Ray Frank - Career of a Lady Preacher - Stockton

Frank soon developed a reputation for healing congregational breaches, as she had between the Reform and Orthodox Jews of Spokane Falls. In 1897, Dr. M.S. Jaffe, President of the Jewish congregation in Stockton, California, called on her to help resolve a similar conflict in his own community, which was so riven by friction that its functioning had ground to a halt. "To Miss Ray Frank has been delegated the important and worthy mission of reuniting the discontented factions of the Hebrew population of this city on the question of belief in reform Judaism," commented the Stockton Daily Record.

In Stockton, Frank gave an impassioned and well-attended lecture, appealing to the community not to let disagreements get in the way of its religious well-being. She also put in a plea for another of her preferred causes: as the Stockton Evening Mail reported, "Miss Frank...suggested that an innovation be made in the Jewish congregation of this city, inasmuch as admitting the women into the congregation, and giving them a voice in its affairs. In times past they had helped in synagogical work, she said; give them a chance."

After a few days, it appeared that Frank had been successful. Believing that peace would now reign in the Stockton community, she returned home to Oakland.

Soon, however, conflict flared anew when an article appeared in the newspaper claiming that Dr. Jaffe had invited Frank to become rabbi of the congregation. The community exploded into arguments again, this time over whether a woman could be a rabbi. Frank, taken aback, quickly telegraphed to Stockton that she was not and had never been a candidate for the job. Pleased with the freedom her position as an independent preacher offered, she said she had no desire to become a rabbi and occupy any pulpit permanently. Nevertheless, similar misunderstandings about her intentions would continue to arise throughout her career.

  1. First quote from "Miss Ray Frank," Stockton Daily Record, [March] 12, 1897.
  2. Second quote from "Miss Ray Frank's Address," The Evening Mail, March 22, 1897.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Ray Frank - Career of a Lady Preacher - Stockton." (Viewed on June 4, 2023) <https://jwa.org/womenofvalor/frank/career-of-lady-preacher/stockton>.


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