The Litman Library
Ray Frank, 1861 - 1948
The plaque dedicating Sinai Temple's library to the Litmans reads:
Simon and Ray Litman were an extraordinary couple in their scholarly attainments and in their devotion to Judaism, to which they dedicated their lives. These qualities had great impact upon the people whose lives they touched, both upon the Jewish University students to whom they devoted much of their energies, and to the Champaign-Urbana community, whose Jewish communal life they entered immediately upon their arrival.
They came here in 1908, when Simon Litman was among the earliest Jewish professors at the University of Illinois, where he taught economics.
Ray Litman was deeply interested in scholarship, especially in Jewish history and philosophy and in the study of the Bible. She was an able speaker, much in demand on the West Coast where she grew up. Her skill, erudition and enthusiasm aroused Jewish groups to organize themselves into congregations. As a woman in those years, she was precluded from studying from the Rabbinate; nevertheless she was invited to occupy the pulpit of a number of congregations.
Their close association with Jewish students prompted Simon Litman to help in the establishment, under the aegis of B'nai B'rith, of the local Hillel Foundation in 1923, the first one in the United States. Litman had been president of B'nai B'rith in 1911, and was again president during the crucial year of 1922.
Ray Litman's local leadership role led her to help organize the Sinai Temple Sisterhood in 1922. She became its first president, a position she held for 15 years.
The Sinai Temple Library, a repository of Jewish scholarship and religion, is a most appropriate memorial.
Two books by Simon Litman, entitled respectively, "Ray Frank Litman: A Memoir," and "Looking Back," are available in the Litman Library.