National Council of Jewish Women: From One Woman to Many
The year was 1893 - Hannah G. Solomon was organizing the participation of American Jewish Women at the Chicago World’s Fair. She called for an organization to “shape the destinies and possibilities” of American lives. Many of those lives were in turmoil. Industrialization, waves of immigration, and the rise of the cities had contributed to dislocation and social injustice. Hannah counted Jane Adams and Susan B. Anthony among her associates. Because of her well-known reputation, Hannah Solomon’s words were taken seriously. She created the formation of the Congress of Jewish Women, the first such American group, whose name was later changed to National Council of Jewish Women (National Council). She became National President of the National Council.
After the National Council convention in 1901, Hannah came to Nashville to help Leah Lebeck organize a Nashville Section of the National Council. Hannah is quoted in The Nashville American, March 4, 1901: “I bring to you greetings from 6,000 Jewish women, represented in the National Council, who, through me invite you to organize and join them in the work…its raison d’etre is the study of the Jewish religion….The main object of the National Council is individual improvement, and the work is divided into the study of the Jewish religion and history and the work of philanthropy.” Bertha Fensterwald, as President, and Leah Lebeck, as Vice President, led this newly formed Nashville Section of the National Council of Jewish Women - NCJW Nashville.