Women of Valor

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Later Years

Ray Frank, 1861 - 1948

In the years after the Litmans returned to the United States, Ray was often conscious of the difference between her past acclaim and her present anonymity, and despite her convictions, she missed the respect and praise that had been heaped upon her. The contrast made her uncomfortable in California, and when Simon was offered a job at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1908, the Litmans were ready to move.

Away from California, Ray regained her vitality. Although she gave occasional lectures at venues around the Midwest, her life became focused on her local community. True to her longstanding commitments, her main focus remained fostering people's active involvement with Judaism. She was particularly eager to work with Jewish students, inviting them into her home and leading a student study circle on post-biblical Jewish history. She and Simon regularly attended meetings and functions of the small Jewish student groups that existed on campus and were active in the formation of the Hillel movement, which originated at the University of Illinois. Ray also helped to organize the Sinai Temple Sisterhood and served as its president for 15 years. Today, the library at Sinai Temple is dedicated to the Litmans, testimony to the mark they left on their Jewish community

Ray devoted much energy to the general Champaign-Urbana and University communities as well. Despite her earlier opposition to women's suffrage, she helped to form the Champaign County League of Women Voters, perhaps deciding that with the vote now a fait accompli, she wished women to be as well-informed as possible about their political choices. She also jumped into life as a faculty wife, hosting events for the Economics Department and assisting Simon in his work.

Notes: 
  1. Simon Litman,Ray Frank Litman: A Memoir (New York: American Jewish Historical Society, 1957).
  2. For more information about the founding of Hillel at the University of Illinois and the role of the Litmans, see Winton U. Solberg, "The Early Years of the Jewish Presence at the University of Illinois," Religion and American Culture, 2, no. 2 (1992): 215-245.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Ray Frank - Later Years." (Viewed on April 23, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/frank/later-years>.