Women of Valor

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Controversy

Hannah Greenebaum Solomon, 1858 - 1942

Despite Solomon's plea to "leave all religious questions to the quarrels of the Rabbis," divisive struggles between NCJW's Reform and Orthodox members developed around the Sunday Sabbath controversy.

Like her father, Solomon personally supported the radical Reform policy of moving the Sabbath to Sunday. She felt that conforming to American custom would encourage more widespread observance. To many Council women who were Orthodox, Conservative, and even some who were Reform, this idea was sacrilege, comparable to a conversion to Christianity. Concerned by Solomon's outspoken opinion, these women determined to force Council to explicitly affirm its support of the historical Sabbath.

Solomon spent much of the first Triennial convention deflecting attempts to raise the question, hoping to avoid the divisive issue. Finally one member moved to block Solomon's re-election, arguing that she could not vote for any woman who did not "consecrate the seventh day as Sabbath." Solomon's response became famous: "I do consecrate the Sabbath. I consecrate every day in the week." The triumphant Solomon was re-elected by acclaim once again.

When Hannah returned home, husband Henry had hung "a huge floral piece on which was written, 'I consecrate every day!'" But Henry's enthusiasm proved overly optimistic, and the troubles surrounding the Sunday Sabbath issue continued to plague Council. NCJW avoided the strife by avoiding religious issues. When Solomon resigned as President in 1905, citing health reasons and the need to rest, Council had shifted its emphasis to philanthropy.

Notes: 
  1. "leave all religious questions to the quarrels of the Rabbis..." quoted on Rogow 104.
  2. For narrative on events at the first Triennial in general, see Rogow 103-110; specifically, on Sunday Sabbath as sacrilege see Rogow 104.
  3. The challenge to Solomon and her response quoted on Rogow 106-7.
  4. "a huge floral piece on which was written..." quote from Fabric 107.
  5. On avoidance of religious issues as a factor in Council's shifting identity, see Rogow 111-2.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Hannah Greenebaum Solomon - Controversy." (Viewed on April 23, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/solomon/controversy>.