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.”
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.”
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 several years in New Mexico.
Kaye/Kantrowitz has described herself as a “Conscious Jew”.
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.
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”.
Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz taught the first Women's studies course at the University of California at Berkeley. She has also taught at Hamilton College, Brooklyn College/CUNY, and Vermont College, 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’’.
- Kaye/Kantrowitz, Klepfisz. ‘’The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology’’, 1986, ISBN 0-931103-02-9, p324
- Kaye/Kantrowitz, Klepfisz. ‘’The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology’’, 1986, ISBN 0-931103-02-9, p264
- Kaye/Kantrowitz, Klepfisz. ‘’The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology’’, 1986, ISBN 0-931103-02-9, p266/286 note
- Kaye/Kantrowitz, Klepfisz. ‘’The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology’’, 1986, ISBN 0-931103-02-9, pp267-8
- Kaye/Kantrowitz, Klepfisz. ‘’The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology’’, 1986, ISBN 0-931103-02-9, p7
- Mankiller, Wilma Pearl. The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History, Houghton Mifflin, 1998, ISBN 0-618-00182-4, p339
- Dykewomon, Elana. ‘’Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz: Phone Interview from NYC, Nov. 27, 1993”, ‘’Sinister Wisdom’’ Issue 52, Allies, Spring/Summer 1994, p27
- "Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz". Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution. Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- Barrington, Judith. ‘’An Intimate Wilderness: Lesbian Writers on Sexuality’’, The Eighth Mountain Press, 1991, ISBN 0-933377-09-6, p289
- Masthead ‘’Sinister Wisdom’’ Issue 52, Allies, Spring/Summer 1994, interior cover page