The Souvenir of Western Women/Council of Jewish Women

Council of Jewish Women


ORGANIZED in 1895 for self-help and improvement, the Council of Jewish Women has found its highest sphere in helping others. The history of the Portland section of the Council of Jewish Women differs probably only in name from that of the many other sections. Through years of struggle, indifference, and lack of co-operation, has the Council survived, growing stronger by overcoming each and every obstacle until to-day it is a recognized factor for good in the work of the community. Its present membership is 280.

The most hopeful feature of our organization lies not in our numerical strength, but rather in the quality of that strength, which has enabled us and will enable us to do not only the things that uplift and improve ourselves, but also the things that strive for the upliftment and betterment of humanity.

Through our monthly programs have we succeeded in bringing together the reform Jewess and her orthodox sister, giving to both a common interest in Jewish thought, Jewish history and the Jewish woman's relation to the non-Jewish world. The Jewish woman does not take readily to organization work outside of the field of charity, and so much of our work has been experimental and much effort wasted—no. not wasted, for we have been awakened and the future is all before us.

In the study circle under Dr. Stephen S. Wise have we been led through the historical, prophetical and poetical books of the Bible, this year's work being the study of the apocryphal literature. The Portland section feels that it has advantages second to none in this work. It is not remarkable, therefore, that our class in the study of the Bible should be the subject of inquiry from women of other clubs and other churches, many of whom consider it a privilege to receive the benefits of this class.

The industrial and educational work has proved the center about which much revolves, and it has kept pace with our growth. It has been encouraging in this part of our work to note the growing numbers of women who are interesting themselves in the active conditions and problems of the working world, for until lately comparatively few women had any conception of the needs of life outside of the four walls in which they live.

The growth of this work represents the growth of the Council itself. Beginning as humbly as did the body that created it, it still contends with obstacles and problems, and it will continue to overcome them.

This year marks a special triumph, as, through the co-operation of the Altar Guild of the Temple Beth Israel and the entire Jewish community, a "Neighborhood House" has been erected.

The various schools and activities connected with this work are sewing, domestic science, manual training, drawing, gymnasium, library, free reading room and kindergarten. During the past year two hundred children have taken advantage of the opportunities offered by us, and we hope as the new building marks an era for us it may be but the beginning of a newer and greater effort on our part, the results of which we may yet see in the future citizens of our state.