"Beate was just 22, the only woman in a room of lawyers and officers. She asked herself, “What do I know about constitutions?” Determined to learn, she scoured Tokyo for useful books. A few libraries had survived, battered guardians of hope to help people turn from war to peace."
Historical, multicultural, and beautifully illustrated (by Shiella Witanto) No Steps Behind is the unlikely story of Beate Sirota Gordon, just a girl when her Russian-Austrian-Jewish family found refuge in 1930s Japan. Beate became fluent in Japanese, loved the nation’s culture and people, but hated its treatment of women and proverbs like “Women walk three steps behind.” After World War II, putting her language and cultural skills to use, she returned to Japan and fought for equal rights for women to be enshrined in the post-war Japanese post-war constitution.  Though she won that battle, and remains a Japanese national hero, she is little known outside that country.


About Jewish Kidlit

Blogs and Articles

Students translate No Steps Behind to JapaneseColby College (Waterville ME, alma mater of author)

The Impossible Life of Beate Sirota Gordon-"Beate was a hero­ine with com­plex and over­lap­ping iden­ti­ties that defy easy categorization."

A Shock to the System- "We are just starting to see the effects of the Covid-19 shock on our world, nation, communities, families, and selves. May they prove as positive as the ones that Beate helped to bring to Japan."

© 2017 Jeff Gottesfeld |  Design by J. Greller 

Los Angeles, California

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram