Volunteers

Content type
Collection

Shulamith Nardi

An accomplished English editor and Hebrew-English translator, Shulamith Nardi made a substantial contribution in all the many fields of her interest; her achievements were extensive and varied.

Marion Simon Misch

Marion Misch participated in a great number of volunteer activities through her lifetime, all the while running a successful business following the death of her husband. Her primary interests centered on education and Judaism, and her volunteerism reflected her concern for these issues.

Hephzibah Menuhin

Hephzibah Menuhin, pianist and social activist, was born in San Francisco, on May 20, 1920, the second of three children. Her parents, Moshe and Marutha (Sher) Menuhin, were Russian Jews who came to the United States by way of Palestine. Neither Moshe nor Marutha was a trained musician, but all of their children—Yehudi, Hephzibah, and Yaltah—showed extraordinary musical gifts.

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).

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.

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.

Sadie Loewith

“Politics makes strange bedfellows,” the adage states. Those “bedfellows” were joined by a feisty, strong, opinionated woman in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in the 1920s. She was Sadie Loewith, teacher, businesswoman, active Republican Party worker, chairperson, organizer, and politician of high repute. Her interests were many and varied, and her ability to lead and to elicit respect was unwavering.

Frieda Lorber

Frieda Levin Lorber was born in New York City on May 7, 1899, to Sigmund Levin, a real estate developer, and Clara (Bergman) Levin. In her early years, Frieda was extremely interested in classical music. She studied voice at the Institute of Music and Art and sang with the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera. On December 7, 1924, she married Albert Lorber. The Lorbers, who divorced in the early 1940s, had one child, Mortimer, who became a doctor.

Linda Lingle

Throughout United States history, only two Jewish women have ever been elected governors. The first, Madeleine Kunin, became Vermont’s governor in 1985. In late 2002 the second, Linda Lingle, was sworn into office in Hawaii—a state with a Jewish population of less than one percent. (The United States currently has one other Jewish governor, Ed Rendell, of Pennsylvania.)

Irma Levy Lindheim

Irma Levy Lindheim was a colorful American Zionist millionaire, fund-raiser, and educator. Born in New York City on December 9, 1886, into a German Jewish assimilated family with roots dating back several generations in the American South, Lindheim discovered Zionism at age twenty-one. In 1926, she succeeded Henrietta Szold as president of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. Then, in 1933, as a forty-seven-year-old widow and mother of five, Lindheim joined A voluntary collective community, mainly agricultural, in which there is no private wealth and which is responsible for all the needs of its members and their families.Kibbutz Mishmar ha-Emek in Israel, where she remained, aside from frequent stays in the United States and elsewhere for Zionist and political activity. To create greater interest in Judaism and Zionism, she designed family-based educational programs, a project on which she worked until her death.

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.

Adele Rosenwald Levy

Adele Rosenwald Levy used her affluence to promote public-spirited philanthropy and Jewish causes. Active in thirty-five charitable, artistic, and community organizations, Levy never failed her father’s principle that those of good fortune should assume “the obligations that come with wealth.”

Adele Lewisohn Lehman

Adele Lehman, a New York City philanthropist, was not only a substantial donor and fund-raiser for a number of organizations and causes, but was also an administrator and served as an officer or board member for many agencies. Although Lehman is primarily recognized as honorary chairperson for the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, most of her volunteer work centered around secular organizations. She was a board member of the New York Service for the Orthopedically Handicapped and founder and board member of the Arthur Lehman Counseling Service.

Sara Landau

Sara Landau was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 4, 1890, to Morris (Fred) and Frieda (Shapiro) Landau, who had married in Poland before coming to America in the early 1880s. Sara was the first surviving child of the Landaus, who later had two other daughters, Minnie and Mathilda. She spent part of her early life in Louisiana, graduating from high school in Crowley in 1906, attending Southwest Industrial Institute in Lafayette, and teaching business courses for several years. Around 1914, she and her family moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where her father operated a boys’ clothing factory until the Depression of the 1930s.

Ilona Kronstein

Ilona (Ili) was born in Budapest, the eldest of three daughters of Sigmund (Zsiga) Neumann and Emma, née Deutsch. Though she had shown an artistic talent from childhood on, her early work was ridiculed and discouraged by her father.

Rebekah Bettelheim Kohut

Rebekah Bettelheim Kohut made her mark on the American Jewish community in the areas of education, social welfare, and the organization of Jewish women. Grounded in her Jewish identity as the daughter and wife of rabbis, Kohut had a public career that paralleled the beginnings of Jewish women’s activism in the United States.

Esther Loeb Kohn

“The great need today is for social inventions for the prevention of destitution and illness.” This statement, made in 1938, illustrates two of the primary interests of Esther Loeb Kohn’s life—social reform and medical social work. A thirty-year resident of Hull House, the famous Chicago social settlement founded by Jane Addams, Kohn was also an active volunteer and financial supporter of Jewish charitable organizations in Chicago.

Carol Weiss King

Carol Weiss King was one of the outstanding practitioners of immigration law during the period bounded by the Palmer Raids and the McCarthy era. In her thirty-year career, she represented hundreds of foreign-born radicals threatened with deportation in administrative proceedings in the lower courts and in the Supreme Court.

