Philanthropy and Volunteerism: Social Work

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Helen Goldmark Adler

Helen Adler helped her husband establish the first model tenements at Cherry Street as well as the first free kindergarten in America, called the Working Man’s School, and later the Ethical Culture School at Fieldston. She took an active part in the visiting nurses’ service for the poor at the DeMilt Dispensary, the oldest clinic in the city, which Felix had initiated in 1877. With the assistance of a Dr. Koplik, she helped cut the infant death rate by having milk bottled safely at the Laboratory Department for Modified Milk for Tenement Babies, which Koplik and Adler founded in 1891.

Anna Marks Allen

Anna Marks Allen was part of a group of Philadelphia Jewish women who established and ran the first independent Jewish charitable societies in the United States. At a time when congregational Jewish life was restricted to men, Jewish women of Allen’s social status increasingly turned towards philanthropy as a way to participate in the public life of the Jewish community.

The Women’s Mizrachi Federation in America, Detroit Meeting, circa 1960s

AMIT

Established in 1925 to create vocational schools for religious girls in Palestine, AMIT, an American-based religious Zionist organization, has helped shape the educational and social welfare landscape in the State of Israel for eight decades.

Argentina: Philanthropic Organizations

The networks of Jewish philanthropic groups, both in the capital and in the interior provinces, supported a wide range of charitable institutions to help keep families together.

Jeannette Arons

Jeannette Arons served in a variety of roles with the National Council of Jewish Women, including president of the Brooklyn section. Her activism within NCJW ranged from helping juvenile offenders rebuild their lives, to advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, to helping Jewish immigrants become citizens.
The "Ellis Island Missionaries"

Assimilation in the United States: Nineteenth Century

Scholars have conventionally considered the nineteenth century the German era in the American Jewish history. Between 1820 and 1880, more than two hundred thousand immigrants from German lands arrived in the United States. Besides German Jews, this transatlantic movement also included migrants from ethnically Czech, Hungarian, Polish, and Baltic territories that at that time remained under German political control or cultural influence.

Associazione Donne Ebree D'Italia (ADEI)

The Association of Italian Jewish Women, or ADEI, was founded in 1927 in the city of Milan, Italy, home to the second largest Jewish community in the country.

Sophie Cahn Axman

Sophie Cahn Axman was an articulate and opinionated Progressive reformer, a member of the Jewish elite with an uncompromising drive to improve her people.

Edith Jacobi Baerwald

Although Baerwald was born into a privileged, upper-class family, her wealth did not isolate her with respect to social class. She was deeply interested in the social structure of New York City, and recognized her ability to contribute to the lives of others less fortunate than herself. She considered volunteer work a social obligation, and poured her time and tireless energy into numerous projects.

Clarice Baright

Clarice Baright

Known to her contemporaries as the “Lady Angel of the Tenement District,” Clarice Baright was a social worker and a trailblazing attorney who combined these skills as an advocate for the rights of New York City’s children and its poor. In a career spanning the first half of the twentieth century, Baright fought for reforms in the style and spirit of the Progressive Era, while earning the distinctions of serving as the second female magistrate in New York City history and of being among the first few women admitted to the American Bar Association.

Helen Bentwich

Helen Caroline Bentwich (née Franklin) was born on January 6, 1892 in Notting Hill, London into a family of almost aristocratic Jewish lineage.

Margarete Berent

Margarete Berent was the first female lawyer to practice in Prussia and the second female lawyer ever licensed in Germany. In 1925 she opened her own law firm in Berlin. Not only was she the first female lawyer and the head of her own law firm, but she was also an ardent feminist and active in promoting opportunities for women.

Dorothy Lehman Bernhard

Dorothy Lehman Bernhard was a civic leader and philanthropist who was a staunch and tireless supporter of children in need.

Madeline Borg

Madeline Borg was active in philanthropic work for over fifty years.

