American Jewish Radicals | Osher Marin Jewish Community Center

American Jewish Radicals

Wed, April 10, 2019 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

American Radicals

A four course series that explores the important history of American Jewish radicals and their impact on major social change efforts.

Select Wednesdays: 3/20, 3/27, 4/3, 4/10


Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael

At a time when America has major political and social problems it becomes necessary to look at previous times in history to learn methods of coping. American Jewish radicals have long been at the forefront of major social change efforts. Beginning with early Jewish radicals in the labor movement and other social justice efforts Dr. Elaine Leeder will teach a four-week course on this important history

Leeder, who has a PhD from Cornell University where she wrote about Rose Pesotta: Anarchist and Labor Organizer, will discuss important Jewish radicals starting with Rose Schneiderman, Clara Lemlich, Pauline Newman and others in the labor movement. She will then move on to Jews active in the 40’s to 50’s like Saul Alinsky, Sam Dolgoff and Julius Lester.  In yet another class she will discuss the radicals of the 60’s like Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Todd Gitlin; these activists were important in the anti-war efforts. In another class she will discuss the radical Jewish women of the feminist movement like Betty Freidan, Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug.

Prior to each lecture Gale Kissin, singer and guitarist, will delight us with songs from the various eras that Leeder will be covering. 

Leeder will provide excerpts from the writings of several of the activists covered and will provide her book ROSE PESOTTA: ANARCHIST AND LABOR ORGANIZER for background on Jews as radicals.                       


ELAINE LEEDER is a Professor Emerita of Sociology and the Dean Emerita of the School of Social Sciences at Sonoma State University. Previously she was a Professor at Ithaca College, Ithaca NY. She has 42 years of distinguished accomplishments and experience in academia and public service. Leeder is listed in Who’s Who of America Women, Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who of American Teachers. Her awards include a National Endowment of the Humanities Fellowship, Visiting Scholar status at the United States Holocaust Museum, outstanding teaching awards, research and travel grants and numerous awards from student and community agencies. Leeder has an MSW from Yeshiva University, an MPH from University of California at Berkeley and a PhD from Cornell University, has published six books and numerous articles. Her book The Family in Global Perspective: A Gendered Journey is based on her Semester At Sea voyages in 1992, 1999 and 2013. One of her books My Life with Lifers: Lessons for a Teacher, Humanity Has No Bars describes her work at San Quentin State Prison. Her book The Gentle General: Rose Pesotta, Anarchist and Labor Organizer will be used as a basis for this course. Her exemplary career encompasses roles as professor/teacher, psychotherapist, consultant, author and advocate for social justice. Visit her at

GALE KISSIN, vocalist and guitar player, will contextualize music to parallel Dr. Leeder’s American Jewish Radicals seminars. Her music will enhance the lecture series with songs expressing our aspirations in the universal struggle for human rights, justice and dignity. 


Location: Kurland 
Cost: Free, RSVP Required