF in World War II

The Yishuv regarded the war against Nazi Germany (World War II) as its war. At the behest of the Jewish Agency thirty thousand men volunteered for the British Army between 1939 and 1946. Only when the Council of Women’s Organizations called for the recruitment of women as well, was an agreement reached with the British authorities to enlist women into the forces. The first to join, on January 25, 1942, were a small group of sixty women to be trained as officers and N.C.O.s for the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service). Women for the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) were drafted only on May 25, 1943.

Dorit Beinisch

Dorit Beinisch

Israel Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinisch has based many of her decisions, including those regarding parental corporal punishment, sexual harassment, and military reform, on her commitment to upholding Israel's basic laws on human dignity and liberty.

Ruth Ben Israel, 2014

Ruth Ben Israel

Ruth Ben Israel, an expert in labor law, social equality, social security and the status of women, received the Israel Prize for legal research in 2001, becoming the third member of her family to win this distinguished award, alongside her brother, Professor Yuval Ne’eman (b. 1925, Israel Prize 1969) and her cousin, Professor Hayyim Harari (b. 1940, Israel Prize 1989).

Netiva Ben-Yehuda

Netiva Ben Yehuda

Netiva Ben Yehuda is unique among the writers of her generation not only by virtue of her late entry onto the Israeli writing scene (1981), but also because of her lifelong devotion to the cause of spoken Hebrew.

Yehudit Ben-Natan

Yehudit Ben-Natan was born in Romania in 1950 and came to Israel ten years later. During her military service she served first as the officer of the welfare division of the Israel Air Force Northern Command (1976–1979), then as the Women’s Corps officer of field units (1985–1988). She went on to be the commander of Training Base 12 (1989–1991) and was then appointed OC Women’s Corps.

Mina Ben-Zvi

Born in Russia in 1909, Mina Rogozik arrived in Palestine together with her family in 1921. She studied at the Reali High School in Haifa and at New York University and joined the Haganah in 1933. In 1942, she was among the first sixty-six women to enlist in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) and served in Egypt as the commander (with the rank of captain) of a company comprising both Palestinian and British women.

Rahel Yanait Ben-Zvi, 1962

Rahel Yanait Ben-Zvi

In the preface to her book entitled Derakhai Siparti (I Declared My Way, derived from Psalms 119:26: “I have declared my way and you have answered me”), Rahel Yanait Ben-Zvi recalls her life’s work in the spheres of agriculture, the Labor Movement, the Haganah and the Jewish community in Palestine prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. "Old Yishuv" refers to the Jewish community prior to 1882; "New Yishuv" to that following 1882.Yishuv.

Yehudith Birk

Yehudith Birk

A 1998 Israel Prize laureate for agricultural research, Professor Yehudith Birk of the Hebrew University Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot is an internationally renowned biochemist.

CHEN: Women's Corps of the Israel Defense Forces

In 1948, following discussions as to whether women should be integrated into men’s units or whether separate battalions of women should be formed, which would serve in the brigade while remaining independent of it, the second option was chosen. Thus the Women’s Corps (“CHEN”—Hel Nashim) was founded on May 16, 1948.

Civil War in the United States

Like their gentile neighbors, North and South, Jewish women figured in the history of the Civil War (1861–1865) in two ways. As the wives, mothers, and daughters of men in military service, they shouldered a range of responsibilities brought on by wartime exigencies. As community activists, they involved themselves in home-front activities to minister to the soldiers directly and to raise money for the troops.

Natalie Cohen

Natalie Cohen

Because Natalie Cohen’s life met the very essence of the definition of the “Georgia Women Sports Trailblazers,” she was elected a charter member in 1996. Already a Hall of Famer, this crowning honor was only one of many received throughout her life recognizing Natalie Cohen as a woman who has made significant contributions to sports, forging paths for others to follow.

Deborah 2: Midrash and Aggadah

Deborah is presented in the Rabbinic sources as a very talented woman. She was an upright judge, with the same prophetic ability as Samuel; Torah she-bi-khetav: Lit. "the written Torah." The Bible; the Pentateuch; Tanakh (the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographia)Torah scholars would come to learn from her. This ability was granted her as reward for her good deeds, namely, the preparation of wicks for the Tabernacle. She also encouraged her fellow Israelites to regularly attend the synagogue and Tabernacle, and thanks to her beneficial influence on her husband, he merited a portion in the World to Come. There is a tradition that presents Deborah as being guilty of the sin of pride, which led to her loss of the gift of prophecy, while the other traditions speak in her praise, and number her among the twenty-three Israelite women of outstanding righteousness (A type of non-halakhic literary activitiy of the Rabbis for interpreting non-legal material according to special principles of interpretation (hermeneutical rules).Midrash Tadshe, Ozar ha-Midrashim [ed. Eisenstein], 474).

Deborah: Bible

Deborah is one of the major judges (meaning charismatic leaders, rather than juridical figures) in the story of how Israel takes the land of Canaan.

