Social Work

Content type
Collection

Rebecca Machado Phillips

Rebecca Phillips’s life embodies the overlapping of the mundane and the exceptional: She not only was a mother, but also served as a pioneering leader in Jewish and secular American communal life.

Alice S. Petluck

Alice S. Petluck was one of the earliest women legal pioneers. An immigrant from Russia, she became one of the first women in the United States to attend law school and to practice in New York. She was a prominent New York social reformer, who, through her example, was able to open the door for generations of future female lawyers.

Helen Harris Perlman

Helen Harris Perlman, with almost seventy years as a social work practitioner, supervisor, teacher, consultant, and author to her credit, was a legend in her field.

Jessica Blanche Peixotto

Jessica Blanche Peixotto defied convention and her family to become a respected authority in the field of economics. Through her education, professorship, and departmental leadership at the University of California at Berkeley, she broke down barriers for women in education.

Erna Patak

Erna (Ernestine) Patak was a social worker and one of the Zionist veterans in Vienna in the early twentieth century.

Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Israel, 1948-2000

Women’s organizations have been at the forefront of the struggle for women’s equality in Israel. In the early years of Israel’s statehood, they played an active role in providing women with essential services such as child-care and vocational training. In later years they concentrated on the struggle for gender equality, employing educational and political strategies.

Blanche Cohen Nirenstein

A descendant of a family active in Jewish communal life, Blanche Cohen Nirenstein further developed her legacy of leadership in a wide range of social science activities.

Estelle Newman

Estelle Reiss Newman innovated new programs for aiding the blind, from providing retirement homes for the aged blind to helping younger disabled people navigate independent lives in their communities.

Modern Netherlands

Dutch Jews acquired full citizenship rights in 1796. Overnight the “Jewish Nation” as a legal corporation was transformed into a community of individual “Jewish Netherlanders.” In the nineteenth and twentieth century they had to secure a place for themselves in a society which sometimes welcomed them but which was nevertheless permeated with anti-Jewish sentiments and prejudices. Consequently, even fully integrated, “modern” Jews retained an ambivalent relationship with mainstream Dutch-Christian culture.

Anitta Müller-Cohen

Anitta Müller-Cohen was one of the most famous Jewish women in Vienna in the early twentieth century, earning her fame as a social worker, journalist, and politician.

Lina Morgenstern

Lina Morgenstern was a woman of action rather than of words; she rolled up her sleeves when necessary and set to work, coordinating, organizing, fighting for her ideals. She believed that social activity in the framework of the women’s movement would bring about her ideal of universal human love, the “brotherhood of mankind” and her hope of full integration of Jews into Germany’s civil society.

Judith Montefiore

Many people fail to distinguish the achievements of Lady Judith Montefiore from those of her husband Sir Moses Montefiore (1784–1885), who was probably one of the most important Jews of the nineteenth century. Nonetheless, the life of this “First Lady of Anglo Jewry” is of significance both to Anglo-Jewish history and to the history of Jewish women. While embodying all the Victorian virtues of high moral purpose, sense of duty, charity and public–mindedness, she was a fierce loyalist to her faith and her people, devoted to Jewish causes and the welfare of Jews the world over.

Eva Violet Mond Isaacs, Second Marchioness of Reading

Lady Eva Violet Mond Isaacs, née Melchett, Marchioness of Reading, was born into one remarkable family and married into another. She occupied a unique place in Anglo-Jewry; as Vice President of the World Jewish Congress and President of its British section she was an eloquent and vocal supporter of the Zionist cause and the young state of Israel.

Irma May

Irma May was a pioneer in American Jewish philanthropy. Her reports from Eastern Europe motivated social action, while her political and speaking skills moved both the New York and larger Jewish community.

Henriette May

Caring for the needs and problems of her fellow beings was an early experience in the life of Henriette May (née Lövinson), the oldest of numerous siblings. Although she herself remained childless, the upbringing of children and care for needy adults became her life’s mission.

Emma B. Mandl

The daughter of Jonas and Charlotte (Goldscheider) Adler, Emma Adler Mandl was born on December 16, 1842, in Pilsen, Bohemia. At the time of her death in 1928, she was survived by a brother, George. It is unknown whether she had any other siblings. She was educated in Pilsen and immigrated to the United States with her family at age fifteen. During the last sixty-nine years of her life, she lived in Chicago. She married Bernhard Mandl on November 26, 1865; they had two children, Sidney (b. 1868) and Etta (Mrs. Sol Klein) (b. 1870).

