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Philanthropy

Blanche Frank Ittleson

Blanche Frank Ittleson was born September 27, 1875, into the third generation of a prominent German Jewish family in St. Louis. She was the oldest of four siblings, all brothers. After completing high school, she trained as a kindergarten teacher. In 1898, she married Henry J. Ittleson. They had two sons, Henry, Jr., and Lee, who was retarded. Moved by Lee’s needs, Ittleson continued her interest in child development and studied social work at Washington University’s School of Social Economics. The Ittleson family moved to New York City in 1915, where Henry Ittleson founded Credit and Investment Company, the first time-payment company in the United States. (It is now the CIT Financial Corporation, a broadly diversified financial company.)

Italy, Modern

The history of Italian Jews in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is essentially a story of social integration and embourgeoisement, with the exception of the years of Fascism, the racial laws (1938) and World War II. In Italy, each pre-unification state had a particular relation to its Jewish population, reflecting the strong regional differences that in many ways were maintained even after political unification in 1860.Even if the different realities of Italian Jewry were shaped by the history and the socio-cultural context in which they lived, some elements—such as the high degree of literacy among Jewish women and men—distinguished the Italian Jewish population in general. This literacy, which characterised nearly all Italian communities, with the exception of Rome, remained an advantage over the gentile population long after the barriers of the ghetto were pulled down.

Italy, Early Modern

Jews have lived on the Italian peninsula uninterruptedly since antiquity. During the middle ages, the center of the Jewish population of Italy shifted from the south to the north. There, during the early-modern period, having been granted charters, local Jews, joined by refugees from Europe, including waves from French, German, and Iberian lands, provided valuable services as moneylenders and merchants. Although this period saw anti-Jewish agitation by churchmen and the establishment of ghettos, new governmental bodies to supervise the Jews, and local inquisitions, the fact that Italy was not unified provided the Jews with opportunities to leave one city-state to bring their services to another that offered greater promise for more tranquility, an incentive for their hosts to ensure their continued presence.

Esther Herrman

Esther Herrman was born on August 7, 1823, in Utrecht, the Netherlands, to Sophia (Van Ysen) and Emanuel Mendels. She had three sisters, Gamma (b. 1821), Jette (b. 1821), and Adelaide (b. 1825), and came to the United States as a child following her mother’s death in 1827. In 1843, she married Henry Herrman, a native of Baden who was born October 13, 1822. By 1847, Esther and Henry had moved from New York City to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he started a business supplying sailing vessels. Their first children were born there: Sophia (1847) and Henrietta (1848). They moved to Boston, where Henry operated a clothing business and their son Abraham was born (1850).

Florence Heller

Florence Grunsfeld Heller, who became a social worker, volunteer leader in Chicago, and benefactor of Brandeis University, was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on March 2, 1897, the daughter of Ivan and Hannah (Nusbaum) Grunsfeld and the granddaughter of Albert and Heldegarde (David) Grunsfeld. Her parents and grandparents were German immigrants who came to the United States in 1873, settling in the territory of New Mexico. Her father was a wholesale merchant. Her initial years of schooling in Albuquerque were followed by years at Bradford Academy in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Faulkner School for Girls in Chicago, Illinois. In Chicago, at age sixteen or seventeen, Florence Grunsfeld lived with her maternal uncle, Julius Rosenwald—the founder of Sears Roebuck and Company—and his wife. Florence Heller’s son Peter credits the Rosenwalds with instilling in her a strong devotion and sense of obligation to society.

Lina Frank Hecht

Born in 1848 in Baltimore to wealthy Bavarian immigrants, Lina Frank Hecht received a private education and moved in Baltimore’s elite Jewish circles. In 1867, she married Jacob Hecht (born 1834), who had immigrated to America in 1848, established a wholesale shoe business with his family in California, Baltimore, and Boston, and who, by the time he met Lina, was already a wealthy man. The couple moved to Boston and became leading members of the German Jewish philanthropic community. Uniquely in her time and society, Lina Hecht established her independent identity as a female philanthropist and social reformer.

Rita Eleanor Hauser

Rita E. Hauser is a woman of many accomplishments. She was a trailblazer for women in law, politics and foreign affairs at a time when few women entered the legal profession or achieved top-level positions in business and politics. She was instrumental in persuading Yasir Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization to renounce terrorism publicly and to recognize Israel. She has been involved in Republican presidential politics since Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign, and she was invited to join a major Wall Street law firm as its first woman partner.

Sylvia Hassenfeld

Sylvia Hassenfeld is one of the most important American Jewish communal leaders and philanthropists of the twentieth century. Born in Philadelphia, the only child of Sophie and Joseph Kay, Hassenfeld has been an international leader in business, philanthropy, Jewish communal service, and non-governmental organizations.

Reina Hartmann

Reina Kate Goldstein, the daughter of Simon and Kate (Mayer) Goldstein, was born in Chicago on February 2, 1880, and lived in the Chicago area her entire life. She became an integral member of the community by devoting her life to organizations that served Chicago’s women.

Nan Halperin

Nan Halperin was born in Odessa, Russia, in 1898 and moved to the United States in 1900. She was the daughter of Samuel Halperin, a confectioner, and Rebeka Rose Halperin. She had two brothers—Hal Halperin, manager of the Chicago office of Variety, and Max Halperin, a Chicago agent—and two sisters—Sophie Halperin, who sometimes accompanied Nan on her tours, and Clara Halperin.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Philanthropy." (Viewed on November 27, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/philanthropy>.

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