BRENNER, ROSE (1884–1926), fifth president of the
*National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW)
, helped build the organization's national membership from 30,000 to 52,000 during her tenure. Born in Brooklyn to Louise (Blumeneau) and Jacob Brenner, a judge, Brenner attended Adelphi College, where she earned a B.A. in 1908. While still in college, Brenner took on the responsibility of raising her five younger brothers and sisters after their mother died.
After graduation, Brenner became involved in the NCJW's Brooklyn Section, serving as president from 1912 to 1918. While in office, she suggested that the Sabbath nearest Purim be designated "Council Sabbath"; synagogues across the nation later recognized and observed this date. Brenner also served as a national vice president (1915–16) and eventually national president (1920–26) of the NCJW. During her presidency, the Council's speakers bureau and junior division grew, and the Council pushed for child-labor regulations and for America's participation in the League of Nations. Likewise, under her leadership, the NCJW extended its immigrant aid work to include social-welfare services for Jews living in rural areas. NCJW's Department of Farm and Rural Work was the only organization that provided ongoing services for the religious, health, and education needs of rural Jews. The Council organized and hired traveling Hebrew teachers, nurses, and lecturers, who shared information on a variety of subjects – ranging from Jewish history to sexual hygiene – with Jewish residents in rural communities. The organization also arranged Jewish holiday celebrations and provided the required foods and ritual objects.
Brenner served on the Brooklyn School Board, was the first woman on the executive board of trustees of Beth Elohim Temple (Brooklyn), and was a president of its sisterhood. Although she remained single, she had a lifelong companion, Fannie R. Cohen.
M. Campbell, The First Fifty Years: A History of the National Council of Jewish Women, 1893–1943 (1943); S. Korelitz. "'A Magnificent Piece of Work': The Americanization Work of the National Council of Jewish Women," in: American Jewish History, 83:2 (June 1995); P. Pearlstein, "Brenner, Rose," in: Paula E. Hyman and D. Dash Moore (eds)., Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (1998), 174–76; F. Rogow, Gone to Another Meeting: The National Council of Jewish Women, 1893–1993 (1993).
[Aleisa Fishman (2nd ed.)]
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