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Adler, Cyrus (13 September 1863–07 April 1940), academic administrator and Jewish communal leader, was born in Van Buren, Arkansas, to Samuel Adler, a merchant and planter, and Sarah Sulzberger. At an early age Adler’s family moved to Philadelphia and then to New York, where his father died in 1867. The family returned to Philadelphia, where his mother’s brother, David Sulzberger, became head of the household and was a great influence on Adler’s upbringing. As a boy, Adler received an intensive education in Judaic subjects from a consortium of Philadelphia rabbis, headed by ...

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Antin, Mary (13 June 1881–15 May 1949), author, was born in Polotzk, Russia, the daughter of Israel Antin, a scholar and unsuccessful shopkeeper, and Esther Weltman. The assassination of Czar Alexander II three months before her birth unleashed a series of brutal pogroms and increased restrictions on the employment, residency, and education of Jews. These events formed the background of Antin’s childhood, a world she recalled as divided in two, between Polotzk and Russia, Jews and Gentiles, with the constant presence of anti-Semitism....

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Bardin, Shlomo ( December 1898–16 May 1976), Jewish educator, was born Shlomo Bardinstein in Zhitomir, Ukraine, the son of Haim Israel Bardinstein and Menia Weissburd, members of Zhitomir’s Jewish bourgeoisie. After completing his secondary education at the Zhitomir School of Commerce in 1918, he left Russia for Palestine, which was probably when he shortened his name to “Bardin.” From 1920 he worked as an administrative assistant at the Hebrew Secondary School in Haifa before leaving in 1923 for the University of Berlin, where he studied history and economics. Two years later he entered University College in London for a year’s study of English. Bardin returned to Haifa in 1926 and spent two years teaching at the Hebrew Boarding School. He went to New York City in 1928 and was accepted as a graduate student at Columbia University’s Teachers College. At Columbia he studied comparative education with progressive educators who urged him to research the Danish Folk High School to examine its creative use of music to reach disaffected youth. He received his M.A. in 1930. In 1931 Bardin married a sculptor, Ruth Jonas, daughter of a wealthy Brooklyn lawyer; the couple would have two children....

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Bernstein, Philip Sidney (29 June 1901–03 December 1985), Reform rabbi and Jewish leader, was born in Rochester, New York, the son of Abraham M. Bernstein, a wholesaler, and Sarah Steinberg. As a youth he was an enthusiastic member of Young Judea, a Zionist organization. In 1914 the national Zionist convention met in Rochester; there Bernstein met the leaders of American Zionism, among them his lifelong friend and mentor, ...

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Deinard, Ephraim (11 May 1846–24 June 1930), Hebrew author, bibliographer, and bookdealer, was born in Shossmaken, Courland, Russia, the son of Jekuthiel Gerson Deinard and Leah Cohen. In addition to attending traditional schools of Jewish learning, he also studied secular subjects with private tutors. By age eighteen he was contributing articles on current issues to the Hebrew weekly ...

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Dembitz, Lewis Naphtali (03 February 1833–11 March 1907), attorney and activist in public affairs, was born in Zirke, Prussia. His father, Sigmund Dembitz, was a surgeon whose degree from a Prussian university precluded his practicing in Austria, which required an Austrian degree. He, his wife Fanny Wehle, and their three children therefore led a wandering existence throughout other parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, particularly Poland, while Sigmund unsuccessfully sought a profitable practice in various small towns. The young Dembitz attended schools in Munchenberg, Brandenburg, Frangbord, and Sagan and graduated at age fifteen from the Gymnasium of Glogau University in Frankfort-on-the-Oder. Dembitz’s family did not observe religious rituals. A schoolmate at Glogau introduced him to Orthodox Judaism when Dembitz was thirteen, however, and as an adult he adhered strictly to its tenets and rituals. His one semester of legal studies in Prague was interrupted by the unsuccessful political uprising of 1848. Although neither he nor his family were active participants, they found that the combination of their sympathy for the uprising’s libertarian goals and their Jewishness, assimilated though it was, made life in the Empire uncomfortable. Thirty-five members of the interrelated Wehle, Dembitz, and Brandeis families therefore immigrated to the United States in 1849....

