This introductory chapter provides a brief history of Jewish women throughout the United States, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who developed a distinctive activist identity that drew on both their gender and their religious or ethnic identities. For Jewish women, the moment of reform at the turn of the twentieth century offered possibilities for acculturating into American society. Indeed, a significant number of Jewish women focused their energies on the great women's social movements of the first part of the twentieth century: suffrage, birth control, and peace. These movements offered Jewish women opportunities to participate in gendered activism without abandoning Jewish meaning.
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