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Johanna Schwabe Goldschmidt


GOLDSCHMIDT, JOHANNA SCHWABE (1806–1884), author and social activist. Goldschmidt was born in Hamburg. Her father, Marcus Herz Schwabe, was one of the founders of the Hamburg Reform Temple in 1817 and Johanna attended its first confirmation class. Johanna married Moritz Goldschmidt in 1827. The couple had eight children and their care effectively kept Johanna from any outside activity for 20 years. In 1847 she launched a career as a writer and social activist with her first book, Rebekka and Amalia, written as a series of letters between a young Jew, Rebekka, and a Christian aristocrat named Amalia. The general topic of the work was the problem of Jewish conversion and assimilation, but in one of its chapters, Goldschmidt focused on a plan for an organization in which rich women would help poorer women to improve themselves by means of lectures and instruction. Within one year of the publication of Rebekka and Amalia, Johanna Goldschmidt, together with her friend Amalie Westendarp, founded the Women's Association to Combat and Reduce Religious Prejudice, an organization that promoted the early, non-sectarian education of children. Goldschmidt's second book, Mothers' Worries and Mothers' Joys (1849), led to more social activism and the founding of a seminary to train teachers in the new methods pioneered by educator Friedrich Froebel. In this project she worked closely with liberal Christian women. Goldschmidt remained active in both the Women's Association and the seminary and also continued writing sporadically. Her play, "A Look at the Family," opened in Hamburg in 1864.

Sources:I. Fassmann, Juedinnen in der deutschen Frauenbewegung (1996); M. Keyserling, Die juedischen Frauen in der Geschichte, Literatur und Kunst (1879; repr. 1991); E. Taitz, S. Henry, and C. Tallan, The JPS Guide to Jewish Women: 600 B.C.E.–1900 C.E. (2003).

[Emily Taitz (2nd ed.)]

Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.