In Their Own Words: American Jews and Social Justice

Led by Dr. Reena Sigman Friedman
January 5, 12, 19, 26, 7:30–8:45 PM ET
$144 for four sessions

Jews have been disproportionately represented in American movements for social justice. This course explores the contributions made by selected Jewish activists to various social justice movements in the U.S. from the mid-nineteenth through the late-twentieth centuries. We will examine movements for health care, food justice, economic justice, gender rights, racial justice, immigration and the labor movement. Using excerpts from speeches, memoirs and other writings as our primary texts, we will discuss the activists’ motivations, challenges and accomplishments. Figures studied will include Al Vorspan, Rabbi Abraham Joshual Heschel, Saul Alinsky, Lillian Wald, Rose Schneiderman, Rabbi Stephen Wise, Maud Nathan, Bella Abzug, Rabbi Joachim Prinz and more. These individuals’ stories, as told in their own words, can be instructive and inspirational for today’s Jewish activists. 


All sessions will be recorded and available to participants. You may join the session live or watch recordings at your own convenience.

To view our full list of online learning opportunities visit:

Reena Sigman Friedman, Ph.D., teaches Modern Jewish History at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and Modern and American Jewish History at Gratz College. She has also taught at Haverford College and Queens College.  Dr. Friedman lectures widely for Jewish adult-education programs. A graduate of Cornell University, she holds a Master of Arts, Master of Philosophy and doctoral degrees from Columbia University. She is a contributing editor at Lilith magazine and is the author of These Are Our Children: Jewish Orphanages in the United States, 1880–1925 (Brandeis University Press, 1994), as well as many other book chapters and academic articles.