MATILDA RABINOWITZ, seen here circa 1912.
(photo credit: COURTESY ROBBIN HENDERSON)
Imagine a single mother in the 1920s. Now imagine her on the forefront of nascent unionism, leading thousands in strikes for their working rights while embodying the ideals of feminism and free love, reveling in motherhood and well in the fray. This is the story of Matilda Rabinowitz.Immigrant Girl, Radical Woman, written by her and her granddaughter, has been published as an illustrated memoir more than 50 years after Rabinowitz’s death. Small in stature, but huge in spirit, Rabinowitz was one of the few female labor organizers in the early 20th century. She writes about her start as a young girl in a Russian Jewish shtetl through emigrating to the tenements of New York and beyond. With only an eighth-grade education, Rabinowitz became a dedicated and effective activist galvanizing workers – especially other immigrants – to stand up for their basic rights at a time when a 55-hour work week was standard and there was no minimum wage.