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Blaustein, David (05 May 1866–26 August 1912), rabbi, educator, and social worker, was born in Lida, Russian Poland, the son of Isaiah Blaustein and Sarah Natzkovsky. The family was of humble means, and David was eight years old when his father died. Nine years later he ran away from home to the Prussian town of Memel in order to obtain an education. He then journeyed to Schwerin, the capital of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, where he enrolled in a Jewish teacher’s preparatory school under the leadership of Dr. Fabian Feilchenfeld. His intention was to be a cantor-shochet-teacher to the German Jews, but Bismarck’s ban on Russian Jews in Germany forced him to emigrate to America....

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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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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....

Article

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....

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Nathan, Maud (20 October 1862–15 December 1946), activist in Jewish and community organizations, was born in New York City, the daughter of Robert Weeks Nathan, a businessman, and Anne Augusta Florance. Maud grew up in an orthodox Sephardic Jewish environment. Prominent members of New York City’s Spanish-Portuguese Jewish community, her father’s family proudly dated its arrival to the colonies in 1773. Maud was educated in private schools until, at the age of twelve, her father suffered business reverses and the family moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she completed public high school. In 1880 she married her cousin Frederick Nathan, a stockbroker; they had one child, who died at age eight. The couple settled in New York City....

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Proskauer, Joseph Meyer (06 August 1877–11 September 1971), judge, political adviser, and Jewish communal leader, was born in Mobile, Alabama, the son of Alfred Proskauer, a bank cashier, and Rebecca Leinkauf. Born into a southern Jewish family of German and Hungarian descent, Proskauer was educated at Columbia College (B.A., 1896) and Columbia Law School (LL.B., 1899) and began practicing law in New York City in partnership with college friend James Rosenberg in 1900. Two years later both men entered the well-known firm of James, Schell & Elkus, which eventually became Elkus, Gleason & Proskauer. In 1903 Proskauer married Alice Naumburg. ...

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Rubinow, Isaac Max (19 April 1875–01 September 1936), social insurance expert and Jewish social service administrator, was born in Grodno, Russia, the son of Max Simon Rubinow, a textile merchant, and Esther Shereshewsky. Little is known about Rubinow’s childhood other than the fact that he migrated to the United States at the age of eighteen. Having a relatively privileged background, he was connected to a cosmopolitan network of kin, who facilitated his entry into American life. Rubinow enrolled in Columbia University, earning a B.A. in 1895 and an M.D. three years later. In 1899 he married Sophia Himowich; they had three children. As a doctor to New York City’s poor between 1898 and 1903, Rubinow discovered that the illnesses and disabilities he treated were as much socioeconomic as physiological or pathological in origin. Eager to corroborate this hypothesis, he abandoned his medical practice and began to conduct the sort of investigative studies of the urban working class being done at the time by Charles Booth in England. He took graduate courses in mathematics while working for a Ph.D. in political science at Columbia. Under the direction of ...

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Stephen Samuel Wise Photograph by Pirie MacDonald, 1913. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-75146).

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Wise, Stephen Samuel (17 March 1874–19 April 1949), rabbi, reformer, and Jewish communal leader, was born in Erlau, Hungary (near Budapest), the son of Aaron Weisz (later Wise), a rabbi, and Sabine de Fischer Farkashazy, the daughter of a baron. Aaron Weisz immigrated to the United States in 1874 and fifteen months later sent for his wife and children. The descendant of six generations of rabbis, Stephen Wise never considered any other career. He studied first with his father, then simultaneously at both the new Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University (graduating from Columbia in 1892). In 1893 he took his rabbinical ordination in Vienna from Adolf Jellinik, the renowned Jewish rabbi and scholar....