Philanthropy and Volunteerism: Volunteers
A Brazilian-born daughter of immigrants, Frida Alexandr was the only woman writer to describe Jewish cowboys in Brazil from the viewpoint of one who lived among them. Her only published book was the novel Filipson, which chronicled the lives and episodes of the farm where she was born in 1906 and spent two decades of her life.
Lizzie Spiegel Barbe represents the “Jewish Clubwomen” of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century. Like other “Jewish clubwomen” of this era, Barbe was motivated to establish leadership roles for women within the organized Jewish community such as had previously not existed. All of Barbe’s communal work focused on the Jewish sphere, and she is remembered for her lifelong commitment to the Chicago Jewish community.
Psychologist Dorothy Walter Baruch championed the health development of children as an educator, author, psychologist, and as a community leader. Her psychodynamic approach to child development focused on the relationship between physical, emotional, and intellectual development and on rechanneling children’s feelings through play and art therapy.
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.
Beatrice Berler was an award-winning translator of Spanish-language novels and history and a renowned community activist. She worked in women’s fashion for over twenty years before returning to school at the age of forty-five, eventually becoming nationally recognized as a literacy activist.
From 1936 through 1938, while Clementine Bloch was articled to lawyers, she realized that she was interested in criminal law and after passing the bar examination in 1938, she indeed gained a reputation in criminal cases. From 1948 to 1975 she was as a UN librarian at the New York Public Library and in this capacity served as a liaison between the Library and the UN.
In the world of theater, Aline Bernstein is remembered as one of the most important designers of the first half of the twentieth century.
Rebecca Thurman Bernstein was lauded by local and national organizations for her efforts to improve health care, literacy, and Jewish life in Portland, Maine. Bernstein was proud of her Jewish heritage and worked for many Jewish causes, but her interests were not limited to or by her Jewishness.
Meta Pollak Bettman was an untiring volunteer in Jewish and civic causes.
Henrietta Gittelson Blaustein was an American philanthropist. When her husband died in 1937, she became the chairperson of the Louis and Henrietta Blaustein Foundation. In 1951, the foundation awarded $1,000,000 to the Sinai Hospital and the Jewish Medical Center in Baltimore – the largest individual contribution ever made to a Jewish organization at that time.
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.
As president of the National Council of Jewish Women, Rose Brenner focused on inclusion of people who were often marginalized—the deaf, the blind, and those isolated in rural areas.
A riveting public speaker, masterful politician, skilled organizer, and administrator, Brin, who served two terms as president of the National Council Of Jewish Women (NCJW), 1932 to 1938, is best remembered for her work on behalf of world peace during the interwar years.
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.
Saidye Rosner Bronfman was a first-generation Canadian who used her wealth to benefit numerous Canadian Jewish organizations and philanthropies. Beginning in 1929, she served as the president of Montreal’s Young Women’s Hebrew Association for six years. In 1943 she was recognized by the British Empire for her philanthropic contributions to the war effort.
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.
The positive aspect of the Canadian mosaic has been a strong Jewish community (and other communities) which nurtured traditional ethnic and religious values and benefited from the talent and energy of women and men restrained from participation in the broader society. The negative aspect has included considerable antisemitism and, especially for women, the sometimes stifling narrowness and conservatism of the community which inhibited creative and exceptional people from charting their own individual paths.
A savvy, tough, and elegant woman known by presidents, dictators, and almost everyone else simply as Shoshana, she has become perhaps the most widely respected and successful lay leader in the Jewish community of the 1980s and 1990s.
In the late 1960s Judy and her husband were swept up in the Soviet Jewry campaign but soon refocused on the plight of Jews in Syria. Convinced that the approximately six thousand Jews of Syria needed strong western advocates, the couple organized a Syrian Jewish support committee.
Despite widespread awareness of significant contributions to the movement by Jewish women, the documentary record and public perception reflect the roles and experiences of men. Scholarship in American Jewish history, civil rights history, and women’s studies does not directly address the contributions of Jewish women. Nor does it ask what Jewish cultural influences primed young Jewish women to respond (in numbers disproportionate to their representation in the population) when the civil rights movement put out the call.
Like their gentile neighbors, North and South, Jewish women figured in the history of the Civil War (1861–1865) in two ways. As the wives, mothers, and daughters of men in military service, they shouldered a range of responsibilities brought on by wartime exigencies. As community activists, they involved themselves in home-front activities to minister to the soldiers directly and to raise money for the troops.
Helen Miller Dalsheimer was a distinguished leader in the Jewish community, both nationally and in her native Baltimore. She had a distinguished career as a volunteer whose contributions helped bring women, both volunteers and professionals, into positions of leadership previously occupied only by men.
Frances Allen de Ford chose the nontraditional route for women of medical school and medical practice to continue her paternal family’s tradition of philanthropy. As a physician, de Ford pioneered hygiene measures in the Kensington section of northeast Philadelphia, a heavy industrial and malaria-ridden district.
Barbara Berman Dobkin is the pre-eminent Jewish feminist philanthropist of the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first century. Her vision, dedication, and philanthropic generosity have transformed the landscape of Jewish women’s organizations and funding in both North America and Israel.