Who Are The Baddest Jewish Women In History? 

In this Jew Know It episode, we delve into the captivating narratives of some of the baddest Jewish women in history – from ancient times to the modern era, these remarkable figures have left an indelible mark on Jewish and global history.

Deborah the Judge

In a tumultuous time for Israel, Deborah emerged as a powerful figure. Mentioned in the biblical book of Judges, she lived around the eleventh century BCE. Deborah was not only a prophetess and a judge but also a formidable force in military strategy. Under “Deborah’s Palm Tree,” people sought her guidance, and she crafted brilliant battle plans that led to Israel’s victory over the Canaanites. Known as the “mother in Israel,” Deborah’s leadership and empowerment left an indelible mark on history.

Queen Esther

The tale of Esther unfolds in the Persian Empire around 350 BCE. Faced with an order to annihilate all Jews, Esther devised a plan. After urging the Jewish people to pray and fast, she risked her life by approaching the king unsummoned. Impressed by her bravery, the king offered her anything she desired. Esther seized the moment, revealed her hidden Jewish heritage, and thwarted Haman’s plot, saving the Jews from destruction. This deliverance is celebrated as the festival of Purim, thanks to Queen Esther.

Judith Beheading Holofernes

In the second century BCE, Greek rulers imposed a disturbing rule requiring Jewish brides to spend a night with a Greek military officer. Enter Judith, who devised a clever plan. Leaving the city, she requested “alone time” with a Greek commander. After a feast where he became intoxicated, Judith took matters into her own hands and beheaded him. Displaying the commander’s head on Jerusalem’s walls, she sparked a turnaround in the Jewish revolt against the Greeks. Judith’s story echoes resilience and resourcefulness.

Golda Meir

Born in Kiev, Golda Meir became Israel’s 4th Prime Minister in 1969, making her one of the first female heads of government globally. A champion for Zionism, she played a pivotal role in establishing the State of Israel. Known for her sharp wit and determination, Meir shattered barriers in politics and advocated for women’s rights during the Yom Kippur War. Her legacy continues to inspire resilience and determination.

Hannah Szenes

Hungarian-born Jew Hannah Szenes exemplifies courage and sacrifice during World War 2. Joining the Jewish underground in Palestine, she became a Special Ops Paratrooper and parachuted into enemy territory in Hungary. Captured by Hungarian authorities, she endured torture without compromising crucial information. When offered clemency, she chose death by firing squad, leaving a legacy of fortitude and selflessness.

The Lioness Brigade:

Fast forward to October 7th, 2023, when the Lioness Brigade, an all-female tank squad in the Israeli Defense Forces, confronted a brutal attack by Hamas. Led by Lieutenant Colonel Or Ben Yehuda, the 13-member squad engaged in a 14-hour firefight, turning the tide against Hamas. Their courage showcased the strength and determination of female combat soldiers, drawing inspiration from the legacies of courageous Jewish women.

As we conclude this journey through the lives of extraordinary Jewish women, it becomes clear that their legacies of courage, resilience, and determination continue to resonate through time. From Deborah’s strategic brilliance to the Lioness Brigade’s contemporary valor, these stories serve as an inspiration, reminding us that the strength of Jewish women has played a pivotal role in shaping the course of history.

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