In honor of Women’s History Month, I’ve chosen to write about important, inspirational, leading Jewish women. It is a somewhat difficult task when you consider how many there are who fit that role as we think about those whom we should hold in high esteem.
We can begin with our four matriarchs, Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah, and then there are the prophets, Devorah, Yael and other strong biblical women, Zipporah, Miriam (Moses’ wife and his sister), Esther, Naomi and Ruth from the Book of Ruth and King David’s grandmother, and Bat Sheva, King David’s wife. There are also Hannah from the Chanukah story and Dona Gracia from the 16th century who used her wisdom and wealth to work for human dignity and cultural creativity.
Moving swiftly through history, we know of the bravery of Hannah Senesh, the paratrooper who fought and died valiantly for Israel, Sarah Aaronson, who also fought and died heroically for the Israeli underground NILI, Anne Frank and countless Jewish women who saved their children during the Holocaust, activists and leaders like Henrietta Szold (founder of Hadassah), Emma Lazarus, the poet, Leah Goldberg, a Zionist poet, and Golda, RBG, Estee Lauder, Ada Yonat (Nobel prize winner in chemistry), Deborah Lipstadt fighting against Holocaust deniers, Sheryl Sandberg and of course, Gal Gadot. All of these women “leaned in” to make a significant difference or change in the lives of those around them whether close at home or in the broadest global sense.
Considering that there is an entire encyclopedia devoted to Jewish women with at least hundreds of women just under the letter heading of A… there are so many talented, brilliant women that deserve to be recognized. In the world in which we live, many of these remarkable women tend to be overlooked, which is why it is so important for us to highlight their achievements and the paths they trail-blazed for us.
I am inspired and motivated by the many women who came before me. Their compassion, their bravery, their conviction, their curiosity and creativity, their commitment to Jewish life and their willingness to take risks to improve the human condition – are all qualities that are most important to me. And, each one had a direct impact at different times in my life, as do each of you. Our Women’s Philanthropy helps engage women and connect their families to our community. It is their dedication and passion, giving of time and financial resources that have a tremendous impact for all of us in the Lehigh Valley.
The future of our community and the legacy we leave our children and grandchildren depends on each of us – women and men. What trails will we blaze, and how will we make our mark?