Sisterhood Blog

Edie Windsor on TIME's Top Five

By Naomi Zeveloff

  • Print
  • Share Share

Edie Windsor, the plaintiff who toppled the Defense of Marriage Act before the Supreme Court, was named the number three runner up for Person of the Year by TIME magazine; she’s also the only woman on the list of five. (Number one was Pope Francis, and number two was NSA leaker Edward Snowden.)

The Forward also named Windsor in its top five list on the Forward 50, our annual ranking of people who have made the biggest difference in the American Jewish story. (We placed her at number two, after Newtown mother Veronique Pozner.)

TIME reporter Eliza Gray wrote a moving profile of Windsor (make sure to watch the gorgeous video that accompanies it), which fills in some details about her Jewish background, including a surprising anecdote about how her mother taught her to counter anti-Semitism:

Edith Windsor, who has always been called Edie, was born in 1929, the youngest of three, to James and Celia Schlain, immigrants from Russia who owned and lived above a candy and ice cream store in a poor part of Philadelphia. When Windsor was 2, the store was quarantined after she and her brother got polio. Her parents lost the store and their house. Despite this, Edie was sheltered from the Depression—her father took a hard-boiled-egg sandwich to work every day for lunch so he could buy books, and little Edie read voraciously. (She still has in her apartment the 19-volume dictionary her father used to learn English.) She was not sheltered from anti-Semitism. Her mother taught her that if a boy called her “a dirty Jew,” she should pull his hair and run home.

Windsor ended up marrying a man, and kept his last name after she divorced him less than a year after their wedding. She met her future wife, Thea Spyer, at a restaurant in 1963. Spyer proposed in 1967; four decades later, the two finally married in Toronto. When Spyer died in 2009, Windsor was saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax on Spyer’s estate because of DOMA. That injustice formed the basis for Windsor’s lawsuit against the federal government to ensure that gay and lesbian couples receive the same benefits as married heterosexual couples. The rest, as they say, is history.

Watch our interview with Roberta Kaplan, Windsor’s lawyer, for the Forward 50:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: lists, Thea Spyer, Jewish, TIME, Edie Windsor

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.