Creation of Women's League of the United Synagogue
January 21, 1918
Five years to the day after the creation of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, Conservative synagogue sisterhoods joined together on January 21, 1918, to form the Women's League of the United Synagogue. The founding president of the League was Mathilde Roth Schechter, wife of Solomon Schechter, president of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Mathilde Schechter, born in Silesia and educated in Breslau and London, had married Solomon Schechter in 1887 and came to the U.S. in 1902, when Solomon was appointed president of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. The Women's League was just one in a line of significant projects for Mathilde Schechter. Before establishing the League, she had helped to establish a Jewish vocational school for girls on the Lower East Side of New York, and had helped to publish a hymn book called Kol Rina — Hebrew Hymnal for School and Home.
The Women's League's mission was to promote traditional Judaism in homes, synagogues, and communities. In line with that goal, one early project was the establishment of a kosher boarding house for Jewish students in New York City. Other projects included publications providing guidance on domestic religious ritual as well as traditional recipes and music. In addition, the League became involved with social action from an early date, taking an especially active role in the Jewish Braille Institute.
The League, now called the Women's League for Conservative Judaism, has grown from an original 100 women in 26 sisterhoods to 600 affiliated groups across North America. As it has since the beginning, the League continues to be involved in public policy issues, including women's health, literacy, and foreign policy. Since 1972, the League has also helped to support sisterhoods in Masorti (Israeli Conservative) congregations.
See also: Conservative Judaism in the United States.
Sources: Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 1201-1203, 1493-1497; Women's League for Conservative Judaism, www.wlcj.org.