Jewish Women's Congress
Hannah Greenebaum Solomon, 1858 - 1942
"And if this week we have been spelling 'Jewish Woman' with a capital 'J' and a capital 'W,' it is not vaingloriously nor in a spirit of boasting that we have been rummaging the pages of history for the illustrious daughters of Judah.... In them we have been trying to discover ideals for ourselves, our daughters and granddaughters."
Solomon's years of planning and hard work brought an overflowing crowd of women to the Congress. They "elbowed, trod on each others' toes, and did everything else they could without violating the proprieties," to find standing room in the hall. For four days, speakers like Ray Frank and educator Julia Richman of New York addressed a series of subjects centered on religion, Jewish history and philanthropy.
On the final day, growing enthusiasm culminated in a vote to form the National Council of Jewish Women. A committee quickly drew up a statement of resolutions to define the new organization's goals. Council would work to fulfill its obligations to Judaism through education, fighting anti-Semitism and assimilation, and social reform.
Hannah Solomon was then elected president by acclamation as the entire hall rose, applauding. Despite this unanimous show of approval, when close friend Jane Addams asked Solomon's young daughter, "Helen, wouldn't you like to do what your mother has done?" Helen responded, "Oh no...when I grow up I'm going to be a lady, like my Aunt Rose!"
- "And if this week we have spelling..." quote in Sheaf 52.
- "elbowed, trod on each others toes..." quoted in Rogow 19. See American Israelite (7 Sept. 1893): 6.
- On speakers at the Congress, see Fabric 82.
- For information on the general narrative of events, see Rogow 21-24 as well as Papers of the Jewish Women's Congress.
- "Helen, wouldn't you like to do..." quote from Fabric 85-6.