It is said that, by nature, women are social creatures. This social, when organized, can be an incredible life-force. This idea became reality when Hannah Greenbaum Solomon (1858-1942) created the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW).
Daughter of successful German Jewish immigrants, Hannah first became aware of the power of organized women when she and her sister Henriette became the first Jewish women elected to the elite Chicago Women’s Club in 1876. From observing her parents’ active participation in Chicago’s Jewish community social service programs, Hannah was well aware of the great value that Judaism placed on helping others.
In 1890, Hannah (who had already served as the president of the Chicago Women’s Club), was asked to organize a Jewish Women’s Congress for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition Parliament of Religions. The Congress was so successful that it voted itself into a permanent organization, the NCJW, and Hannah was elected its first president.
Today the NCJW defines itself as “a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives to achieve social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.”
A mother of three, and devoted wife to her husband Henry, Hannah always placed her family’s concerns first while organizing and running the NCJW. Hannah also embraced many other social welfare projects, and was particularly involved in projects for the betterment of women, specifically the Illinois Industrial School for Girls. She was also involved in the Chicago Juvenile Court and the Chicago Civic Federation.
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