Philadelphia’s Jewish Suffragists: How They Can Inspire Social Justice Activists Today

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Philadelphia’s Jewish Suffragists: How They Can Inspire Social Justice Activists Today

April 6 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


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7:00 p.m. in person and livestream

Against a background of the largest influx of immigrants in U.S. history, anti-Semitism, rising concerns about reproductive and labor rights, and a worldwide flu pandemic, Jewish suffragists in Philadelphia joined in rallying people across America to expand voting rights. Who were these local Jewish suffragists, and how did they rise above these challenges in the early 20th century to achieve major social change? What lessons can we learn from their successful advocacy to inspire today’s social justice activists?

Join the Rodeph Shalom Suffrage Project as they present their findings with relevance for today’s battles. Melissa Klapper, author of Ballots, Babies, and Banners of Peace: American Jewish Women’s Activism, 1890–1940, will add reflections. For more, visit

The project has been using this historic moment to consider implications for social justice today and our understanding of how social change occurs. Why did it take so long for women to acquire the right to vote? Why did some women, even some notable Jewish women, not participate in the movement? Is legal change enough to effect social change? Are there areas of persisting disenfranchisement today?

Rochelle Rabeeya, a noted Jewish educator and RS congregant, hoped that this project would inspire us make informed choices about participation in today’s issues, build a sense of pride in learning about the achievements of the individuals involved in the movement, and explore Jewish values.

Congregants have investigated the role that Jews, particularly RS women, played in the suffrage movement. Some have visited the PA Historical Society (Ellen Poster and Linda Karp) and the Charles Library at Temple University (Tom and Carol Perloff). Their contributions have been documented in the RS Bulletin and on this website.

Patricia Moss-Vreeland chairs the Makers group that designs projects that individuals can “make” in the spirit of the early suffragists. Ellen Poster, Julia Williams, Paula Fuchsberg and Linda Karp, co-chair the Timeline group, a group dedicated to creating a timeline that shows the world, national, local and synagogue as they relate to the events leading up to the amendment passage. Join them or start your own project!



April 6
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Congregation Rodeph Shalom
615 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123 United States
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