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Marcia Freedman (1938-2021), obituary

Wednesday 29 September 2021, by siawi3

Source: email

On 23 Sep 2021, at 18:48, Rauda Morcos wrote:

Dearest all,
I am forwarding the post from Terry Greenblatt (from yesterday):

With the heaviest of hearts I am posting the obituary we prepared last night for my sister-friend, organizer extraordinaire and co-conspiritor Marcia Freedman passed away. May her memory be a blessing.

Marcia Freedman (1938-2021) was an American-Israeli women’s rights and peace and justice activist. Born in the United States, Freedman, along with her then husband Bill Freedman and their daughter Jenny, emigrated to Israel in 1967.
After an academic career during the early seventies, she was a co-founder and leader in the feminist movement there.
In 1973 she was elected to the Knesset and served until 1977 as a member of the Citizens Rights Movement. During her tenure, she advocated for women’s issues, feminist reform and rights of Palestinian citizens in Israel. As a result of her work, the Youth Ministry’s budget for girls in distress was increased and wife battering in Israel was investigated ; later opened the first battered women’s shelter, helped create a network of support and services for women, and introduced legislation that led to the reform of Israel’s highly restrictive abortion law. She co-founded the Women’s Party in 1977. She also co-founded and helped run the Kol Ha-Isha Women’s Center in Haifa, and was a member of and advocate for recognition and legitimacy of the Israeli queer community.

Marcia returned to the United States in 1981 and settled in the Bay Area, publishing her memoir, Exile in the Promised Land in 1990. She helped create the Women’s Computer Literacy Project and was the Director of Marketing for the American Society on Aging, where she established the Lesbian and Gay Aging Issues Network. She again returned to Israel for extended stays from 1997 to 2002, helping to co-found the Community School for Women, which offered courses in women’s studies and employment skills to underserved women.

In 2002 she co-founded Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, a nonprofit grass roots organization that supported the establishment of a Palestinian state, and served as its president.

More recently she was a member of Ashby Village and its Board of Directors, and was a co-founder of Elder Action, a political group within the organization, and served on the steering committee of the Arts and Culture Series. She contributed her activist energies, and visionary and thoughtful leadership and commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion and access to Village.

Her activism was also always informed by an indomitable spirit, optimism, and a zest for life. She leaves her daughter Jenny Freedman, granddaughter Ella Freedman-Hague and circles upon circles of people here and in Israel whose lives she enriched and nonprofit organizations that grew through her leadership and care.

Shiva information will be forthcoming and an event to commemorate her life will be held in the spring.

Marcia has requested that any donations in her honor should be directed to Gun Free Kitchen Tables (GFKT) in Israel. GFKT works to collect and seed knowledge and concern about guns throughout civil society in Israel, challenging and undoing the militarized equation of guns with security. Today they lead a Coalition of 18 feminist and civil society organizations, and have placed their feminist critique of small arms proliferation – and their particular dangers to women and minority groups – on the agendas of Israeli policymakers and the Israeli public. -

For Paypal and credit card donations click HERE

For bank transfer donations:
Account Number: 105-413461
Bank Code: 31
Branch number: 007
IBAN: IL380310070000000413461
Account Holder’s name: Isha L’Isha – Haifa Feminist Center
please write to let us know about the donation at:

Sincerely Yours,

Rauda Morcos, Attorney (LL.M)



Marcia Freedman

Faction represented in the Knesset
1974–1975 Ratz
1975–1976 Ya’ad – Civil Rights Movement
1976–1977 Independent Socialist Faction

Personal details
Born 17 May 1938
Newark, New Jersey, United States
Died 21 September 2021 (aged 83)

Marcia Freedman (Hebrew: מרשה פרידמן‎, 17 May 1938 – 21 September 2021) was an American-Israeli activist on behalf of peace, women’s rights, and gay rights. In 1969, she immigrated to Israel where she helped establish and lead the feminist movement in the 1970s. She was a member of the Knesset from 1974 to 1977.

1 Biography
2 See also
3 References
4 Further reading
5 External links


Born in Newark in the United States, Freedman received a BA from Bennington College and an MA from New York University.[1] She was active in the American Civil Rights Movement between 1960 and 1967. In 1967 she immigrated to Israel, and soon became involved in activism and politics. She became famous from her desire to improve abortion laws and raise awareness to the civil rights movement.[2]

In 1973, the feminist movement decided to support Shulamit Aloni’s Ratz (the Civil Rights Movement), and Freedman was given third place on the Ratz slate. She caught Shulamit Aloni’s attention based on her passion, commitment, and enthusiasm for the movement.[3] Aloni asked Freedman to be the third seat on the party.[3] The party won three seats in the 1973 Israeli legislative election, and Freedman became a member of the Knesset. Ratz soon merged into Ya’ad – Civil Rights Movement, but Freedman and Aryeh Eliav broke away to form the Social-Democratic Faction (later renamed the Independent Socialist Faction). Freedman served in the Knesset from 1974 to 1977.[2] She became a strong advocate for Gay Rights movements because she came out as a lesbian to her daughter and her daughter started to isolate from her.[2]

Prior to the 1977 elections Freedman formed the Women’s Party,[4] though she did not stand as its candidate. The party failed to cross the 1% electoral threshold though it did succeed in attracting public support for women’s issues. While a member of the Knesset, Freedman was outspoken on women’s issues and brought to public attention issues that had never been discussed publicly in Israel, including domestic violence, breast cancer, rape, incest, and teenage prostitution. In addition, Freedman became increasingly involved with the discussion on peace with the Palestinians.[3] However, in her interview in 2015 with the American Jewish Peace Archive, she stated that she “was drawn into what I would call foreign policy issues because I was a member of Knesset, and that was totally accidental and unplanned” (about her involvement with the Palestinian conflict).[3] Freedman was an early supporter of the creation of a Palestinian independent state. She was involved in communications with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and supported what is now known as the two-state solution.[3]

Freedman helped create an advocacy and support network for women in Israel. She was a co-founder, together with Barbara Swersky and others of Israel’s first shelter for battered women, established in 1977 in Haifa. Freedman left Israel and returned to the United States in 1981. She again lived in Israel from 1997 to 2002, and founded the Community of Learning Women, which provided education in women’s studies and computer literacy.[4][5][6]

Freedman wrote an article titled “Feminist Publishing in Israel” for the Women’s Studies Newsletter in 1980. She spoke about different bookstores involving feminist books in Hebrew and the six publishers that allows feminist works to be published. She also spoke about how few books on feminism were originally written in Hebrew and the minimal efforts there were to publish feminist writings.[7]

Freedman wrote a memoir entitled, Exile in the Promised Land. Her memoir was dedicated to her father named Phillip Prince. She stated on the dedication page, “whose example I have largely followed.” She was also the author of many articles and reviews.[4]

Freedman was the founding president of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom,[4][5] a pro-Israel and pro-peace organization which merged into J Street in 2010.[8] She was also a past president of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.[4]

Marcia Freedman died on 21 September 2021 at the age of 83.[8][9] As of 2021, she remains the only openly lesbian woman to have served in the Knesset.[8]