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Einstein, Hannah Bachman (28 January 1862–28 November 1929), activist in Jewish and social welfare causes, was born in New York City, the daughter of Herman Bachman, an importer from Germany, and Fanny Obermeyer. Hannah Bachman graduated from the New York Chartier Institute and shortly thereafter married William Einstein, a woolens manufacturer, in 1881. The Einsteins had two children. They were members of a prominent German Jewish Reform synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, founded in New York in 1845. Hannah Bachman Einstein became an active participant in the temple’s sisterhood, established in 1890. The temple sisterhood worked to alleviate the poverty of new Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. It established schools, direct relief programs, and visitations to jails to help children detained as juvenile delinquents. Sisterhood members also visited the homes of needy families. In 1897 Einstein became president of the temple sisterhood, a position she held for twenty-five years....

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Etting, Solomon (28 July 1764–06 August 1847), Jewish merchant and Baltimore civic leader, was born in York, Pennsylvania; he was the second oldest of the eight children of Elijah Etting, a Frankfurt merchant who came to York in 1758, and Shinah Solomon of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As a boy, Solomon acquired business skills, working in the family store. After Elijah Etting, who was an Indian trader, died in July of 1778, Solomon did not go to Baltimore with his mother and his sisters. Along with his brother Reuben, he stayed in York, evidently to protect and preserve the family's business interests. Solomon in 1782 also became an authorized slaughterer of kosher meats ( ...

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Fishberg, Maurice (16 August 1872–30 August 1934), physician, anthropologist, and Jewish community worker, was born in Kamenets-Podolski, Russia, the son of Philip Fishberg and Kate Moverman. Raised in a traditional Jewish household, Fishberg was introduced to modern scientific study in a Russian government school before immigrating to the United States in 1890. He attended the Medical College of New York University, where he received his M.D. in 1897. That same year he married Bertha Cantor; they had two children. Fishberg was initially engaged in private practice on New York’s Lower East Side, later securing a post as chief medical examiner for the city’s United Hebrew Charities. There Fishberg treated immigrant patients who relied on the support of the Jewish community and made recommendations to community leaders on how social conditions and medical care for the Jewish poor could be improved. While at the United Hebrew Charities, Fishberg became concerned with the attempts of immigration restrictionists to paint Jewish immigrants as carriers of disease. His early medical scholarship, therefore, mustered scientific data in an attempt to dispel myths concerning “Jewish pathology,” particularly the common accusation that immigrants were responsible for the spread of tuberculosis. Fishberg demonstrated, in fact, that Jews were more immune to tuberculosis than other immigrants, a fact he attributed to their religious customs and previous exposure to urban life in European towns and cities....

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Ford, Arnold Josiah (23 April 1877–16 September 1935), black Jewish leader, was born in Bridgetown on the island of Barbados, the son of the Reverend Edward Thomas Ford, a Methodist minister, and Elizabeth Augusta Braithwaite. Little is known about Ford’s childhood. He was baptized in June 1877 in the Wesleyan Methodist Church on Barbados. After completing school, he took music lessons and became proficient on various string instruments. In 1899 he joined the British Royal Navy as a musician and spent twenty-one months aboard HMS ...

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Frank, Ray (1861–10 October 1948), journalist and preacher, was born in San Francisco, California, the daughter of Bernard Frank, a peddler and fruit vendor, and Leah (maiden name unknown). She was brought up in a deeply religious home. Her mother was an unassuming, pious woman who was fond of reading the Bible, while her father, an Orthodox Jew, was the great-grandson of Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon, the renowned Vilna Gaon, a great eighteenth-century Lithuanian rabbi. After attending public schools in San Francisco, she graduated from Sacramento High School in 1879 and subsequently moved to Ruby Hill, Nevada, where she taught for six years. She then rejoined her family in Oakland, California. To support herself, she offered private lessons in literature and elocution and began to write for periodicals. She also taught Sabbath school classes at First Hebrew Congregation and soon after became superintendent of its religious school....

