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"Spiritual Mother" Ada Maimon, is born, 1893

On This Day in Jewish History: October 8, 1893

Born in Marculesti, Bessarabia (Romania), Ada Maimon was the daughter of Rabbi and scribe Avraham Elimelekh Fishman and Babeh Golda Fishman. In 1912, the family moved to the British Mandated Palestine, becoming pioneers of the Second Aliyah. One year later, she became an active member of the workers movement, Ha-Po’el ha-Za’ir. A majority of members at the time were writers and philosophers of the Labor movement.

At 21 years old, the Teachers Association invited Ada to a coeducational Hebrew school for children of the Old Yishuv in Safed. It was in school where Ada’s feminism became a large part of her identity. Along with two other female friends, she attended the memorial celebration for Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, violating the Orthodox Rabbis ban on women’s presence there. As other women joined them, the ban was eradicated.

As a member of the first women workers committees during World War I, Ada met with other like-minded women to strengthen their demand for representation on the workers committees in order for their employment issues to be dealt with. In 1918, Ada published a call “To Hebrew Women” from the nonpartisan Women's Organization of Jaffa, asking what the purpose of a women’s life is, and how to obtain freedom as a woman.

Around 2 years after “To Hebrew Women” was published, Ada was elected to the municipal council of the Jewish residents of Jaffa, serving as the only woman on the committee. When the first assembly of Jews in British Mandated Palestine occurred, there were 15 women out of 314 total delegates. Soon after, she became one of the founding members of the Mo’ezet ha-Po’alot at Givat ha-Moreh in 1921.

In the 1920s, Ada devoted her life to the fight for women’s equality, specifically their economic and civil equality. Much of her work was prompted by women in the Second and Third Aliyah who – when they succeeded in finding a job – accounting for roughly one third of their male counterparts. Ada was able to find professional training in agricultural industries for pioneer women, while establishing an education system for children that allowed mothers to work during the day.

Ada considered the question of women’s liberation in the workforce to be an international problem. Although Ada was removed from the administration of Mo’ezet ha-Po’alot, her work advocating for women’s rights did not stop and she continued to represent both Jewish and Arab women at international women’s conferences. Throughout her career, Ada advocated for the need to establish agricultural enterprises run solely by women. This led to the creation of a kosher kitchen and farm, where Eastern European Holocaust survivors, as well as Syrian and Lebanese families found refuge.

Ada changed her last name in 1949 from Fishman to Maimon, to reflect their Maimonides ancestors. As a member of the Knesset’s legislative committee, Ada helped pass the law setting the age of marriage to 17, and prohibiting bigamy. Ada passed away on October 10, 1973, a pioneer and champion of women’s rights in the Middle East and modern day Israel. May her memory be a blessing.



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