Marcia Freedman, First American Woman in Knesset, Dies at 83

Marcia Freedman, who was the primary American-born lady to serve within the Israeli Parliament, often known as the Knesset, and who helped lead the feminist motion in Israel within the Seventies, died on Sept. 21 at her dwelling in South Berkeley, Calif. She was 83.

She had been recognized with renal and coronary heart illness, her daughter, Jennifer Freedman, stated in confirming the demise.

Ms. Freedman, who was born in New Jersey, had been pursuing her doctorate in philosophy at Stanford when, in 1967, she acquired a suggestion to spend a yr in Israel instructing at Haifa College. She turned a part of Israel’s nascent feminist motion and ended up staying 14 years, though she returned typically after that for prolonged intervals.

As an energetic feminist, Ms. Freedman caught the eye of Shulamit Aloni, a left-wing champion of civil liberties, and her Ratz occasion, often known as the Civil Rights Motion. Ms. Aloni requested Ms. Freedman to affix her occasion’s slate, and in 1973 the occasion received three seats, one in every of which went to Ms. Freedman.

She served by way of 1977. Along with being the primary American-born lady within the Knesset, she was the primary and solely open lesbian ever to have served there, in accordance with The Instances of Israel.

Ms. Freedman made her title by elevating points that had been rising amongst feminists in the US however that had been not often mentioned publicly in Israel, amongst them home violence, breast most cancers, rape, incest and teenage prostitution.

As a radical homosexual feminist in a traditionally patriarchal nation, she was beneath fixed criticism and was typically dismissed by her colleagues. Some urged that there was no such factor as home violence, though loads of girls confirmed up on the shelter for battered girls that she helped open in Haifa in 1977 — the primary in Israel.

After she launched laws to overtake Israel’s restrictive abortion legislation, a gynecologist threw a pitcher of water at her, together with the pitcher itself, throughout a medical doctors’ conference in Tel Aviv. In main a protest in opposition to the medical doctors, she stated they opposed the liberalization of abortion legal guidelines and on the similar time profited from performing unlawful abortions.

The assaults in opposition to her escalated as she turned an outspoken proponent of Palestinian autonomy. She was an early champion of the two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian battle.

“She was this little lady” — not more than 4 toes, 8 inches tall — “and she or he would rise up within the Knesset and say these items, and so they simply ripped her aside,” Terry Greenblatt, a longtime good friend from Israel, stated in a cellphone interview. “They referred to as her loopy and a pervert, and so they stated she was a traitor in opposition to the Jewish individuals.”

However, Ms. Greenblatt stated, “there at the moment are two generations of Israelis who look as much as her, who take into account her a pioneer and understand how brave she was in her time.”

Marcia Judith Prince was born on Might 17, 1938, in Newark and grew up in West Orange, N.J. Her mom, Anne (Silver) Prince, was a homemaker. Her father, Phillip, was a union organizer.

Describing her leftist upbringing for her fiftieth class reunion at Bennington Faculty in Vermont, Ms. Freedman referred to as herself “a pink diaper child of the decrease center class in Newark.” She added: “My father was a fellow-traveling labor chief throughout the Nineteen Thirties and ’40s, a self-taught immigrant. From him I discovered not solely values and political acumen, but in addition the worth of questioning acquired knowledge.”

She accompanied her father on a few of his union organizing assignments.

“She discovered as a baby that the work for social justice is one leaflet at a time, one assembly at a time, and that it’s on that micro stage the place issues occur,” Nan Gefen, one other longtime good friend, stated in a cellphone interview. “She discovered from her father that that is who you’re and what you do on this world.”

Ms. Freedman had began faculty at Rutgers College earlier than transferring to Bennington, the place she majored in English and graduated in 1960. She later earned a grasp’s diploma in philosophy from Brooklyn Faculty.

She and Invoice Freedman, whom she knew in highschool, had been married in 1961. Along with their daughter, Ms. Freedman is survived by a granddaughter and a brother, Carl Prince.

Her memoir, “Exile within the Promised Land” (1990), recounts her experiences in Israel, each the political and the non-public, together with the tip of her marriage to Mr. Freedman in 1975.

Beginning within the early Nineteen Eighties, Ms. Freedman divided her time between Israel and the San Francisco Bay Space.

In the US, she was the founding president of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, also called the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, established in 2002. It organized American Jews on behalf of a two-state negotiated Israeli-Palestinian peace and in 2010 merged with the advocacy group J Street, which has carried on that mission.

As she had in Israel, Ms. Freedman devoted a lot of her time within the Bay Space to organizing teams to combat for peace, homosexual rights and girls’s rights. In her later years she sought to enhance the lives of ladies as they aged. She was an early member of Ashby Village, a nonprofit group that helps assist older individuals who wish to keep in their very own houses and neighborhoods — a purpose with which she might sympathize.

As she wrote at age 72 in her notes for her Bennington reunion, “I’ve turn into one thing of a health club rat to be able to be sturdy sufficient to resist as finest I can the trials of growing old.” | Marcia Freedman, First American Girl in Knesset, Dies at 83


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