Hannah Bachman Einstein
by Seymour "Sy" Brody
Hannah Bachman Einstein was a leader in helping widowed and deserted mothers and their children and Jewish philanthropies. Being a deeply religious individual, she dedicated her life to these noble causes.
She was born on January 28, 1862, in New York City, to Fanny and Herman S. Bachman, who had recently emigrated from Germany. She married William Einstein, a woolens manufacturer, on June 23, 1881. They had two children, William and Marian.
They lived in New York City where she became involved with the Temple Emanu-El Sisterhood, which was engaged in helping the sick, the needy and any other charity that was necessary.
In 1897, Hannah Bachman Einstein became the president of the Sisterhood and two years later, she became the president of the New York Federation of Sisterhoods. She managed to find time to be active in the United Hebrew Charities of New York. Her need for a better understanding of the social problems led her to take courses in sociology and criminology at various colleges.
Her dedication, energy and leadership resulted in her becoming the chairperson of the relief committee of the United Hebrew Charities. Her experience in working with dependent children and widowed and deserted mothers convinced her that institutions were not the answer for these children. Einstein felt very strongly that the problems of these dependent children were in the breakup of the family unit. The single mother was needed at home to raise the children and when that didn't happen, the children would soon be a problem for society.
After a few attempts at having private philanthropy keep the family as a unit, she realized that public funding was needed. She and Sophie Irene Loeb were major players in fighting for the passage of "mothers' pension" legislation. This was opposed by the orphanages and children's institutions. Finally, it was approved by the state legislature and in 1915, she helped pave the way for the Child Welfare Law. Einstein became chairperson of the "strategic families' committee of New York City's Child Welfare Board and served from 1915 until her death.
She became president of the New York State Child Welfare Boards and was a founder of the National Union of Public Child Welfare Officers. Her influence and drive for aid to widowed and deserted mothers was felt throughout the nation and by 1920, most of the states had passed "mothers' pension" legislation.
Her career was not confined to widowed and deserted mothers and their children. She was very active in Jewish charitable organizations. She was the secretary of the Mount Sinai Hospital Training School for Nurses, a director of the National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives in Denver, a vice president of the New York Conference of Charities and Correction and she was a founder of the Federation of Jewish Women's Organizations.
Hannah Einstein was not a professional in Jewish philanthropies or child welfare. She became proficient in her work through experience, volunteering and her concern with those needing help. She freely gave her services because of her dedication and love of God and humanity.
She died on November 28, 1929. She left behind a legacy that made it possible for single women to be with their children to raise them to become better citizens and leaders in America.
This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes & Heroines of America : 150 True Stories of American Jewish Heroism, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.
Source: Jewish Heroes and Heroines in America.