Miriam Belsky Solotaroff
Miriam Belsky Solotaroff made headlines in 1937 when she “rocked the school board” of New York for insisting on maternity leave to care for an adopted baby, a privilege only granted to biological mothers at the time. Solotaroff graduated from Hunter College in 1927 and soon began teaching first grade and kindergarten at PS 37 in the Bronx. Ten years later, she and her husband adopted a baby through the Stephen Wise Adoption Agency (now Louise Wise Services), and she became the first adoptive mother to request maternity leave. The school board resisted until public opinion pressured them to change their policies and grant a year’s leave. Solotaroff continued her teaching career and also involved herself with the Jewish community as president of the Mount Vernon chapter of Hadassah and a board member of her local UJA Federation. Her adopted daughter, Esther-Ann Asch, began working for Louise Wise Services in 1960 and by age 38 was chair of their board, leading the organization that had facilitated her own adoption. In 1982, Asch became vice president of community and foundation relations at FEGS Health and Human Services.