Minnie Dessau Louis

Minnie Dessau Louis was an essayist, journalist, and poet, but she is best known for her philanthropic work in the Jewish community, largely focusing on women and children. She devoted her life to teaching immigrant Jewish women multiple skills through the many and varied schools she ran and her involvement in the founding of the Hebrew Technical School for Girls and the National Council of Jewish Women.

Fannie Eller Lorber

Fannie Eller Lorber was Denver’s twentieth-century “friend of children.” The Colorado philanthropist worked on behalf of Jewish children suffering from the devastating effects of lung disease, believing that “the cause of a child is the cause of humanity.” Lorber epitomized the volunteer spirit of urban Jewish women in the American West, where established institutions for the poor and infirm were scarce. She founded the Denver Jewish Sheltering Home for the children of tuberculosis patients in 1907, and remained its president and chief fund-raiser for over fifty years. Later renamed the National Home for Jewish Children (NHJC), the institution merged with the National Jewish Hospital in 1978, and it remains a world-class medical and educational facility. Thousands of the NHJC’s “alumni” are the living legacy of Fannie Lorber and Jewish female philanthropy during the Progressive Era.

Sophie Irene Simon Loeb

“Not charity, but a chance for every child.” Sophie Irene Simon Loeb adopted this as the creed of her life work for orphaned children in the United States and throughout the world. During the Progressive Era, Loeb was one of many women to enter the political arena through reform work, calling for government involvement to mitigate the problems of poverty. Loeb brought her life experience and her personalized approach to work for the rights of women and children to quality of life.

Johanna Loeb

Johanna Loeb’s philanthropic work extended to both Jewish and secular charities, such as the Home for Crippled Children, the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society of Chicago, the Home for the Jewish Friendless, and Chicago’s first Jewish Community Center. Her career not only strengthened the safety net for the disadvantaged throughout Chicago, but also illuminated the limitations and the potential that women’s philanthropic groups had in Jewish American society’s previously male-dominated community organizations.

Alice Springer Fleisher Liveright

Social worker Alice Springer Fleisher Liveright devoted much of her life to working for equal rights for women and African Americans, and for social welfare for children and poor adults. Passionate in her quest for social justice, she served as president of the Juvenile Aid Society, president of the Philadelphia Conference of Social Work, and as the Pennsylvania State Secretary of Welfare.

Jennie Davidson Levitt

Jennie Davidson Levitt represented the “finest synthesis of Americanism and Judaism,” according to the leaders of the Minneapolis Jewish National Fund at a 1968 dinner in her honor. Deeply aware of her responsibilities as a financially secure Jewish woman, Levitt labored to improve social conditions for diverse groups in the United States and abroad. Her broad approach to social reform, and the particular issues that she addressed, paralleled the changing concerns of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), her most beloved organization for more than fifty years.

Edith Altschul Lehman

Although she preferred to be addressed as Mrs. Herbert H. Lehman, and often insisted that marriage was her career and family was the greatest interest in her life, Edith Altschul Lehman’s public persona reflected her commitment to social causes. Known to many only as the cultured wife of one of New York’s most popular governors and senators, she was in her own right a passionate social activist and philanthropist, although much of her philanthropy was not made public.

Phyllis Lambert

As founding director and chair of the board of trustees, Phyllis Lambert was largely responsible for creating the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal (CCA), said to be the world’s leading architectural museum and study center. A native Montrealer, Lambert was one of four children of Saidye (Rosner) Bronfman and Samuel Bronfman (1891–1971), the man chiefly responsible for creating Seagram’s, once the world’s largest liquor distiller and distributor. Their fabulous wealth combined with a strong commitment to the Jewish community to propel the Bronfmans to preeminence in the worlds of commerce and Jewish affairs. Lambert’s two brothers, Charles (b. 1931) and Edgar (b. 1929), followed their father in both areas of endeavor; her sister, Minda (de Guinsbourg) (1925–1985), took on a traditional woman’s role by marrying into a Jewish family that had entered the ranks of Europe’s aristocracy. Already as a young woman, however, Lambert was determined to strike out on her own path.

Gisela Peiper Konopka

Gisela Konopka’s outstanding career in youth and adolescent services, social work, education and history is reflected in her litany: “All my life I have been fighting for justice, and for respect for all people. I abhor any arrogance related to race, religion, nationality, appearance, sex, age, intelligence, profession, money. That arrogance is wrong. What is important is what a person is, and does, for the community.”

Subscribe to Social Work

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

Can We Talk?

listen now

Get JWA in your inbox