Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz is a lesbian essayist, poet, activist and academic, born in 1945 in Brooklyn, New York. [Kaye/Kantrowitz, Klepfisz. ‘’The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology’’, 1986, ISBN:0931103029, p324]

Early life

Her grandparents emigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe, Poland and Russia. [Kaye/Kantrowitz, Klepfisz. ‘’The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology’’, 1986, ISBN:0931103029, p264]

Kaye/Kantrowitz was active in the Harlem Civil Rights Movement as a teenager. [ ] When she was 17, she worked with the Harlem Education Project, a project of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. About this she says “It was my first experience with a mobilizing proud community and with the possibilities of collective action.” [Kaye/Kantrowitz, Klepfisz. ‘’The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology’’, 1986, ISBN:0931103029, p266/286 note]

She associates her activism with her Jewish upbringing, stating that it was related to her family's Jewish cultural and political heritage “as much as the candles we lit for Hanukkah, or the Seders where bread and matzoh shared the table.’ She states in her essay, "To Be a Radical Jew in the Late 20th Century" that her “parents had not pushed (her) into activism, yet clearly they raised (her) to do these things.” [Kaye/Kantrowitz, Klepfisz. ‘’The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology’’, 1986, ISBN:0931103029, p264]

In 1966 Kaye/Kantrowitz left New York for Graduate School in Berkeley, California. From there, she moved to Portland, Oregon, remaining there until 1979. She then spent a couple years in New Mexico. [Kaye/Kantrowitz, Klepfisz. ‘’The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology’’, 1986, ISBN:0931103029, pp267-8]


Kaye/Kantrowitz has described herself as a “Conscious Jew”. [Kaye/Kantrowitz, Klepfisz. ‘’The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology’’, 1986, ISBN:0931103029, p324]

Along with Nancy Bereano, Evelyn T. Beck, Bernice Mennis, Irena Klepfisz and Adrienne Rich, Kaye/Kantrowitz was a member of Di Vilde Chayes (English: The Wild Beasts), A Jewish feminist group that examined and responded to political issues in the Middle East, as well as to antisemitism. [Kaye/Kantrowitz, Klepfisz. ‘’The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology’’, 1986, ISBN:0931103029, p7] [Mankiller, Wilma Pearl. The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History, Houghton Mifflin, 1998, ISBN:0618001824, p339]

In 1990, she acted as a founding director for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice a progressive Jewish organization focused mostly on anti-racist work and issues of economic justice. [Dykewomon, Elana. ‘’Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz: Phone Interview from NYC, Nov. 27, 1993”, ‘’Sinister Wisdom’’ Issue 52, Allies, Spring/Summer 1994, p27] cite web | last = | first = | coauthors = | title = Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz | work =Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution | publisher = Jewish Women's Archive| date = | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-07-02 ]

Around that time, she also co-founded ‘’Beyond the Pale: The Progressive Jewish Radio Hour’’, a radio program aired weekly on WBAI (99.5 FM) which “mixes local, national, and international political debate and analysis, from a progressive Jewish perspective with the voices and sounds of contemporary Jewish culture” [ ]

Kaye/Kantrowitz has also served on the steering committee of the group New Jewish Agenda. [Barrington, Judith. ‘’An Intimate Wilderness: Lesbian Writers on Sexuality’’, The Eighth Mountain Press, 1991, ISBN: 0933377096, p289]


Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz taught the first Womens studies course at the University of California at Berkeley. She has also taught at Hamilton College, Brooklyn College/CUNY, and Vermont College [Kaye/Kantrowitz, Klepfisz. ‘’The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology’’, 1986, ISBN:0931103029, p324] [ [ Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz - Home ] ] , and currently teaches at Queens College in Jewish Studies, History and Comparative Literature. [ ]


Published works include:
*‘’The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology’’, (with Irena Klepfisz)
*‘’My Jewish Face, and Other Stories’’
*‘’We Speak in Code’’
*‘’The Issue is Power: Essays on Women, Jews, Violence and Resistance’’ Aunt Lute Books

Kaye/Kantrowitz has also contributed to anthologies like:
*‘’Nice Jewish Girls’’
*‘’Fight Back: Feminist Resistance to Male Violence"
*"Lesbian Poetry’’.

She also edited the Lesbian periodical Sinister Wisdom from 1983 to 1987. [Masthead ‘’Sinister Wisdom’’ Issue 52, Allies, Spring/Summer 1994, interior cover page]


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