“I’m Beginning to See What My Parents Saw in 1930s”

Irena Klepfisz, daughter of Holocaust survivors and a second-wave feminist, explains why she joined the Women’s March on N.Y.C. against President Donald Trump.


Moises Rosenfeld, left, and Irena Klepfisz at the March on NYC, Jan. 21, 2017 (photo: Neta Alexander)

Like a real-life Forrest Gump, the Jewish lesbian poet, activist and academic Irena Klepfisz has had a constant presence in countless historical events since the 1940s: She was born in the Warsaw Ghetto on April 17, 1941 to Michal Klepfisz, a member of the Jewish Labor Bund, and the former Rose Perczykow. Her father died just two years later, on April 20, 1943, killed in the second day of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. After hiding in Sweden for several years, in 1949 Klepfisz and her mother fled to the United States.

Klepfisz, a second-wave feminist in the 1960s and ‘70s, has been an active participant in the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and other struggles for equality and social change in the United States and in Israel. In the late 1980s, she co-founded the Jewish Women’s Committee to End the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

It was therefore not surprising to find Klepfisz in the Women’s March on N.Y.C., in midtown Manhattan on Saturday, together with hundreds of thousands of people who turned out to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump on Friday and express support for civil and human rights.

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