From the collection of Yale University Library

Rebekah Kohut 1864-1951

Rebekah Bettleheim was born in Hungary to a long line of rabbis, doctors, and political activists. After she immigrated with her family to the United States and settled in San Francisco, Rebekah began her career in social work, providing aid to the needy of her city with the Fruit and Flower Mission, and teaching in the city's first kindergarten. While on a trip to New York City she met Alexander Kohut, rabbi of Central Synagogue and father of eight children from a previous marriage. Rebekah and Alexander married, and she began raising her step-children while administering to her husband's needs as a rabbi and also taking on opportunities in public service. She founded the second synagogue sisterhood in America (at Central Synagogue), and continued her educational work and public speaking insofar as she could reconcile these interests with her responsibilities as a mother. Kohut became an active member and later president of the New York chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, and chaired the Reconstruction Committee tasked with surveying and rebuilding Jewish communities of Europe following World War I. She also advised then-governor Franklin D. Roosevelt on unemployment in New York City in the aftermath of the war.