"Rabbi" Ray Frank


"Rabbi" Ray Frank


Sometimes your heroes really disappoint.

I’m not talking about Stanton or Anthony or Alice Paul. I’m talking about Ray Frank.

Frank was the first Jewish woman to preach from a pulpit in the US - before a crowd of 1,000 people. Thread.

The story is that she arrived in Spokane WA on the eve of Rosh Hashana 1890 to find a tiny Jewish community so fractious that no service was planned. She said she’d give the sermon if a minyan - surely of men - could be found. Her offer was announced in that evening's paper... and a crowd gathered. @UmanskyEllen says she preached that night, the next day and on Yom Kippur, launching a proto-rabbinic career. Though never ordained, she created congregations throughout the west. She was offered a job leading a congregation in Chicago, which she declined.

Frank was there in 1893 at the founding of @NCJW👇She delivered a formal address on Women in the Synagogue at the Jewish Women’s Congress.

But she opposed women’s suffrage.

Her speech “The Jewish Woman and Suffrage” was . . . against.

Though herself unmarried and kid-free, she argued that Jewish women should focus on their domestic lives.

In an 1895 newspaper interview, Frank said “I am not a suffragist because I do not believe that a woman can properly fulfill her home duties and be out in the world, too.”

Not only did she eschew voting for women; she would gladly restrict the vote to select men. In the same interview she said the right to vote should be “granted strictly according to the intelligence and capacity of the individual for government.”

Ray Frank married at age 40 and retired from public life. Her husband was an economics professor. They settled in Illinois and for the next 40 years she volunteered with local groups, including her synagogue and eventually the League of Women Voters. #Suffrage100 


Daily Suffragist




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Daily Suffragist, “"Rabbi" Ray Frank,” Daily Suffragist, accessed June 14, 2024, https://dailysuffragist.omeka.net/items/show/346.

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