Powerful Jewish Women Who Set the Precedent for Our Youth


Aviva Blumenthal, Staff Writer

As a little girl growing up in a society dominated by men in power, finding a figure of inspiration did not come easy. Additionally, when I did come across a powerful woman, they never fully mirrored an image of me. As a child, our hopes and dreams are built off idols and we yearn to see a projected image of ourselves within these people we don’t even know. As a girl who was raised Jewish, I was constantly surrounded by strong powerful women in my family, but never on tv or in books. When I was 10, my mom took me and my siblings to the National Portrait Gallery and showed us a grande painting of four women wearing robes, lumintating power and strength. My mom pointed to the one in the corner, a tiny woman and told us that she was Jewish like us. This was my first interaction with my idol, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

 Ruth Bader Ginsburg, born March 15, 1933 was the second woman to serve on the U.S supreme court. Her journey to achieve this role was treacherous and came with many doubts from those around her. She received her bachelor’s at Cornell University. She married Martin D. Ginsburg, a devoted husband and attended Harvard Law school with him. That year, she was one of nine women attending Harvard law that year. She spent the early stages of her career teaching at Rutgers law school and Columbia law, while advocating for gender equality and women’s rights. President Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court August 10, 1993 being the first Jewish female justice. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a source of inspiration to many, and her perseverance as a Jewish woman has sparked hope within the Jewish community.

In a private interview, Shira Neufeld, 16, was asked who she most admired and she said “Ruth Bader Ginsberg is my source of inspiration, she’s done a lot for women, and her Judaism empowers me. She is someone that I look up to and I admire her activism and her standing up for women and other misrepresented communities, she had a really big impact on our country and women in general and she was quite incredible.” Leora Blumenthal, 11 when asked the same question said,  “Ruth Bader Ginsberg because she is very influential and showed me that it is possible to change the world; she is my source of confidence.” Ruth Bader Ginsberg rejected all doubt based off her sex and relgion, proving to society that their constrcut of women is flawed and proving to little girls that they are capable. 

While Ginsberg is likely the most famous influential Jewish figure, other Jewish women paved roads in the fields of politics, medicine, and literature.Golda Meir is another powerful Jewish woman who broke barriers that were never before broken. Golda Meir became Israel’s first and only female prime minister. She was born as Golda Mabovitch in Kiev, Russia. She became Prime Minister of Israel on March 17th, 1969 and is known as the “Iron Lady” referred to as a strong minded woman. 

Bella Abzug fought to pass the equal rights amendment and other legislation for women’s rights. She fought as a leader in the women’s movement in 1971 and was called “Battling Bella,” a representation of her perseverance. Gertrude B. Elion, a biochemist from America discovered the first chemotherapy for childhood leukemia, and the first effective antiviral medication and treatments for lupus, hepatitis, arthritis gout. She went on to win a shared Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1988. Emmma Lazarus was one of the first successful Jewish authors. She wrote bold, powerful essays protesting the rise in Antisemitism and arguing for the rights of Russian immigrants. Justine Wise Polier was the first female justice in New York. She fought for the rights of the poor. According to Jewish Women’s Archive, “She strove to implement juvenile justice law as treatment, not punishment, making her court the center of a community network that encompassed psychiatric services, economic aid, teachers, placement agencies, and families.”

The power of these women are meant to not only be noticed, but taught and followed. These women are the building blocks for strength, resilience and passion for young girls everywhere. Having the ability to not only publicly identify as Jewish, but pursue careers that help others and shape the world is a blessing that was not always a possibility. Throughout history, the Jewish people have been looked down upon and isolated from society. As a young Jewish woman myself, these women are the blueprint for a greater future. Our world, our communities and our children are seeing history in the making. These women are not only our past and present, but also the leaders for the voices of the future.