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Women & Religion

Anat Hoffman (1954- )

  • Anat Hoffman is a significant voice for Jewish women’s rights.  
  • As the Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center, she fought for women’s rights to pray at the Western Wall, which is the last standing wall of the Jewish Temple.
  • Anat Hoffman continued to protest for the rights of women to participate in the prayers and worship ceremonies at the Wall, even after the court hearings.
  • Because of Mrs. Hoffman, there is an equal opportunity for women to come and worship at a sacred place just as the men do.


Brinkley, Joel. "The Arab Uprising After Two Years: Voices From Both Sides." New York

Times. New York Times, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.

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Gloster, Rob. "Activist Detained at Western Wall - Along with Torah from Sacramento."

The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California : J: 6. Jun 10 2016. ProQuest. Web. 11 Nov. 2016 .


Lahav, Pnina. “Up Against the Wall: Women's Legal Struggle to Pray at the Western

Wall in Jerusalem.” Israel Studies Bulletin, vol. 16, no. 1, 2000, pp. 19–22.



Wolfson, Asa. “Board and Staff.” Women of the Wall,

Betty Friedman (1921-2006)

  • Known as a feminist activist and became president of the National Organization of Women
    • Defended the Civil Right Act by arguing that women can’t be denied jobs because they have children
  • Also contributed to the National Abortion Rights Action League to legalize abortion
  • Broke the idea of the stereotype “stay-at-home” mother who cooks and cleans


"Betty (Naomi Goldstein) Friedan." Almanac of Famous People, Gale, 2011. Biography in Context, Accessed 12 Mar. 2017.


"Friedan, Betty 1921-." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, Victor Bondi, Richard Layman, Tandy McConnell, and Vincent Tompkins. Vol. 7: 1960-1969. Detroit: Gale, 2001. N. pag. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.


Palumbo, Fred. “Betty Friedan.” Commons wikimedia, 11 Oct. 2006,

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum (1959- )

  • Sharon Kleinbaum received an Orthodox education, but was raised with Conservative forms of Judaism conflicted with Sharon Kleinbaum’s identity as a proud lesbian woman.
  • In 1992, despite words of caution given by fellow rabbis, Sharon Kleinbaum became the first rabbi of the largest LGBT+ synagogue in the world.
  • Sharon Kleinbaum had been a prominent proponent of the legalization of gay marriage before the Supreme Court ruled in favor of it.
  • Rabbi Kleinbaum continues her work to this day as the senior rabbi at the Congregation Beth Simchat Torah.


Bolonik, Kera. "The chosen rabbi: out rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum has led New York's largest LGBT synagogue through AIDS and 9/11--and now she's planning World Pride in Jerusalem. Her new book shares her loving message." The Advocate, 17 Jan. 2006, p. 71. Academic OneFile, Accessed 11 Nov


Grossman, Lawrence. “Jewish Communal Affairs.” The American Jewish Year Book, vol. 105, 2005, pp. 187–209. 2016.


“Newsletter of NYC AIDS Memorial.” Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, 12 Sept. 2016,


“Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, D.D., Senior Rabbi.” Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, 19 Dec. 2016,


“Sharon Kleinbaum.”, Accessed 10 Mar. 2017.

Ruth Messinger (1940- )

  • She had a career as a city council member in New York for 20 years and received her B.A. from Radcliffe College as well as her M.S.W. from the University of Oklahoma (AJWS).
  • She became President of American Jewish World Service (AJWS) and is now the inaugural Global Ambassador from 1998-2016 where She helps promote human rights and end poverty by launching campaigns that put a stop to violence against women, genocide, and land grabs.
  • She now is currently on the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group.
  • Notably, she has been awarded and honored with five degrees from rabbinical seminaries, the InterAction Julia Vadala Taft Outstanding Leadership Award, and was named the 6th most influential Jew in the World by The Jerusalem Post, The Jewish Daily Forward, and the Huffington Post (AJWS).
  • She also holds lectures and leadership roles in many faiths based communities to promote change.


Brettschneider, Marla. "Ruth W. Messinger." Encyclopaedia Judaica, edited by Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik, 2nd ed., Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. Biography in Context, Accessed 11 Mar. 2017.


“Ruth Messinger 2012.Jpg.” Jewish Women's Archive, 13 Aug. 2013,


"Ruth Messinger - American Jewish World Service - AJWS." American Jewish World Service

AJWS. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.


"Ruth Messinger Accepts the 2015 Julia Taft Award." InterAction. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.

Violet Firth: Dion Fortune (1890-1946)

  • Violet Firth began her studies in psychology at the University of London before World War I, ultimately rejecting Freudian theory and that of Carl Jung because she felt there was more to the human mind than those men contended.
  • Firth became a psychoanalyst and therapist and involved herself with metaphysical and theosophical thought, intertwined with discussion of the lost civilization of Atlantis, Gnostic Christianity, reincarnation, and psychic disturbances.
  • Firth was introduced by a childhood friend to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and adopted as her magical title “Deo Non Fortuna” (“by God, not luck”), the Latin motto from the Firth family crest, eventually the famous moniker Dion Fortune.
  • In the 1930s, Firth published her most significant work, The Mystical Qabalah, a vision for an esoteric belief system based on ancient Jewish mystical interpretation of the Bible.
  • By her death in 1946, Firth’s readership was as great as the span of her work and patchwork of beliefs, and her Inner Light Community exists into our twenty-first century.


"Dion Fortune." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 22, Gale, 2004, pp. 180-182. Gale Virtual Reference Library.


“Dion Fortune.” Servants of the Light, Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.


"Dion Fortune." St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers, Gale, 1998. Biography in Context.


"Violet Mary Firth." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, Gale, 2001. Biography in Context.


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