Women – Wise and Otherwise

The feminine touch—that little distinctive note which vitalizes, humanizes and, sometimes even dramatizes the more abstract ideals and principles to which men give their adherence—this feminine touch is something very special and very valuable. Women are in a position to make a pertinent contribution to the social, the economic, the political and the philanthropic life of our time, and this contribution will be doubly important when the women who make it refrain from merely copying the methods and procedure of their husbands and brothers but courageously and adventurously insist upon their own feminine point of view.

The critical reader may ask: What exactly is this feminine point of view and in which way does it differ from the more masculine approach to the same problem? Two recent events in the Jewish philanthropic field will provide a better and a clearer illustration than any lengthy explanation could possibly achieve. Both have been planned and executed by women, both are definite expressions of the feminine point of view, and both are not duplicating but complementing masculine effort in the same direction.

The one event was the opening of Congress House, the clubhouse for German refugees of the intellectual classes. Men have done splendid things for the persecuted Germans, be they Jews or non-Jews. They have found material relief for them, they have given them in the boycott a tremendous moral support, they have established agencies that provide work for those victims of hatred and offer them the possibility for a new existence. But it remained for women to create for them a true home in alien surroundings, to offer them not only tangible help but the intangible gifts of friendship, of welcome, of comfort, relaxation and recreation, of a surcease from the burden of their personal and their racial sorrows. Congress House, a place of rest and contentment, is charmingly feminine from top to bottom, and its very femininity makes it a delightful and unique contribution to the various institutions of our city.

The second event was the art exhibit which the Women’s Division of the Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies staged at the John Levy Galleries during the last week. On the principle that seeing is believing, the Women’s Division of Federation has induced sixteen prominent artists to picture in photographs paintings, and sketches the work which Federation is supporting in ninety-one institutions, while still-life pictures entitled: Sabbath Loaves, Fish, Pie for Supper, etc. , give hints as to what food bills Federation has to meet in its various charities.

To transpose the statistical figures of Federation’s budget into a living pictorial appeal, to give artistic expression to an economic need is an ideal instance of the feminine touch, and because it strikes this happy feminine note this art exhibit ought to be, and doubtless will be, of immense help in Federation’s drive for support.

Thus we see that the feminine note is something very real and distinctive, although it may elude verbal definition. It is a state of mind which not only gives but gives beautifully, it is a point of view which considers not only physical but also emotional needs.

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