Kohut, Rebekah Bettelheim

Kohut, Rebekah Bettelheim

(1864–1951) educator, welfare worker; born in Kaschau, Hungary (now Kosice, Slovakia). Daughter of a rabbi and a schoolteacher, she was brought to the U.S.A. in 1867. Her mother died when Rebekah was six and her father moved to San Francisco, where she experienced a call to become a welfare worker. When in 1887 she married the noted rabbi Alexander Kohut, a widower with eight children, she followed him to New York City and seemed destined to place her career subservient to his needs, although she did do volunteer work, helped to organize Jewish women's groups, and began to teach classes to Jewish immigrants. After Kohut died in 1894, she supported her inherited family with lectures, and, with the financial support of Jacob Schiff, she founded the Kohut School for Girls (1899–1904). When World War I broke out in Europe, she was helping young Jewish women find employment, but once the U.S.A. entered the war in 1917 she was recruited by the federal government to help place women in jobs. After World War I she devoted herself to relief work for Jews in Europe and in 1923 she became president of the World Congress of Jewish Women. She continued to serve as an adviser on employment to Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York and that state's legislature. She was director of Columbia Grammar School in New York City in the late 1930s and remained active in governmental, religious, philanthropic, and women's organizations until her death.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.