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Esther Jane Ruskay

At a time when the Jewish community was focused on the benefits of assimilation and the possibilities of ethical culture, Esther Jane Ruskay argued passionately for a return to traditional religious practice and study. Ruskay was a noted public speaker, the first woman to give a talk from the pulpit of Temple Emanu-El, the noted New York Reform synagogue. In 1893, she was asked to speak on “The Revival of Judaism” at the founding meeting of the New York section of the National Council of Jewish Women. She began by chiding the audience for implying by that topic that Judaism was dead, criticizing the ethical culture movement as a watered-down version of Jewish values, and arguing that Jewish children should study Hebrew with the same seriousness that they gave their classical training in Latin and Greek. She wrote articles on Jewish life which were published in a number of newspapers and which the Jewish Publication Society later collected as Home and Hearth Essays, published in 1902.

Date of Birth
Place of Birth
New York, New York
Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Esther Jane Ruskay." (Viewed on February 15, 2019) <>.


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