Today is International Woman’s Day. This year’s theme is #BeBoldForChange. The idea is to call on the masses or call on yourself to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world.
When you think of strong, inspirational Jewish women, who do you think of?
Some of the most influential women in Jewish history made our list including an actress, an author, a Prime Minister, and some important biblical figures:
Golda Meir, Israel’s fourth prime minister, was the first woman to be elected leader of Israel. Known as “the only man in the cabinet”, Meir was Minister of Labour and Foreign Minister for the Labour party before coming out of retirement in 1969 – at the age of 70 – to lead Israel as Prime Minister.
Anne Frank is the diarist and optimist, whose story, The Diary of Anne Frank, is one of the most widely read books in the world. Everyone has heard of Anne Frank, the brave young girl who spent two years hiding from the Nazis and writing her diary in a secret annex in the attic of a house in Amsterdam. She was transported to Bergen-Belsen and died just weeks before the camp was liberated.
Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook is famous for writing a book encouraging women to “lean in” and fight for what they want.
Natalie Portman, the Israeli-American Oscar-winning actress, is an animal rights activist and ambassador of the charity Free the Children. She is an outspoken supporter of Israel and a proud Jew, despite being entrenched in the Hollywood scene.
Hannah Senesh was a paratrooper trained to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. She was captured, tortured and killed by the Nazis when she refused to give details of her latest rescue mission and is regarded as a national heroine in Israel.
And let’s not forget the great Jewish women from the Tanach:
Ruth, who is described as being “a woman of noble character”, was the matriarch of the line that led to King David which will eventually lead to Mashiach.
Devorah is the only female judge mentioned in the Tanach. Devorah, being a prophetess, told Barak that the G-d of Israel commanded him to lead an attack against the forces of Yavin king of Canaan and his military commander Sisera.
Miriam was the revered sister of Moshe and Aharon who watched over Moshe when he was placed in the river as a baby, but she was also the acknowledged leader of all the women who fled from Egypt with their families.
Rachel was so deeply loved by her husband Yaakov Avinu that he worked an extra seven years for her father, Lavan, in order to marry her after he was initially deceived into marrying her sister. She was also mother to Yosef and Binyamin.
Leah is the first wife of Yaakov Avinu and the mother to six of the twelve tribes of Israel. Hashem saw her plight in that Yaakov loved Rachel more than her and consoled her by giving her seven children.
Sarah, the wife of Avraham Avinu, was the mother of all future generations of Jews. She struggled to conceive and Hashem answered her prayers when she was already an old woman, leading her to give birth to Yitzchak Avinu. She
This list will hopefully inspire women to make the changes they want to see in the world and help women realize that they should be celebrated for their achievements.
If there are any other notable Jewish women that aren’t mentioned here, be sure to let us know in the comments.