Date of Birth : Mar 4, 1781
Date of Death : Aug 27, 1869
Rebecca Gratz was a preeminent Jewish American educator and philanthropist.
Gratz was the seventh of twelve children born to Miriam Simon and Michael Gratz. Her mother was the daughter of Joseph Simon, a preeminent Jewish merchant of Lancaster, while her father immigrated to America in 1752 from Langendorf, in German-speaking Silesia. Michael, who was descended from a long line of respected rabbis, and Miriam were observant Jews and active members of Philadelphia’s first synagogue, Mikveh Israel.
In 1801, at the age of 20, she helped establish the Female Association for the Relief of Women and Children in Reduced Circumstances, which helped women whose families were suffering after the American Revolutionary War. In 1815, after seeing the need for an institution for orphans in Philadelphia, she was among those instrumental in founding the Philadelphia Orphan Asylum. Four years later, she was elected secretary of its Board. She continued to hold this office for forty years. Under Gratz' auspices, a "Hebrew Sunday School" was started in 1838. Gratz became both its superintendent and president, and assisted in developing its curriculum, resigning in 1864.