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Sadie American

(1862 - 1944)

AMERICAN, SADIE (1862–1944), U.S. organizational leader. American was born and educated in Chicago. In 1893, in conjunction with the World Parliament of Religions, she was asked to organize the National Council of Jewish Women, an organization she served as executive secretary until 1914. In this capacity, she established the ncjw's Department of Immigrant Aid and Ellis Island programs. She went on to help found Jewish women's organizations in England (1899) and Germany (1904) and was instrumental in forming the International Council of Jewish Women (1923). Sadie American was a leader in the suffragist movement and the fight against white slavery, and a pioneer in establishing vocational schools and public playgrounds. An activist member of many civic and philanthropic organizations, including the General Federation of Women's Clubs and the International Council of Women, she was frequently invited to deliver conference papers and consulted to several governments. American was also involved in the Reform movement, teaching Sunday school at Chicago Sinai Congregation and speaking from the pulpit of other congregations. She supported the Sunday Sabbath and the ordination of women. In speeches on behalf of the ncjw, she called on women to extend their domestic responsibilities outside the home to participate in social reform work for the benefit of society. At the same time, she urged women to carry on Jewish traditions, arguing that their roles as mothers uniquely positioned them to combat assimilation.


K.M. Olitzky, L.J. Sussman, and M.H. Stern, Reform Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Source-book (1993).

[Bezalel Gordon (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.