1801 Rebecca Gratz
At the tender age of 20, Rebecca Gratz founded the Female Association for the Relief of Women and Children in Reduced Circumstances, an 1801 charitable organization that assisted victims of the American Revolution. Several years later she was a principal contributor to the establishment of the Orphan Society of Philadelphia. While the society was a Christian organization and Gratz was a devout Jew, she served as one of three original board members and gave of her family fortune. When a fire destroyed the society’s building, Gratz led the fundraising campaign to build a new one. Gratz was equally active in Jewish causes. She was a founding member of the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society in 1819, which continues two hundred years later in its mission of aiding Jewish women in financial crisis. Gratz also helped start the Hebrew Sunday school and laid the groundwork for Philadelphia’s Jewish Foster Home and Orphan Asylum.
- Detailed history of Gratz and her charitable works, jwa.org/womenofvalor/gratz