Gertrude Weil - A Southern Jewish Childhood - The Weil Women

The Weil women were widely involved in their community's philanthropic, religious, cultural and political life. Sarah Weil, Solomon's wife, founded the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society, Goldsboro's first women's organization (later renamed the Ladies Benevolent Society). Mina chaired the Society's Relief Committee; when the city took over responsibility for this social service, she served on the board of directors of the Goldsboro Bureau of Social Service. A member of four organizations for helping the blind, Mina also contributed to several tuberculosis institutions and, in her daughter's words, to "goodness knows how many orphanages." She also organized the Goldsboro Woman's Club in 1899, chaired the Red Cross Civilian Relief Committee during World War I, and pushed for North Carolina to enact child labor legislation.

In 1941, Gertrude Weil delivered a moving eulogy for her mother:

From my earliest childhood I have seen poor people at my mother's door…. She heard their situations, discussed their problems, recommended adjustments, and finally gave them material help. Long after [the Ladies' Benevolent Society] became scientifically organized...the poor and distressed still came to our door…. [S]he was understanding and sympathetic in listening and dispensed help with practical judgment and her feet on the ground.

Mina and Sarah, together with Mina's mother Eva, were also mainstays of Congregation Oheb Sholom, and having benefitted from their own solid educations, they were involved in the creation of the Goldsboro public school. After her husband's death, Mina was appointed to his place on the board of trustees of the Goldsboro Graded Schools. Sarah also founded the North Carolina Association of Jewish Women, the first statewide Jewish women's group in the United States, and helped to establish the Goldsboro Emergency Hospital and the Goldsboro Public Library. With such women as role models, it is no wonder Gertrude grew to take her responsibilities to the community so seriously.

  1. Quotations from [Gertrude Weil], Eulogy for Mina Weil, September 14, 1941, in the Gertrude Weil Papers, North Carolina Division of Archives and History.
  2. Additional information from Sarah Wilkerson-Freeman, "The Emerging Political Consciousness of Gertrude Weil: Education and Women's Clubs, 1897–1914," MA thesis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1986, 6; Moses Rountree, Strangers in the Land: The Story of Jacob Weil's Tribe (Philadelphia: Dorrance & Company, 1969), 115–117.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Gertrude Weil - A Southern Jewish Childhood - The Weil Women." (Viewed on October 6, 2022) <>.


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