Juedischer Frauenbund (The League of Jewish Women)

The League of Jewish Women (Jüdischer Frauenbund, or JFB) founded in 1904 by Bertha Pappenheim, attracted a large following. Absorbing some traditional Jewish women’s charities and building on programs that Jewish women’s groups had pioneered, the JFB offered a feminist analysis and approach to social welfare.

Geri M. Joseph

Geri M. Joseph, a pioneer in the acceptance of women in journalism and politics, was a prize-winning newspaper reporter in an era when women were typically assigned to the society pages. She was U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands during the Carter administration, and she was the first woman to be elected to several business boards in Minnesota.

Jewish Museums in the United States

Jewish women play prominent roles as founders, directors, curators, artists, and patrons of Jewish museums in the United States. While women have rarely played an exclusive role in the creation of either small community or larger museums, their work as creators and developers of these repositories is critical.

Florence Heller

Florence Grunsfeld Heller, who became a social worker, volunteer leader in Chicago, and benefactor of Brandeis University, was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on March 2, 1897, the daughter of Ivan and Hannah (Nusbaum) Grunsfeld and the granddaughter of Albert and Heldegarde (David) Grunsfeld. Her parents and grandparents were German immigrants who came to the United States in 1873, settling in the territory of New Mexico. Her father was a wholesale merchant. Her initial years of schooling in Albuquerque were followed by years at Bradford Academy in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Faulkner School for Girls in Chicago, Illinois. In Chicago, at age sixteen or seventeen, Florence Grunsfeld lived with her maternal uncle, Julius Rosenwald—the founder of Sears Roebuck and Company—and his wife. Florence Heller’s son Peter credits the Rosenwalds with instilling in her a strong devotion and sense of obligation to society.

Hadassah: Yishuv to the Present Day

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA) (hereafter: Hadassah) has a lengthy history of activity in the Jewish community in Palestine prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. "Old Yishuv" refers to the Jewish community prior to 1882; "New Yishuv" to that following 1882.Yishuv and Israel, going back to 1913, about a year after it was founded in New York, and continuing to this day, with the exception of a short period during World War I. This activity, outstanding in its scope, continuity, stability and diversity, encompasses efforts in the sphere of health and medical services, and in the welfare of children and youth through support of Youth Lit. "ascent." A "calling up" to the Torah during its reading in the synagogue.Aliyah, vocational education, vocational training and more.

Bracha Habas

Editor, writer and one of the first few women journalists in The Land of IsraelErez Israel, Bracha Habas was born in Alytus, a town in the district of Vilna (Lithuania) on January 20, 1900, to a wealthy and cultured family of merchants who were actively involved in communal life. (The family name is the acronym of Hakham Binyamin Sefardi or Hakham Beit Sefer [School].) Her grandfather, Rabbi Simha Zissel, the scion of a rabbinic family in Vilna (that of the Yesod, Yehudah ben Eliezer; Yesod is an acronym for Yehudah safra ve-Judge in Jewish law cases; member of a rabbinic court.dayyan, “Yehudah scribe and judge,” d. 1762), was the first member of the family to turn to trade, opening a large general store that became a center of life in the township. On the other hand, her father, Rabbi Israel, successfully combined business with study: ordained in the yeshivas of Volozhin and Slobodka, he turned to business as a leather merchant only after marriage; nevertheless he continued to teach and to lecture on Torah she-bi-khetav: Lit. "the written Torah." The Bible; the Pentateuch; Tanakh (the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographia)Torah-related subjects and, on joining the Lit. "love of Zion." Movement whose aim was national renaissance of Jews and their return to Erez Israel. Began in Russia in 1882 in response to the pogroms of the previous year. Led to the formation of Bilu, the first modern aliyah movement.Hibbat Zion (Lovers of Zion) movement, was extremely active in converting people to the Zionist ideal and the study of Hebrew. He established a branch of Safah Berurah (“Plain Language,” a society founded in Jerusalem in 1889) in his hometown, was among the founders of the Lit. "Eastern." Jew from Arab or Muslim country.Mizrahi movement in 1902 and, once in Erez Israel, edited a non-partisan religious Zionist journal, Ha-Yesod (1931). Habas’s mother, Nehama Devorah, daughter of Rabbi Nahman Schlesinger (a descendant of Rabbi Eliyahu, the Vilna Head of the Torah academies of Sura and Pumbedita in 6th to 11th c. Babylonia.Gaon, 1720–1797), was also highly educated. Her father taught her Bible and she was fluent in both spoken and written Hebrew (an exceptional phenomenon among women born in the 1870s).

Rose Gruening

Known during her lifetime as the “Angel of Grand Street,” Rose Gruening was head worker and founder of the Grand Street Settlement in New York City. Although Gruening never liked this title, it attests to her significance in the eyes of many people. Like Jane Addams, Lillian Wald, and other women settlement workers of the early twentieth century, Gruening helped to create a social “safety net” through voluntary civic activism, before the concept of public responsibility for poor and disadvantaged Americans was enacted by the U.S. Government. Once the Depression and the New Deal transformed the workings of social welfare in the United States, the social service concept as practiced by Gruening and her contemporaries changed dramatically. Before it did so, however, thousands of immigrant families from the Lower East Side of New York experienced Gruening’s settlement house activism in personal and profound ways.

Subscribe to Volunteers

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

Can We Talk?

listen now

Get JWA in your inbox