Janet Simons Harris shepherded the National Council of Jewish Women through one of the most divisive times in its history and led both national and international efforts for women’s rights. Harris married in 1896 and settled in Bradford, Pennsylvania, where she taught both public school and Sunday school. From 1913–1920 she served as president of NCJW, guiding the organization through a crucial debate over whether they should focus on Jewish women’s education or on social welfare. While some local sections broke away, the organization as a whole grew during her presidency and lent support to a variety of social causes. After stepping down as president, Harris chaired NCJW’s Foreign Relations Committee, calling an international meeting of Jewish women in Vienna in 1924. Through her work with the National Council of Women of the United States, she chaired the Quinquennial Committee and oversaw the 1925 convention in Washington, DC, attended by women from 52 countries. Harris also volunteered for civic causes, including the League of Women Voters, the International League of Peace and Freedom, the American Legion Auxiliary, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary. After her husband’s death in 1932, Harris retired to Florida, but continued to travel abroad.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Janet Harris." (Viewed on April 20, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/harris-janet>.