The American Delegate(s)* Part IV

Written by Avi Y. Decter. Originally published in Generations 2007-2008: Maryland and Israel

Sidebar I: The Other Americans: Rosa Sonneschein (1847 – 1935)

Missed the beginning? Start here.

Rosa Sonnenschein, from The American Jewess. Courtesy of the University of Michigan.
Rosa Sonnenschein, from The American Jewess. Courtesy of the University of Michigan.

Rosa Sonneschein was a pioneering journalist, the founder of the first English-language magazine for Jewish women in the United States. In the pages of her magazine, The American Jewess, she promoted the National Council of Jewish Women and the Zionist movement. She had the distinction of attending both the first and second Zionist Congresses, reporting on the Congress in the pages of her journal.

Rosa Fassel was born in Moravia and grew up in Hungary, where she received excellent secular and Judaic educations, IN 1864 she married Solomon Hirsch Sonneschein, a radical Reform rabbi with a congregation in Croatia. After several moves the couple settled in St. Louis, where Mrs. Sonneschein was active in Jewish and German cultural life. By the mid-1880s Sonneschein had begun to publish stories in Jewish periodicals and in the German-language press.

In 1891 she separated from her husband; their divorce was finalized in 1893. Shortly after, Sonneschein participated in the Jewish Women’s Congress, which created the National Council of Jewish Women. In April 1895 she began editing The American Jewish. During the next four years she advocated for the expansion of women’s roles in the Synagogue and the Jewish community. She was also a staunch supporter of the Zionist idea, of Theodor Herzl, and of the Zionist Congress.

When financial difficulties forced the closing of The American Jewess in 1899, Sonneschein continued to write and travel, but was never again publicly active in Jewish women’s organizations or the Zionist movement. She died in St. Louis, where she had resided intermittently in her daughter’s home.[1]

Continue to Sidebar II: The Other Americans: Davis Treitsch (1870 – 1935)

[1] Jane H. Rothstein, “Sonneschein, Rosa,” in Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia (New York: Rutledge, 1997), 1289-1291.

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