Here are some more excerpts of the reader responses, lightly edited for clarity.
Martina Navratilova (submitted by Thea Breite)
I was a tennis player and she was the one I identified with. People hated her. She was muscular and a super athlete and was great at the net. Of course she turned out to be a lesbian, which confirmed all the homophobic stereotypes of strong women athletes. Turned out, I did as well.
She was the opposite of Chrissy Evert — pony-tailed, slight, who sat back and hit at the baseline. Everett was everything that all the other girls loved. Prim and proper. Girl-like.
I hated everything “girl-like.” I was an athlete at a time and place when nobody liked us. We were supposed to be like Doris Day, the tomboy-until-she-liked-a-boy. Then she would magically swap her baseball glove for a frilly dress. At least that’s how I remembered it.
I’m so glad that my nonbinary kid now has so many other strong women to choose as a hero.
Gertrude Goldsmith (mother of Dick Goldsmith)
My dad got sick when I was 4 and my sister 8. He died two years later. My mom raised us both as mother and father and worked every day, taking over the business he had started. She schlepped a big heavy sample case around for years till her back wouldn’t let her anymore. She traveled around the Midwest for a week at a time, going at night from city to city by bus. Many women have done and are doing the same and they are all superheroes.
Anat Hoffman and Anita Hill (Linda Shivers)
Anat has done an amazing amount to help women and secular Jews in Israel and Anita Hill is one of the bravest people I have ever heard of.
Anita Emmercih Hyman (mother of Judith H. Darsky)
In the mid-1950s, as the president of our local elementary school PTA in Cincinnati, she attended a national PTA conference in Oklahoma City. There, she was outraged to learn that the accommodations were segregated. She spoke up publicly to ensure that never again would the organization’s conference take place in a segregated city.
Dolly Parton (Paula Berman)
Not for her musical fame, but for what she has used her fame to do — support other women singers and songwriters; set up a foundation that provides free books to children under 6; single-handedly reduce the high-school dropout rate in her county by 30% (!) by providing incentives and setting up a buddy program; setting up a sanctuary for bald eagles; providing funds that were instrumental in developing the Moderna vaccine; and always, always speaking out for inclusion, welcome and respect for all.
Rona, my wife of 54 years (Ira Kellman)
She is an active volunteer helping people all the time personally and for organizations. She not only adopted an entirely new lifestyle when we married, but became a leader in our community. She is kind, loving and a great cook.
Inge Barth-Grözinger, author (Carole Blueweiss)
Inge wrote the novel Something Remains, (Etwas Bleibt in German). As I read the book while looking for information to complete an 80th birthday montage for my mother, I saw on page 38 the name of my great-great-grandfather: Julius Levi. … Because of Inge’s book, I found a cousin I did not know about (the son of the novel’s protagonist) and I learned more about my family.
Dr. Ida Davidoff, an expert on aging (Sonia Pressman Fuentes)
Ida was the consummate Jewish mother. Shortly before her death at 97, my daughter and I came by for a visit. Ida’s daughter Leonore, a feminist professor who lived and taught at a college in the U.K., was there visiting, and Ida was serving lunch.
When she served my daughter her homemade soup, my daughter said she was allergic to that kind of soup. “No problem,” said Ida, and went to her freezer and brought another kind of homemade soup, which suited my daughter’s taste.