Among the women leaders of our metropolis Mrs. Samuel Spiegel, president of the Women’s League of the United Synagogue occupies a unique position. A graduate of Teachers’ College, Columbia University, possessor of B. S. and M. A. degrees, Mrs. Spiegel is one of the few, perhaps the only Jewish woman, who has received from this institution a diploma as “Adviser to Women,” which means that she is entitled to serve as a Dean in any Women’s College.
Mrs. Spiegel has never occupied that position, yet she has at all times been exactly what her diploma implies: an adviser to women, guiding her co-sisters in their endeavor to uphold Jewish ideals, teaching them that traditional Judaism is a thing of precious beauty and deep spiritual satisfaction.
The public work of Mrs. Spiegel is so well known that there is no need to dwell on this aspect of her personality, but our readers might be interested to meet the woman behind the leader, to hear her informally speak of her personal views.
‘A GREAT LADY’
Mrs. Spiegel has the gracious simplicity and unpretentiousness of a great lady. She frankly states that in her opinion women will find their true vocation and highest happiness in home life. To create a harmonious and peaceful home is woman’s first duty and her greatest accomplishment.
“However,” adds Mrs. Spiegel, “if after having given her best efforts to her home and her children a woman has still leisure time at hand, or when the time arrives that her children are grown up and no longer need her constant care, then she should devote her leisure hours not to the vain and futile fripperies of a mere butterfly existence but to purposeful and serious work in any field in which she is gifted.
“It saddens me to see so many women waste the precious years with a mere playing at life. Bridge and teas, supper and dances, visits to hairdressers and masseuse, to the leading coutouriers and the milliners in vogueâ€”all this can not bring lasting satisfaction to any human being. If a woman fails to develop her heart and mind, if she does not learn to take an intelligent interest in the problems that confront us, be these problems of religious, political or economic nature, then she will cease to be valued by those nearest and dearest to her. Even her children will lose touch with her and turn for companionship to those who have cultivated their intellectual and emotional capacities to their full measure.
“Many a time I have spoken with such a woman, trying to interest her in something worth while, teaching her that “charity work’ does not mean running from one bridge party to the other or even selling tickets for some benefit matinee, but that only personal service can accomplish something of value. But again and again I found that, though we have splendid women in our midst who are doing really excellent work for the entire community, there is yet quite a large group to which one may apply the word of the preacher: ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
And with a pensive smile Mrs. Spiegel quotes Elmer Hubbard’s saying that the true character of a person is not apparent in his or her vocation but in the avocation to which they have devoted their leisure time.
If we add that Mrs. Spiegel, in addition to all her other activities, is deeply interested in music and painting, being herself quite an accomplished artist, we have at least indicated what an interesting and rounded personality she possesses. She is, indeed, a representative figure in Jewish womanhood, and she does the rarest of all things: she practices what she preaches.