Jewish Women in Sports Calendar

Photo cover of Jewish Women in Sports Calendar
Jewish + Female = Athlete: Portraits of Strength from Around the World

During the summer of 2005, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute unveiled "Jewish + Female = Athlete," the latest in its annual Jewish women around the world projects. Including a printed calendar, traveling exhibit and online resources, the project explores the strength of Jewish women athletes, both contemporary competitors and women whose achievements constituted milestones in sports history.

Our mission in this project is broad and ambitious: to raise awareness of the prominence of Jewish women in sports, to give Jewish women athletes the accord they are due, to dispel stereotypes about Jewish women and to inspire a new generation of Jewish women athletes.

About HBI

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute develops fresh ways of thinking about Jews and gender by producing and promoting scholarly research and artistic projects. Founded in 1997, the HBI is the first university-based research center to focus exclusively on Jewish women and Jewish gender issues. The institute provides research resources and community programs for scholars, students and the public at large.

HBI is a division of Brandeis University, an esteemed research university founded in 1948, and the only secular, Jewish-sponsored university in the United States. This year, Brandeis was ranked 31st among approximately 4,200 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. Brandeis University is not affiliated with any religious organization and its student body is about 53 percent Jewish. Its faculties in Jewish studies and women's studies, along with other fields, are among the best in the world. The HBI was founded with startup funds and an endowment from Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America Inc., with the goal of disseminating instructive information about Jewish women throughout the world and across historical periods.

The Project: Jewish Women around the World

In 1999, HBI began producing a 12-month, Hebrew/English calendar featuring Jewish women around the world. Our overarching goal is to bring a fresh look at Jewish women’s experiences, achievements and work into the daily lives of calendar users. To date, calendar themes have focused on scientists, leaders, rabbis, writers and images of Jewish women around the world.

Response to “Jewish Women around the World” has been phenomenal: calendar users have requested we send multiple copies to their sisterhoods, boards of directors, friends, students and book groups. One woman purchased a case of calendars in order to distribute copies to the 150 guests at her daughter’s bat mitzvah.

In addition to the beautiful, professionally designed print piece, the project now entails a traveling exhibit. The traveling exhibit is available at a nominal cost to synagogues, JCC’s, libraries, schools and other organizations.

2005-06 Focus: Jewish Women Athletes

Our 2005-06 (5766) project features the stories of 27 Jewish women athletes, 13 contemporary competitors and 13 women who made sports history. In keeping with the goals of the project, the calendar and exhibit will

  • Explore Jewish women’s experiences that challenge the “usual categories” – when people think of athletes, they seldom think of Jews; when they think of Jewish women, they rarely think of sports. Our project breaks down stereotypes and invites participants to go beyond their initial assumptions about the gender of Jewish achievers and the arenas in which Jewish women make their mark.
  • Raise awareness of Jewish women athletes who, despite significant and ongoing accomplishment, remain largely unknown.
  • Explore the role physical culture has played in Jewish life.
  • Highlight the prominent role of Jewish women in efforts to expand opportunities for women and girls in sport.
  • Contribute to efforts encouraging the participation of girls and women in sports and physical activity, thereby promoting health and positive self-esteem. Why Jewish women and sports? For women, sports can serve as a source of empowerment. In her introduction to "Nike is a Goddess: The History of Women in Sports," Mariah Burton Nelson writes, “Sports have freed women and continue to free women…from the belief that women can’t or shouldn’t achieve or compete or win.”

While scant attention has been given to the topics of women in sport and Jews in sport, little to no attention has been given to the role Jewish women have played in sports worldwide, the importance of physical activity in the development of the health and self-esteem of Jewish girls, and the impact Jewish girls and women have had in the development of physical culture in the International Jewish community.

It is this void that the “Jewish + Female = Athlete” aims to fill.

Q&A with the Athletes

-> Emily Jacobson

-> Sada Jacobson

-> Daniela Krukower

-> Keren Leibovitch

-> Hagit Oz

-> Jillian Schwartz

Contemporary Athletes

Name Country Sport
Zhanna Pintusevich-Block Ukraine Track and Field (100m & 200m)
Myriam Fox-Jerusalmi France Kayaking (Slalom)
Emily Jacobson USA Individual Saber
Sada Jacobson USA Individual Saber
Deena Kastor USA Track and Field (10,000m and Marathon)
Keren Leibovitch Israel Swimming
Sara DeCosta-Hayes USA Ice Hockey
Daniela Yael Krukower Argentina Judo
Anna Smashnova Israel Tennis
Nicole Freedman USA Cycling
Tal Karp Australia Soccer
Hagit Oz Israel Kitesurfing
Limor Mizrachi Israel Basketball
Jillian Schwartz USA Track and Field (Pole Vault)

Sports Legends

Name Country Sport
Irena Kirzenstin-Szewinska Poland Track and Field (400m, etc.)
Eva Szekely Hungary Swimming
Ildiko Ujlaki-Rejto Hungary Fencing
Fanny “Bobbie” Rosenfeld Canada Track and Field (400m relay and 100m)
Judith Deutsch Austria Swimming
Carina Benninga Holland Field Hockey
Yael Arad Israel Judo
Angela Buxton Great Britain Tennis
Lillian Copeland USA Track and Field (shot put, discus, javelin)
Thelma “Tiby” Eisen USA Baseball
Charlotte “Eppy” Epstein USA Swimming
Senda Berenson USA Basketball
Agnes Keleti Hungary Gymnastics