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Goldstein, Israel (18 June 1896–11 April 1986), rabbi and Jewish communal leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of David Goldstein, a sexton (shammes), and Fannie Silver. When he was five Goldstein journeyed with his ailing mother to her home in Lithuania. He spent the next two and a half years there in traditional Jewish schools (cheder). He earned a B.A. at the University of Pennsylvania (1914) and an M.A. from Columbia University (1917); was ordained a rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Conservative Judaism’s rabbinical school (1918); and earned a Doctor of Hebrew Letters (1927) for ...

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Gordin, Jacob (01 May 1853–11 June 1909), playwright and teacher, was born in Mirgorod, Ukraine, the son of Yekhiel Mikhel Ha-Levi Gordin, a prosperous merchant, and Ida (maiden name unknown). Gordin received both a secular education and a grounding in traditional Jewish studies. Most of his early jobs were as a Russian-language journalist, at which he made a name for himself for his vignettes of Jewish life. He may also have worked in the Russian theater. He married Anna Itskowitz in 1872; they had eleven children....

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Gratz, Barnard (1738?–20 April 1801), and Michael Gratz (1740?–08 September 1811), Jewish colonial and revolutionary merchants, were born in Langensdorf, Upper Silesia, the sons of Solomon Gratz, a moderately successful dry goods merchant. (Their mother’s name has not been recorded.) Barnard attended school before his parents died in the late 1740s; he went in 1750 to London to work in the export and import business of his cousin Solomon Henry. While in London Barnard continued to study Hebrew, learned English, mathematics, and geography, and, of more importance, acquired business knowledge and skills. While working in Henry’s business, he bought and sold sugar, tea, lumber, and textiles. The business opportunities in America and the close connections between Solomon Henry and ...

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See Gratz, Barnard

Image

Rebecca Gratz. Reproduction of a painting. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109117).

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Gratz, Rebecca (04 March 1781–27 August 1869), pioneer Jewish charitable worker and religious educator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Michael Gratz, of Silesia, a merchant shipper, and Miriam Simon, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Gratz grew up in Philadelphia’s wealthy society, and her brothers expanded the family financial interests to the West....

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Harby, Isaac (09 November 1788–14 December 1828), litterateur and Jewish reformer, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Solomon Harby, an auctioneer, and Rebecca Moses. Harby was educated in a private academy where he excelled in the study of Greek, Latin, and French literature. He entered the College of Charleston in 1805, but he soon left to apprentice in the law office of ...

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Hays, Moses Michael (09 March 1739–09 May 1805), Jewish merchant and Masonic leader, was born in New York City, the oldest of the eight children of Judah Hays, a Dutch merchant who had come to that city in 1733, and Rebecca Michaels Hays, the daughter of New York merchant Moses Michaels. Judah Hays, who became a freeman in 1735 and was naturalized in 1740, took his son Moses Michael into his prospering export and import business during the late 1750s. The young Moses acquired business skills from his father, for Judah purchased and sold food supplies and guns to the British during the French and Indian War and accrued profits from transporting such goods on his ship, the ...

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Kohler, Max James (22 May 1871–24 July 1934), jurist, historian, and Jewish communal worker, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Kaufmann Kohler and Johanna Einhorn. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Germany, and both his father and grandfather, David Einhorn, were leading rabbis of the Reform Movement in American Judaism. Upon the death of Kohler’s grandfather in 1879, his father assumed Einhorn’s pulpit at New York’s Congregation Beth El, and the family moved to that city. There he grew up in an atmosphere infused with a devotion to both religious values and scholarly pursuits. After completing high school, Kohler attended the College of the City of New York, where he won several important literary prizes. Following his graduation in 1890, he entered Columbia University, from which he received both M.A. (1891) and LL.B. (1893) degrees. He was admitted to the New York State bar in 1893 and became an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, resigning after four years to start a private law practice. In 1906 he married Winifred Lichtenauer, who died in 1922. No children resulted from the marriage....