Anna Pavitt Boudin

A dentist by career, Anna Pavitt Boudin is remembered for her prominent role in the American’s Women ORT. While maintaining her own private dental practice, Boudin became the founding president of Women’s American ORT, an organization that grew to be one of the largest Jewish women’s organizations in the United States.

Yara Bernette (Bernette Epstein)

Brazil, Contemporary

The Brazilian Jewish community is the second largest Jewish community in South America and one of the ten largest in the world.

Britain: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

From 1656, when Jews were allowed to resettle in Great Britain, forming a small community in London until the present, the Anglo-Jewish community has benefited from the relative tolerance toward minorities that the British have displayed, as well as from general economic and political developments. To be sure, Parliament did not fully emancipate Jews until 1858 and social discrimination persisted into the twentieth century. Great Britain did, however, offer haven to successive waves of immigrants, and Jews have prospered on its shores, becoming British and participating in the larger culture of the urban middle classes. The status of Jewish women was affected both by larger social mores and by the nature of the Anglo-Jewish community.

Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown

Sandra (Sandy) Brown, an outstanding leader of the Toronto Jewish community at the turn of the twenty-first century, is one of the many Canadians—especially Jews—who in the post-World War II era left smaller communities across the country for Toronto.

Emilie M. Bullowa

Bullowa earned a reputation for being a great trial lawyer. Lawyers and others admired her ability to convince judges and juries of her cases. In 1919, she established a new point in the law of libel. Her colleagues, as well as many judges, respected her attitude as a woman in a field then dominated by men: She took pride in being a lawyer, rather than in being a female lawyer.

Helen Lehman Buttenwieser and her Sons

Helen Lehman Buttenwieser

A distinguished attorney who specialized in adoption and foster care issues and represented child welfare agencies and the children under their care, Helen Lehman Buttenwieser was born on October 8, 1905, and grew up in a Jewish family prominent in New York banking and philanthropic circles.

Cedar Knolls School for Girls

Alarmed by reports of the growing numbers of young females arraigned in New York City’s children’s courts, the concerned women advocated the establishment of a Jewish girls’ correctional facility comparable to the existing Hawthorne School. Working independently, though in consultation with the Hawthorne School directors, the women founders raised the necessary funds and established the Cedar Knolls School for Girls (CK) in 1913.

Timeline Showing the Major Organizations of Jews in Germany, 1893-1943

Central Organizations of Jews in Germany (1933-1943)

The Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden (Reich Representation of German Jews) was established in September, 1933. Its headquarters were in Berlin-Charlottenburg, on the Kantstrasse. For German Jewry, this was an umbrella organization comprising all the political and religious groups of Jews living in Germany. Its main task was the coordination of Jewish self-help activities during the long and harsh persecutions of the Nazi era. Jewish self-help activities were widespread, innovative and charitable.

Interior of the Clara de Hirsch Home for Working Girls

Clara De Hirsch Home for Working Girls

Concerned about the welfare of young working girls in New York City at the turn of the twentieth century, a group of Jewish leaders, mostly women, founded the Clara de Hirsch Home for Working Girls in May 1897.

National Council of Jewish Women, 1910

Club Movement in the United States

Jewish clubwomen emerged in America between 1880 and 1920 as part of a comprehensive social transition. Jews—women as well as men—evolved from a series of scattered ethnic enclaves primarily of German origin into a more cohesive and politically active portion of a decidedly American middle class.

Delegates from Havana Hillel at the Southeastern Hillel Conference, 1948

Cuba

The history of Jewish women in Colonial Cuba is still wrapped in mystery. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia (1903): “Jewish women, forcibly baptized, and sent to the West Indies by the Spanish authorities, seem to have been among the early settlers [of Cuba].” The term “Jewish women” in this context needs explanation: In 1492, King Ferdinand (1452–1516) and Queen Isabella (1451–1504) of Spain signed the infamous edict that ordered the expulsion of all professed Jews from their kingdoms.

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