On Sunday, I had lunch with Fannia Cohn. So did Toba Penny from Moment, Sarah Perry, Rose Zoltek-Jick, and Leah Berkenwald from the Jewish Women’s Archive, and six other guests (including one man) at Table 24. We were gathered to commemorate the centennial of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and to celebrate Jewish women activists, past and present. Each of us was given a numbered card with a part of Fannia Cohn’s life story.
Fannia Cohn, born in 1885, grew up in a well-to-do family in what was the western part of the Russian empire: Kletzk, now part of Belarus. She was educated at home, and by the time she was 15, she was involved in secret revolutionary activities.
Just before turning 20, she and her brother immigrated to the U.S. aided by wealthy relatives who were already here. Fannia’s first job in the U.S. was with the American Jewish Women’s Committee helping other Jewish women arriving at Ellis Island.