Melissa Klapper Lectures on American Jewish Women Serving the JDC Abroad During the Interwar Years

While the “JDC man” became a well-known figure in the international Jewish communal world following World War I, it was not only men who served as JDC administrators, investigators, social workers, and other professionals. A cadre of American Jewish women also spent significant time traveling and living abroad while working for the JDC. Some of them filled roles then seen as uniquely suited to women, such as nursing, while others performed the same type of work as men but brought a gendered perspective to it that shaped their successes, failures, and acceptance by the Jewish communities abroad where they represented the JDC. This talk explored the role American Jewish women played abroad during the first decades of the JDC’s development into an international humanitarian organization.

This webinar was the second program in the JDC Archives series Jewish Women in Turbulent Times: Changes, Challenges & Opportunities, which raises awareness about Jewish women’s leadership and resilience in communities throughout the world during the twentieth century.

Dr. Melissa R. Klapper, a recipient of the 2021 Fred and Ellen Lewis / JDC Archives Fellowship, is Professor of History and Director of Women’s & Gender Studies at Rowan University. She is the author of Jewish Girls Coming of Age in America, 1860-1920 (NYU, 2005); Small Strangers: The Experiences of Immigrant Children in the United States, 1880-1925 (Ivan R. Dee, 2007); and Ballots, Babies, and Banners of Peace: American Jewish Women’s Activism, 1890-1940 (NYU, 2013), which won the National Jewish Book Award in Women’s Studies. Her most recent book is Ballet Class: An American History (Oxford, 2020).