Solomon describes the Chicago Jewish social scene in the
grandparents celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in
1868, with a tremendous affair given at the Concordia, then
the most popular Jewish social club, of which Uncle Henry
was a founder, as well as its first president. All of the
pioneer Jewish families were invited, as well as many friends
and relatives from other cities, all of whom joined enthusiastically
with the children and grandchildren of the family in celebration.
. . .
Mother was a remarkable mater familias, yet in spite of
her many home duties, she found time to befriend all who
needed her. In 1883, she called together a group of women
to form Chicago's first Jewish Ladies Sewing Society, where
they made garments for the poor and aided the unfortunate.
It was a source of deep gratification to us that Mother's
ability and quality of leadership were recognized and honored
when a sister branch . . . was organized in 1907, and named
the Sarah Greenebaum Lodge. . . .
In addition to being involved in Jewish organizations, the
Greenebaum family were enthusiastice participants in other
Chicago cultural and civic groups.
Apollo Choral Society was foremost among the many amateur
music organizations existing in those early days, particularly
among the German-born groups. The Beethoven Society, another
of the leading singing associations, was the one to which
Mary [Hannah's sister], Henriette [Hannah's other sister]
and her husband, Henry Frank and I belonged. No affiliation
brought us greater pleasure than those hours we devoted to
singing with the large mixed chorus, preparing for the public
concerts and oratorios we presented from time to time, and
in which many renowned musicians participated. . . .
Uncle Henry Greenebaum was the Beethoven Society's first
president. Indeed, it would have been difficult to find
a roster of any educational, cultural or philanthropic organization
of that day which did not include his name. . . . His wide
interests brought him prominence in civic affairs, as well,
and he was a leader, too, in Jewish and German circles.
. . .
In 1877, Hannah's father, Michael Greenebaum, organized a
Jewish literary group for youth.
remained, for a number of years, one of our few prescribed
means of self-expression, until--in 1877--my father proved
again his understanding of youth and his instinctive gift
of answering its needs. He called a meeting of all the young
Jewish folks of the West Side and organized for us, the Zion
Literary Society. . . . I served on its first
board. . . . Our whole circle of associates were active members
of the Zion Literary Society until it was disbanded in 1892.
. . .
Also in 1877, Hannah and her sister were invited to join the
Chicago Women's Club, one of the many women's organizations
established in the U.S. after the Civil War.
entrance into the Chicago Woman's Club was significant for
the organization as well as for us, as we were not only the
first Jewish women invited into it, but were probably the
only Jewesses many of the members ever had met. To join an
organization of "women"--not "ladies"--and one which bore
the title "club," rather than "society," was in itself a radical
step, but my parents approved, for they wholeheartedly endorsed
its educational value. We met either in a hotel or in private
homes; occasionally at that of the president and founder.
. . .
Those were the days when politics (including, of course,
woman"s suffrage) and religion were taboo as subjects for
discussion in the Club but in 1892 the program committee
asked me to present its first paper on religion for which
I chose the subject, "Our debt to Judaism."
Several Jewish women involved in women's clubs, including
Hannah, became motivated to found a specifically Jewish
women's organization. In 1893, they established the National
Council for Jewish Women, a philanthropic and educational
organization still active today.