The Downton Abbey-Era Jewish Suffragettes


The Jewish World called them “blackguards in bonnets.”

In October 1913, 3 women were thrown out of London’s New West End Synagogue during Yom Kippur services after loudly declaring: “May God forgive Herbert Samuel and Sir Rufus Isaacs for denying freedom to women; may God forgive them for consenting to the torture of women.”

Members of the Jewish League for Woman Suffrage—founded 101 years ago yesterday—these women worked to secure voting rights and to “unite Jewish Suffragists of all shades of opinion for religious and educational activities.”

Despite what the Jewish World called some members’ “wretchedly bad behavior,” the JLWS was a respected and internationally active organization, boasting prominent female and male members, including writer Israel Zangwill.

Their hard work paid off, unorthodox or not: The United Kingdom enfranchised women over the age of 30 in 1918 and granted women full suffrage in 1928.

Thanks, ladies (and gentlemen)!

Sing along to Mary Poppins’ “Sister Suffragette”:

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