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"A Lay Sermon by a Young Lady"

A Yom Kippur sermon by Ray Frank, 1890

This sermon was published in the American Hebrew (October 1890).
Courtesy of Klau Library, Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion

"A Lay Sermon by a Young Lady," a Yom Kippur sermon, Part 1 of 3
Full image
The text of a sermon given by Ray Frank on the eve of Yom Kippur.
Part 2 and part 3.
The text of the sermon reads as follows:
Ladies and gentlemen, and--considering this is Yom Kippur eve, I know you will permit me to say--friends, brothers and sisters; for surely to-night is one of the most solemn and sacred periods in the lives of Israelites, for to-night, at least, we must be brother and sister in letter and spirit, My position this evening is a novel one. From time immemorial the Jewish woman has remained in the background of history, quite content to let the fathers and brother be the principals in a picture wherein she shone only by a reflected light. And it is well that it has been so; for while she has let the stronger ones do battle for her throughout centuries of darkness and opposition, she has gathered strengths and courage to come forward in an age of progressive enlightenment and do battle for herself if necessary, or prove by being a noble helpmeet how truly she appreciates the love which shielded her in the past.
I can scarcely tell you how much I feel the honor you have this evening conferred upon me in asking me to address you. For a woman to be at any time asked to give counsel to my people would be a mark of esteem; but on this night of nights, on Yom Kippur eve, to be requested to talk to you, to advise you, to think that perhaps I am to-night the one Jewish woman in the world, mayhap the first since the time of the prophets to be called on to speak to such an audience as I now see before me, is indeed a great honor, an event in my life which I can never forget.
The time is short, and the story I have to tell a long one; I must therefore do as a young friend of mine did who was once called upon for a narrative--that is--"begin in the middle."
I have been requested to speak to you concerning the formation of a permanent congregation. On Rosh Hashanah I was surprised to find such a large number of you assembled her for worship, and at that time the idea of a permanent congregation first occurred to me. Mentioning the matter to some of the prominent Jewish gentlemen of Spokane, I was informed that the number of Hebrews and their financial standing was sufficient to warrant an established congregation. "Theo," said I, "how is it you are content to go on in this way having neither schule not a Sabbath School? Do you think you are doing right towards yourselves, towards your children who are growing up without a creed of any kind, a most dangerous thing for society and a most ungrateful way of paying tribute to God." I was answered that such a difference of opinion existed among you, so many were prejudiced...
*This is the address delivered on Yom Kippur eve before the worshippers at Spokane Falls by –– Ray Frank, a young Jewess from Oakland, Cal., who was visiting the formet [sic] place. We referred to this...

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. ""A Lay Sermon by a Young Lady"." (Viewed on February 11, 2016) <>.


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