"Work of a Woman Rabbi" Article from the San Francisco Bulletin About Ray Frank, November 15, 1895
WORK OF A WOMAN RABBI
Ray Frank's Opinions on Large Subjects.
Believes In the Intellectual Woman at Home.
A Young Jewish Enthusiast Who Lectures on Art, Religion, and the Family.
"The home before everything," says Miss Ray Frank, the remarkable young woman who is journalist, author, priest, lecturer, and orator, and who has been many other things that have taken her far from the domestic hearth; and yet the contradiction between herself and her theory is only seeming, and vanishes with a few words of explanation. Miss Frank's aims and hopes are high, her studies wide as life itself, and it would be astonishing if she did not find the world large enough to hold the unmarried professional women as well as the wife and mother. First and foremost, she believes in the intellectual, the educated woman.
"In no walk of life," she said, "can a woman or man either be too highly educated in the true sense. A mother whose life work is the training of young minds and hearts to be worthy citizens of society and the State, cannot bring too much science, too much mental equipment to her work.
"Women used to be one-sided in being only domestic. The fault is the other way now. They are still one-sided; they are beginning to forget how all-important the home and the family are. They must be brought back and taught to see the every innovation, every change is not progress. They must take their intellectual life first into their homes, afterward into the streets.
"My work is directed chiefly to the Jewish woman, who, though all the ages, has been the great home-builder, the foundation of the family. Will she now, at this late day, when her intellectual development is more then [sic] ever on an equal with that of men, forsake her old duties, her old high calling, which she has fulfilled so long and so nobly?"
Miss Frank speaks with a depth of earnestness that is almost apostolic. Her words flow with a dull red, constant heat. Her searching, comprehensive mind never loses itself in verbiage, never becomes mere intelligence, dancing like knives in the sun-it is always animated by a rich human sympathy. Her dark brown Jewish eyes are now limpid and veiled with the abstract gaze of the mystic and dreamer, now shining brilliant and intense with the force of her purpose.
"When I am asked what I am trying to do in all this work of mine," she continued, "I say I wish to have the Jew understand himself as a Jew and to relate himself as a man to society in general, and I wish the world to understand the Jew as a man and to know that to-day to be a Jew is to adhere to the old faith, but means nothing from the national or racial standpoint. Above all things, I wish the Jew to understand himself and to be worthy of his great race."
"Then it may be said that your two great enthusiasms are the Jew as a man, and the woman in the higher sense?" the interviewer asked.
"Why, no, not exactly," Miss Frank looked mildly surprised at being so tabulated, "my great passion is for art, because art includes everything. Everybody's story is in his art. The art of any nation or people is indicative of its whole life and thought. I am fond of literature; I write because it is a form of art and expresses the deepest truths of my being. Art, life, human nature, people pre-eminently above everything, these are my chief study and interest."
"The Jew, of course, I am working for him, for am I not of the Jewish race, and am I not bound by all the deepest ties of blood, honor, and affection to be loyal to them and to do my little all to help them? Besides, have not the Jews given the greatest art of all to the world? The whole world is indebted to them for the art of living."
Miss Frank is far from the type of the nineteenth century California Jewess. With her narrow, dark, rapt face, and steady earnestness of mien, she is more like a biblical heroine, or one of the famous Jews who from time to time have burst forth from the obscurity that has been forced on their race, and have shone before the world, deindividualized, as the pure type or spirit of their race. Her temperament is the Jewish temperament of the centuries. It is only by chance that the latter-day problems have become intermixed with the word she has to say.
"As for woman," she said in answer to the charge that the cause of woman was one of the enthusiasms, "I speak of her only as part of the whole. I have been interested in the women's congresses because I am a woman, and I believe in all forms of intellectual progress; but I am not a suffragist, because I do not believe that a woman can properly fulfill her home duties and be out in the world, too."
"But how about the unmarried professional women whom you cannot deny the right of being out in the world and making an independent career for themselves, if circumstances do not lead them to marry?"
"Yes, I believe in independent professional women, but I do not believe in a married woman carrying on a profession. She cannot do both. The women I have met who attempted both invariably failed in one, and it is apt to be the home that suffers. For the unmarried ones there might be a limited suffrage. I do not believe in universal suffrage for either men or women. The suffrage should be granted strictly according to the intelligence and capacity of the individual for government.
"One great thing against the woman suffrage movement is that it is carried on by women without any mental training. If college-bred women with some philosophical grasp of mind should take it up it might be a different thing. Many of these women are silly and volatile; at best, they know their side of the story and nothing more. They are not willing, have not the capacity, to look fairly at the other side of the question. They have no power of organization among themselves. Although I believe that women are intellectually capable of doing almost anything, what about their characters? Will they look the question in the face and acknowledge their own weaknesses?
"The great fault in most education is that it is too objective; it does not tend to develop character. I would have the child taught physiology as he is taught reading, as one of the fundamentals and essentials. Later on should come psychology, and the pupil should be taught the meaning of 'know thyself.'
"For so young a woman, Miss Frank has already had quite a remarkable career. At 16, she was a teacher in one of the cold wildernesses of Nevada. She was at one time editor of a monthly publication here. She has done almost every..."
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Jewish Women's Archive. ""Work of a Woman Rabbi" Article from the San Francisco Bulletin About Ray Frank, November 15, 1895." (Viewed on November 17, 2019) <https://jwa.org/media/article-about-ray-frank>.