As a young girl, Bella Savitzky was a tomboy. As a teenager, she spent her free time hiking, going to concerts, and being active in the Zionist youth group Hashomer Hatzair (the Youth Guard).
She attended Hunter College and then Columbia University Law School where she met and married Martin Abzug. He was an unusual man for the 1950s: he was proud to support his wife’s career and take on much of the responsibility of raising their two daughters.
Bella Abzug had a busy law practice working on behalf of labor unions, civil rights, fair housing, and civil liberties before winning a seat in the House of Representatives in 1970. After she left Congress in 1977, Bella spent another two decades working for equality, justice, and human rights. She died in 1998.
In Congress, Bella was an outspoken voice for women’s rights, the environmental and anti-war movements, and gay and lesbian rights, among other causes. Although she was loud and brash, Bella was good at working with people with whom she disagreed.
Bella was 13 when her father died. Even though women in her Orthodox community were not expected to say the Mourner’s Kaddish, Bella went to the synagogue every day to say the prayer in memory of her father.