Sisterhood Blog

Who Was Hannah Solomon?

By Jane Eisner

  • Print
  • Share Share

The statue is more than a foot high, a representation of Hannah G. Solomon atop a sturdy base. The very kind members of the National Council of Jewish Women presented this to me earlier this week, in recognition that through great luck and timing, I’m the first woman to edit this newspaper.

So who was Hannah Solomon? Honestly, I had never heard of her before a brief biography was read at the luncheon. Intrigued, I did some research. Turns out that she was a pioneering leader who tried, as so many of us continue to try today, to balance devotion to family with a public life promoting the rights of women and children.

According to the Jewish Women’s Archives, Solomon not only was the founder of NCJW, but she was a full-fledged participant in the teeming days of reform in turn-of-the-century Chicago. She worked with Jane Addams and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, delving into issues of children’s education and juvenile delinquency.

But the challenges facing Jewish women were a particular cause. At the Chicago World’s Fair, she organized a four-day conference that led to the establishment of the NCJW, which promptly elected her its first president. The organization seesawed during its first few years between an emphasis on religion and on philanthropy. There even was a deep split between the Reform women who wanted to back a proposal to move Shabbat from Saturday to Sunday, and the Orthodox women who wanted no such thing. Pressed to take a stand, Solomon showed her diplomatic skills by saying: “I do consecrate the Sabbath. I consecrate every day of the week!”

For all her work in the public sphere, though, Solomon defined her family as her first priority. Nowadays, while the balancing act persists, there’s no doubt that women like myself, blessed with both a family and a career, know that we can place family as our first love with the expectation that many men will, too. That change didn’t happen overnight. We have, among others, my new friend Hannah Solomon to thank.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jewish Women's Archive, Hanna Solomon

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.