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

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

She had been recognized with renal and coronary heart illness, her daughter, Jennifer Freedman, mentioned in confirming the loss of life.

Ms. Freedman, who was born in New Jersey, had been pursuing her doctorate in philosophy at Stanford when, in 1967, she obtained a proposal 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, considered one of which went to Ms. Freedman.

She served via 1977. Along with being the primary American-born girl in the Knesset, she was the primary and solely open lesbian ever to have served there, in line with The Instances of Israel.

Ms. Freedman made her identify by elevating points that had been rising amongst feminists in the US however that had been hardly ever 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 below fixed criticism and was typically dismissed by her colleagues. Some steered that there was no such factor as home violence, though loads of ladies confirmed up at the shelter for battered ladies 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 docs’ conference in Tel Aviv. In main a protest in opposition to the docs, she mentioned they opposed the liberalization of abortion legal guidelines and at the identical 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 answer to the Israeli-Palestinian battle.

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

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

Marcia Judith Prince was born on Could 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 in the course of the Nineteen Thirties and ’40s, a self-taught immigrant. From him I realized not solely values and political acumen, but in addition the worth of questioning obtained knowledge.”

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

“She realized 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 degree the place issues occur,” Nan Gefen, one other longtime good friend, mentioned in a telephone interview. “She realized from her father that that is who you’re and what you do in 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 in the Promised Land” (1990), recounts her experiences in Israel, each the political and the private, together with the tip of her marriage to Mr. Freedman in 1975.

Beginning in the early 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 referred to as 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 Avenue, which has carried on that mission.

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

As she wrote at age 72 in her notes for her Bennington reunion, “I’ve change into one thing of a health club rat in order to be sturdy sufficient to face up to as finest I can the pains of growing old.”

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