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Social Work

Hannah Greenebaum Solomon

Hannah Greenebaum Solomon founded and served as the first president of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW). Solomon brought both leadership and ideological vision to the NCJW, helping it become the premier Jewish women’s organization of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Sociology in the United States

Sociological theory suggests that Jews are likely to be good sociologists, because people positioned on the margins of society (i.e., social outsiders) tend to be astute social observers (Park 1950). Since Jews historically have been the quintessential outsiders, many great sociologists have, in fact, been Jews—particularly Jewish men (e.g., Lewis Coser, Emile Durkheim, Erving Goffman, Irving Louis Horowitz, Herbert Marcuse, Karl Marx, Karl Mannheim, Robert K. Merton, and Georg Simmel), although some did not acknowledge their Jewishness.

Settlement Houses in the United States

Jewish women have played significant roles as benefactors, organizers, administrators, and participants in American settlement houses. Settlement houses, founded in the 1880s in impoverished urban neighborhoods, provided recreation, education, and medical and social service programs, primarily for immigrants.

Alice Lillie Seligsberg

Alice Lillie Seligsberg, an American Zionist, social worker, civic leader and Hadassah president, gave of herself to the orphaned and needy of her people, and influenced thousands of Jewish girls and women for more than a generation.

Alice Salomon

Alice Salomon, educator, feminist, economist and international activist, was one of the founding mothers of professional social work and particularly social work education. She directed the first full-time course of social work in her native city, Berlin, initiated and chaired the national conference of schools of social work in Germany, and altogether was among those who developed one of the earliest continuing education programs.

Cecilia Razovsky

Cecilia Razovsky was a remarkably active woman who spent her life striving to assist immigrants in adapting to life in the United States and other countries.

Lydia Rapoport

Lydia Rapoport was a social worker, professor, caseworker, and advocate of social change.

Project Kesher

Project Kesher is a feminist Jewish organization empowering women in the Independent States of the former Soviet Union (FSU) to build a society in which inclusive Jewish life can flourish, and where women are the instruments of peaceful change.

Justine Wise Polier

Justine Wise Polier espoused an activist concept of the law and a rehabilitative rather than a punitive model of judicial process, she pioneered the establishment of mental health, educational, and other rehabilitative services for troubled children. She also took a leading role in opposing racial and religious discrimination in public and private facilities.

Philanthropy in the United States

Jewish law and custom, secular culture, and economic and social roles have shaped Jewish women’s involvement in philanthropic activities. Although the term is often associated with the beneficence of the wealthy, philanthropy refers to a broad range of activities—giving time as well as giving money—that are intended to enhance the quality of life in a community or a society.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Social Work." (Viewed on September 18, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/social-work>.

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