Public schools have a long tradition of being named after historical figures, some lesser known. Learn about nine schools named for incredible Jewish women — and one building.
In 2014, the IJN reported that Denver Public Schools voted to name a new elementary school in Green Valley Ranch after Frances Wisebart Jacobs, a founder of National Jewish Hospital as well as Community Chest, which today is United Way.
While there is no Frances Wisebart Jacobs elementary school, DPS confirmed to the IJN there is the Frances Jacobs Building which is home to Highline Academy in Green Valley Ranch.
Would that qualify for inclusion on the list below? We think so.
Here’s the list courtesy of Emily Burack at Kveller.
1. Judith Resnik
Astronaut Judith Resnik was born in Akron, Ohio and received her PhD from the University of Maryland, so it’s fitting that Akron and Gaithersburg, Maryland, are home to elementary schools named for her. Resnik’s parents were Jewish immigrants from Ukraine.
She was the first Jewish woman in space as well as the first American Jewish astronaut. Tragically, she died at age 36 in the Challenger disaster in 1986.
2. Henrietta Szold
PS 134 in New York City is the Henrietta Szold School. The school serves students in grades pre-K through fifth grade.
Henrietta Szold was the founder of Hadassah, which helped fund hospitals, health care facilities, soup kitchens and other services for the yishuv (Jewish community) in Mandatory Palestine. Szold was born in Maryland and died in 1945 in Mandatory Palestine.
3. Hannah G. Solomon
Born in 1858 in Chicago, Hannah Solomon was a social reformer and the founder of the National Council of Jewish Women. Solomon helped found Chicago’s first Reform synagogue and worked on fostering interfaith relationships. The elementary school named for her is located on Chicago’s North Side.
“We must add our voices to those who cry out that there is a standard below which we will not allow human beings to live, and that that standard is not at the freezing nor starving point,” Solomon said. “In a democracy all are responsible.”
4. Dr. Ray K. Daily
Ray K. Daily Elementary in Houston is named for the Vilna, Lithuania-born Daily who became the first Jewish woman to graduate from a Texas medical school.
According to the Houston Chronicle, “She overcame prejudice against women and Jews in medicine, politics and education.”
“Dr. Ray” was also the first woman president of the medical staff at Houston’s Memorial Hospital and served on the Houston School Board for 24 years.
5. Annie Fisher
The Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School in Hartford, Conn. is named for the city’s first female principal.
Fisher, born in Russia in 1882, fled to the US with her family. She attended Wesleyan University and then returned to Hartford to teach.
As the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford notes, “Fisher became Hartford’s first female district superintendent and first female principal, but sometimes had to suffer the prejudices of colleagues who didn’t want to accept a female or a Jew in these positions.”
6. Emma Lazarus
In 1883, Emma Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus,” the poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
It has become a calling card for immigrants everywhere, and how everyone could find a place in America. Fittingly, the high school named for her is in her hometown of New York City, and is for English-language learners who are new the US.
Lazarus was born into a large Sephardic Jewish family in 1849 and died at the age of 38.
7. Golda Meir
Golda was born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1898. At age eight, her family moved to Milwaukee, where she attended the Fourth Street Grade School from 1906 to 1912. Guess what that school is now called? The Golda Meir School. The school is for “gifted and talented students” and offers classes for grades 3-12.
Golda also spent time in Denver, and while there is no school here (and an attempt to name a West Side library after her ultimately failed, with the honor going to Chicano activist Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales) her former home, a humble brick duplex, was preserved and moved to the Auraria campus downtown where it eventually became the Gold Meir Center, a gathering place and events center.
8. Ida Straus
Isidor Straus was the co-owner of Macy’s Department Store; Ida Straus was his wife. The couple died on board the Titanic — Isidor urged his wife to board a lifeboat, but she refused, saying, “We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go.”
New York City’s PS 198 is the Isidor & Ida Straus School.
9. Anne Frank
There are at least two elementary schools in America named for Anne Frank, one in Philadelphia and one in Dallas. While Frank never visited the US, The Diary of Anne Frank is a staple of American public school education.
Anyone else missing from the list?