The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Cecile Ruth Sands

d. March 16, 1992

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Cecile Ruth Sands until we are able to commission a full entry.

Cecile Ruth Sands served for six years as the only woman on the New York City Board of Education, where she took a stand against McCarthyism and advocated for school integration. Born Cecile Ruth Humbert, Sands was appointed to the board in 1955 and immediately became embroiled in controversy as the sole dissenter against a measure that would force school employees to inform on others or face dismissal. The measure passed 7–1, but was overturned after teachers who refused to name names appealed to the State Education Commissioner. Two years later, in 1957, she made a speech at Manhattan’s Central Synagogue arguing for better school integration in racially divided neighborhoods. She served on the Board of Education for six years. She also served for 60 years on the board of the Hebrew Education Society, which oversaw a settlement house, and was the society’s first female president. 

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Cecile Ruth Sands." (Viewed on February 4, 2023) <>.


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