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Rebekah Bettelheim Kohut (1864-1951)

Rebekah Bettelheim Kohut (1864-1951)

  • Kohut was born in Kaschau, Hungary. Her father was an outspoken rabbi which led to them immigrating to the United States.
  • Kohut married a Hungarian immigrant rabbi and assisted him with his scholarly work.
  • After the death of her father and brother, she became more active in her community as a means of distraction. She campaigned with the New York’s Women Health Protective Association to improve sanitation. She founded the Central Synagogue’s Sisterhood of Personal Service to assist Jewish immigrants in Manhattan.
  • Kohut became president of New York’s chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) after the death of her husband. Through this position she was invited to speak at the national’s Mother’s Congress as the only female speaker.
  • Kohut became committed to women’s suffrage through her Jewish identity. She found that women in the Torah and Jewish women leaders of the past “were fighting the battle for the emancipation of their sex”. Also, she held the belief as did some other women suffragists of the time that if women did not fight for their rights now, immigrant men would gain the right to vote before they did.
  • Kohut during her suffrage speeches often encountered hecklers who asked who was home taking care of her children and that she should be wearing pants.
  • In 1917, the NCJW agreed to Kohut’s proposal to send Jewish women to Europe to assist with rebuilding Jewish communities. She became the chair of the Reconstruction Committee that sent social workers to rebuild and teach skills such as English.

 

References:

https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/kohut-rebecca

https://books.google.com/books?id=eIITCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA26&lpg=PA26&dq=Rebekah+Bettelheim+Kohut+suffrage&source=bl&ots=pzUv-OsciD&sig=XctgQZOtyPnPhNp0mZ5QGC1gfWY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj6pJ7V9dHdAhXHrFkKHRrWAPAQ6AEwC3oECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=Rebekah%20Bettelheim&f=false(page 26-27)