Cleveland Jewry to Honor Memory of Rebecca Gratz by Dedication This Month
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Cleveland Jewry to Honor Memory of Rebecca Gratz by Dedication This Month

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The memory of Rebecca Gratz, educator and philanthropist of the early 19th century, will be honored here on September 25 by the dedication of a bronze bas relief tablet bearing her likeness at the entrance of a new section of the Hebrew Cultural Gardens.

Dedication ceremonies of the new unit, to be known as the Rock Garden, are being arranged by the Gan Ivri League in celebration of the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Hebrew Gardens. The occasion will also mark the centenary of the death of Sir Walter Scott, to whom Rebecca Gratz served as the inspiration for the character “Rebecca” in “Ivanhoe.”

The Gan Ivri League was organized in 1927 for the development of the Hebrew Garden. Mrs. Jennie K. Zwick, chairman, announces that the Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Parent Teachers Association and other women’s organizations will be represented on the dedicatory program.

The character and service of Rebecca Gratz was described by Washington Irving in 1817 as devoted to philanthropy, to the cause of Jewish education and to literary achievements. Her friendship with Irving sprang from their joint devotion to Matilda Hoffman, fiancee of Irving, who passed away at eighteen in New York after a lingering illness. Miss Gratz had been a friend of Miss Hoffman’s mother and had known Matilda from childhood.

Irving remained unmarried and the tragedy of his betrothed’s death affected his whole life. While visiting Scott, Irving described Miss Gratz’s service as a leader in charitable institutions and her devotion to her faith. After the appearance of “Ivanhoe” in 1819, Scott wrote to Irving: “How do you like your Rebecca? Does the Rebecca I have pictured compare well with the pattern given”

William Thackeray regarded Miss Gratz as the “sweetest character in the whole range of fiction.”

The sculptor of the bas relief likeness of Miss Gratz is Miriam E. Cramer. The most famous early American artists painted the likeness of Miss Gratz, including Gilbert Stuart, Sully and Malbourne. A large boulder near the entrance of the newly developed rock garden section of the Hebrew Garden has been selected for the tablet now being designed by Mrs. Cramer.

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