We "Will" Have A Congress
Hannah Greenebaum Solomon, 1858 - 1942
In 1890, Chicago was chosen as the World's Fair exhibition site. The city's inhabitants threw themselves into planning, determined to show the world that Chicago was no prairie town, but a first class metropolis. One year later, the Fair's Board of Lady Managers decided to organize events for women of every religious denomination. The well known, well connected Hannah Greenebaum Solomon was the obvious choice to head the Jewish women.
"Two questions were at first involved: one,—should we have a congress; two,—would it have permanence?...In a flash, my thoughts crystallized to a decision: we will have a congress out of which must grow a permanent organization!" But with no existing associations or lists of Jewish women and without the aid of telephones and modern travel, locating participants was difficult work. Solomon hand-wrote over ninety letters, and her planning committee exchanged "no less than two thousand" over the next two years.
Preparations were in full swing when the men organizing the Jewish Denominational Congress invited Solomon to join their effort. She agreed only if they would "accord us active participation," but as Solomon later joked, "The only part of the program they wished us to fill was the chairs."
- On the Chicago World's Fair, see Meites 175-7.
- "Two questions were at first involved..." quote from Fabric 82.
- On the arduous process of reaching speakers and delegates, see Hannah Greenebaum Solomon, "Introduction," Papers of the Jewish Womens Congress (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1894) 3.
- For Solomon's recounting of her meeting with the men planning the Jewish Denominational Congress, see Fabric 83.
- "The only part of the program..." quote from Sheaf 71.
- Caption to Letter to Essayists: The quote, "dozens of Jewesses disclaim affiliation..." is from "Introduction," Papers of the Jewish Womens Congress (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1894) 3.