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Rebecca Gratz

Through the schools and orphanages she created, Rebecca Gratz established a new model of religious education and made it possible for a new generation to identify as both fully Jewish and fully American. She helped found several philanthropic organizations, including the Philadelphia Orphan Society, a non-sectarian group that sheltered and educated orphans. Over time, however, the evangelical efforts of many Christians involved in charity work convinced Gratz that Jewish children needed a religious education to maintain their cultural identity. She created lesson plans and materials, taught classes, and raised funds for schools that would teach both boys and girls, in English, about Jewish religion, history, and culture. Her model for Jewish education quickly spread to other cities, becoming the standard for the modern Hebrew school.

Rebecca Gratz Portrait by Thomas Sully
Full image
Portrait of Rebecca Gratz, painted by Thomas Sully.
Courtesy of American Jewish Archives
Date of Birth
March 4, 1781
Place of Birth
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Date of Death
August 27, 1869

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rebecca Gratz." (Viewed on January 23, 2018) <>.


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