Philanthropy and Volunteerism: Social Work
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 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.
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.
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.
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 was an articulate and opinionated Progressive reformer, a member of the Jewish elite with an uncompromising drive to improve her people.
Edith Jacobi Baerwald devoted her energy to philanthropic organizations, but she also loved connecting directly with the people she helped through her volunteer work at settlement houses. She considered volunteer work a social obligation and poured her time and tireless energy into numerous projects.
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 was an active community organizer, activist, and local politician. She and her husband, Norman, aided in helping people escape Nazi persecution and split their time between Palestine and England for many years.
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 was a civic leader and philanthropist who was a staunch and tireless supporter of children in need.
Madeline Borg dedicated her career to giving children second chances—through studying juvenile delinquency, working with child welfare and probation associations, and by founding the Big Sister movement. She was active in philanthropic work for over fifty years.
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.
Brazil is home to the second largest Jewish community in South America. Jewish women played important roles in the absorption of Jewish immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, and also made important contributions to Brazilian intellectual and artistic life.
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 (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.
As a lawyer and activist, Emilie M. Bullowa devoted her life to justice for the disenfranchised. 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.
As a lawyer, Helen Lehman Buttenwieser fought to protect children in the foster care system. Throughout her life in the law she served as an important role model for many women attorneys.
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.
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.
The Clara de Hirsch Home for Working Girls was established in May 1897 to provide housing, occupational training, and community to mostly poor and immigrant young women in New York City.
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.