Women’s Changing Roles

The 1960s were a time of societal change and political unrest. Reflecting the changing roles of women in American society, the Women’s Division adopted new strategies for engagement and awareness of community needs.

“Come See” bus tours, a precursor to Associated mini-missions, enabled women to see firsthand how funds were allocated. In 1967, Women’s Division president, Jane K. Shapiro earned a spot on the “big board” of the Associated, validating women’s roles in the community.

Barely a month after Shapiro took office, the Six Day War began and the newly appointed leader organized a two-week emergency telephone campaign, raising more than $300,000. “The emotional response was so great that giving more than matched the intensity of the two-week campaign,” recalled Shapiro. “It was a frightening, exciting and stimulating time to be so involved.”

Women’s roles in the workforce were also changing, and the Associated Jewish Charities became a resource where women could connect, network and learn professional skills. The Young Matrons committee gave way to the Business and Professional Council, which in turn transitioned into the Young Women’s Leadership Council. Finally, in 2000, the group became Dor Tikvah: Women of Hope, Leaders for the Future—a two-year leadership development program for women who aspire to key positions within the Baltimore Jewish community.

The early ‘90s saw the first woman, Shoshana S. Cardin, become board chair of The Associated, and in 1993, the Women’s Division got a new name—the Women’s Department.

Women’s groups continued to address social and community issues, including developing service projects for the influx of Soviet Jews to Baltimore, programs for new parents, and establishing CHANA, the only Baltimore Jewish organization addressing domestic violence.

In 2009, the Women’s Department was once again renamed to Associated Women, recognizing that the new name represented a broader, open place for all women.

With a new name came other initiatives, such as the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation, in which members pool their resources to make grants in the Jewish and secular communities, both locally and overseas; Chapter Two, for empty-nest women looking to grow as Jewish women; and the Inspired Women’s Project, in which women meet monthly to discuss topics such as personal growth, spirituality, Israel engagement, Jewish traditions, community involvement and women’s philanthropy; and Chapter Three, for women 60 plus to engage in meaningful discussions around diverse topics.

Although the roles of women at The Associated have expanded over the past 75 years, their original mission of helping Jews in their communities and around the world has remained a constant.

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