Amira Dotan

The first OC Women’s Corps to be accorded the rank of brigadier general, Amira Dotan (née Mosseri), was born in Tel Aviv on July 28, 1947. Her father, Moshe Mosseri, who was born in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1920, was among the settlers of the Neve Zedek quarter in Tel Aviv. A member of the Haganah, he served as a supernumerary police officer and was a founding member of the Ha-Ma’avir bus cooperative. Her mother, Malka (née Raus, b. Tel Aviv, 1927), studied at the Talpiot Teachers Seminary and became a kindergarten teacher. Amira was the oldest of three children, the others being her sister Nurit (b. 1951) and her brother Rahamim (Rami, b. 1955).

Trude Dothan at Work

Trude Dothan

Distinguished archaeologist Trude Dothan was born in Vienna in 1923. Her father, Leopold Krakauer (b. Vienna 1890, d. Jerusalem 1954), was an artist and architect, responsible for some of the finest Bauhaus-style buildings in Jerusalem’s Rehavia garden suburb and elsewhere. Her mother Grete (née Wolf, b. Vienna 1890, d. Jerusalem 1970) was an abstract painter. In 1924 they immigrated to Palestine, where their house in Jerusalem became a meeting place for local intellectuals and artists such as Else Lasker-Schüler and visitors from abroad, such as Stefan Zweig and Alma Mahler.

Israel Women's Network, July 1984

Tamar Eshel

Descended on her mother’s side from a family of Bilu settlers who had come to Palestine in 1882, Tamar Eshel was born in London on July 24, 1920. Her lawyer father, Ze’ev Shoham (b. 1886 in Kurosvany, Russia–d. 1971), had studied at the university in St. Petersburg, where he first met his future wife, Zilla Feinberg (b. 1894 in Jaffa Palestine, d. 1988), before World War I. After the issuing of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 Ze’ev Shoham went via Sweden to London, where he was a member of the World Zionist Executive. Zilla joined him there on completing her studies in agriculture at the University of Berlin and the couple married in 1919, returning to Palestine in 1921. Zilla became a citrus grower in her father’s groves, eventually serving as a leading member of the Association of Citrus Growers in Palestine. A son, David, who was born in 1923, died in 2005. Although Tamar was born in the United Kingdom, Israel’s Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett later had her registered as a native of Israel, since her parents had been abroad as emissaries of the “state-in-the-making.”

An Ethiopian Women Preparing for Shabbat

Ethiopian Jewish Women

The Ethiopian Jews, men and women alike, were known as Falashas in Ethiopia, although in the last decade they have eschewed this appellation with its stigmatic connotation of “stranger”, implying low, outsider status. In Israel, they tend to be called Ethiopian Jews, whilst in Ethiopia they often referred to themselves—and are referred to in the academic literature—as Beta Israel (Weil, 1997a). The Beta Israel hail from villages in Gondar province, Woggera, the Simien mountains, Walkait and the Shire region of Tigray. They are divided into two distinct linguistic entities speaking Amharic and Tigrinya respectively.

Mary Jacqueline Fabian

After debuting in 1923 as Musetta in Puccini’s La Bohème at the Century Theater in New York, Mary Jacqueline Fabian added to her soprano repertoire the well-known yet demanding roles of Madame Butterfly, Mimi, Manon, Micaëla, Marguerite, Violetta, and Gretel. Touring the United States as a star performer with the Columbia Opera Company during its 1929–1930 season, she appeared at other times with the famed Chicago Civic Light Opera. She also performed throughout Europe with several companies, enjoying particular success in France and Italy. At different points during her stage career, Fabian sang with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and at the Hollywood Bowl, and was featured in numerous radio productions. A slight figure at five feet, with auburn hair and blue eyes, she was the first star of the grand opera to appear in talking movies and was awarded a gold medal by the Hollywood Breakfast Club.

Ariel Sharon and Michal Modai, December 10, 2001

Feminism in Contemporary Israel

The first wave of feminism in Israel washed over the country as early as the pre-statehood Jewish community in Palestine prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. "Old Yishuv" refers to the Jewish community prior to 1882; "New Yishuv" to that following 1882.Yishuv period.

Shoshana Gershonowitz

One of the first sixty-six women to enlist in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service), she was among the first four to be commissioned as officers. In 1947 she established the Women’s Division and was then transferred to Tel Aviv, where she and Shurika Braverman of A voluntary collective community, mainly agricultural, in which there is no private wealth and which is responsible for all the needs of its members and their families.Kibbutz Shamir were charged with conscripting the first national Women’s Corps.

Rivka Guber

Rivka Guber

Rivka Guber (née Bumaghina) was born in Novo-Vitebsk in the Ukraine and went to high school in Yekaterinoslav (Dnipropetrovsk) intending to continue her studies at university. The outbreak of the revolution disrupted her plans and forced her to return to Novo-Vitebsk where she worked as a teacher. In 1920 she married Mordecai Guber, who was born in 1893 in the town of Gorodik near Bialystok. They immigrated to Palestine in 1925. The couple settled in Rehovot, where Mordecai taught Hebrew. They were among the founders of Kefar Bilu (1933), later leaving to join Kefar Warburg, where they raised their two gifted sons, Ephraim (b. 1927) and Zvi (b. 1931).

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