A Powerful Legacy
Hannah Greenebaum Solomon, 1858 - 1942
"We must add our voices to those who cry out that there is a standard below which we will not allow human beings to live, and that that standard is not at the freezing nor starving point....In a democracy all are responsible."
Solomon saw commitment to social welfare as her responsibility—as a Jew, an American, and a woman. She believed no life was complete which had not taken light "from the bright places in its own and transmitted [it] into homes of sorrow and gloom, dividing the fullness of earth with those whose portions are nothingness."
In her later years, as well as after her death, she was celebrated again and again for her trailblazing work. The National Council of Jewish Women still evokes Solomon's words as an inspiration to "[improve] the quality of life for women, children, and families … by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms."
Solomon spoke boldly and with conviction in an era when Jewish women's voices were rarely heard. At the same time, she advocated a return to the traditions of Jewish motherhood. Ironically, Solomon helped perfect the tools later generations would use to challenge these and other traditions. Her example of powerful speech and organization paved the way for new, more radical possibilities.
- "We must add our voices to those..." quote from Sheaf 189.
- "No life is complete..." quote from Fabric 159.
- The NCJW Mission statement has evolved over time. The current, slightly evolved "Mission Statement" is available online.