Death of Texan Jeanette Miriam Goldberg, organizer of Texas NJCW chapter & Jewish Chautauqua Society
February 28, 1935
Born in 1868 to Russian immigrant parents, Jeannette Miriam Goldberg grew up in Jefferson, Texas, at that time the sixth-largest town in the state. She was raised amidst a vibrant and successful Jewish merchant community. After completing her education at Vassar College and New York's Rutgers Female Institute, she returned to Texas as a teacher in both religious and secular schools.
Like many professional women of her era, Goldberg took volunteer work seriously, becoming the education chairman of the Texas Woman's Council and lecturing before the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs. In 1898, she organized Texas's first chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) in the East Texas town of Tyler. Though this chapter began with just seven women, she reported that it was "large in zeal and enthusiasm." Goldberg went on to organize NCJW chapters in Waco, Dallas, and Fort Worth. In 1902, she was elected a national director of the Council; in this role, she traveled around the country organizing Council chapters and bringing energy to small congregations.
Seeing Goldberg's success as an organizer, the Jewish Chautauqua Society (JCS) hired her as a field secretary in 1905. She later became the Society's executive secretary. In this role, Goldberg created study circles and correspondence classes for religious school teachers, enabling the mostly female participants to develop professionally while also building a sense of community. Under Goldberg's leadership, the JCS—the goal of which was to encourage the study of Judaism among both Jews and non-Jews—also founded religious schools in regions as varied as North and South Dakota and southern New Jersey.
Though she lived in Philadelphia, where the JCS was headquartered, for the last 30 years of her life, Goldberg always identified herself as a Texan. When she died on February 28, 1935, she was eulogized as "a modern Miriam" and a "high priestess" of Judaism.
See also: The National Council of Jewish Women.
Source:Hollace Ava Weiner, "The Jewish Junior League: The Rise and Demise of the Fort Worth Council of Jewish Women, 1901-2002," (MA thesis, University of Texas, Arlington, 2004).