Jewesses of To-day
RAY FRANK, THE JEWISH LADY PREACHER.
BY OUR SPECIAL COMMISIONER
People who are interested in American news must often have heardthe name of Ray Frank, one of the most remarkable young Jewesses thatAmerica or any other country has produced in modern times. She isoften described as a female Rabbi. As a matter of fact, she is not aRabbi, though more than one Rabbinical post has been offered to her.But in an unofficial sort of way she has performed Rabbinicalfunctions, having occupied Jewish pulpits, not only in Reformcongregations, but in Orthodox ones as well. She has spoken also onnumerous secular platforms, and is one of the best knows ladylecturers in America. She is likewise prominent as a journalist andan educationalist, and, indeed, there are few forms of public workwith which she has not identified herself. Imbued with strongreligious enthusiasms, she has been a unique force for good among herco-religionists, men as well as women, while the influence of herwritings and addresses has extended itself far beyond the Jewishcommunities of America.
Miss Frank was recently spending a few months in London, which shevisited with the object of surveying Anglo-Jewish institutions, andon her way to Russia, where she wishes to study the ways of RussianJews in their native home. Before she left England I had anopportunity of one or two conversations with her, and induced her togive me an interview for the columns of Israel.
Of course, I wanted her portrait to accompany this article. ButMiss Frank has such a deeply-rooted objection to journalisticphotographs that I had to waive this point, and must endeavour tosupplement the slight memory sketch by an artistic friend, that ishere reproduced, with a pen-and-ink picture of her striking figure inmy own words.
Imagine a tall, dark young woman, with a delicate, oval face,straight, regular features, and black, plainly-parted hair. Her highforehead and finely-shaped bead betoken intellectual power. When shespeaks, her dark eyes light up with an intense earnestness. She has amobile mouth, expressive of sympathy, and sensitive nostrils whichwould seem to indicate the possession of an artistic temperament. Shetalks with great fluency on almost any topic, and her conversation isfull of charm. What her age is I do not know, and could not well ask.But as interviewers say in America, she is "past twenty-one."
Such is Ray Frank, altogether a remarkable personality, whoimpresses those who come in contact with her as gifted, in noordinary degree, with splendid qualities of heart and mind. Of herspiritual fervour there can be no question: but whether there is notalso something of the mystic in her character is a point upon which Ihave not quite make up my mind.
Ray Frank is the daughter of Mr. Bernard Frank, of San Francisco,California, and is descended through him from the famous Wilna Gaon,who was her great-great-grandfather. Miss Frank's father was one ofthe pioneer settlers on the north-west coast of the United States,and he is the first Jew who ever held an office in the Western Statesin connection with Indian affairs. He has had a very eventful career,and has always been to the fore in every new movement. For some yearshis family have been settled in San Francisco, and there Ray Frankwas born and grew up. She received her education at the University ofCalifornia, and studied science and philosophy under the famous LeCant and Howisson. Leaving California, she went to Cincinnati, whereshe became a student of the Hebrew Union College, the well-knownAmerican institution presided over by Dr. Wise, in which the majorityof the present generation of American Rabbis have been trained. Shestudied Hebrew Literature under Prof. Deutsch.
In the meanwhile she entered upon public work. Ever since the ageof sixteen she had been contributing to the American press. She nowcame forward as a lecturer on Jewish and other subjects. Hereloquence attracted large audiences: the fluency with which she couldspeak on almost any topic, without preparation and without a note ofany kind, spread her reputation as a public speaker far and wide. She traveled all over the Pacific coast, lecturing on such subjectsas "Jews and Judaism," "Heart-throbs of Israel," "Jewish Folklore,""Music and its Revelations," "Queens of Society," "Woman at Home,"and "Art and Letters." Some of these lectures were a means ofbringing together Jewish and Christian women who had never metbefore.
Miss Frank spoke in the Women's Section of the Parliament ofReligions, which was held at Chicago a few years ago, in connectionwith the World's Fair. When she arrived there, she was asked, quiteunexpectedly, to open the meeting with a prayer. About the same timea meeting of war veterans of the United States Army was held inChicago. In the same unexpected manner, she was called upon toaddress the soldiers. She spoke to them on "The Daughters of theRepublic."