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Rose I. Bender

1895 – 1964

by Lily Schwartz

Rose I. Bender’s lifelong dedication to and support of a Jewish homeland began at an early age. She was taught the finest Talmudic traditions by her parents and was inspired by their love of Zion to become a guiding light for American Zionism and a Philadelphia Jewish community leader.

She was born in Philadelphia on December 22, 1895, one of four children of Joseph and Rachel Magil, originally from Lithuania. They were both Hebrew scholars and Zionists. She was descended from the Gaon of Vilna through her mother.

Rose graduated from Philadelphia High School for Girls and Gratz College of Jewish Studies. While still in high school, she organized the first Young Judaea Club in America and was its first president. Later she taught Hebrew and Sunday school classes. On June 24, 1917, she married a prominent lawyer, Oscar G. Bender, and had two daughters.

In 1927, Bender became a member of Hadassah and later national chair of fund-raising. She was a delegate to the 1939 World Zionist Congress. When she became executive director of the Zionist Organization of Philadelphia in 1945, she was the first woman in the United States to hold such a prestigious position.

Well before the present-day women’s liberation movement, Rose I. Bender, though lacking a college education, was able to transcend barriers and use her considerable abilities to fulfill herself and make significant contributions to Zionism and the Jewish community.

Rose I. Bender died on November 4, 1964.


AJYB 66:572; Bender, Rose I. Papers, 1929–1946. MSS. 20, Box 1, Folder 1, Balch Institute, Philadelphia, and MS 80–774, American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio; NYTimes, November 5, 1964, 45:5.

More on Rose I. Bender

How to cite this page

Schwartz, Lily. "Rose I. Bender." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on January 21, 2018) <>.


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