Ms. Rebecca Gertrude Affachiner (RGA)

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Ms. Rebecca Gertrude Affachiner (RGA)

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Ms. Rebecca Gertrude Affachiner was born in New York City in 1884. In 1934 she settled in Palestine, where she lived – except for extended trips abroad – until her death in 1966. She was an active figure in Jewish public service in the United States until 1934 and in Israel from the time of her aliya to the mid 1950’s.
Affachiner attended the School of Philanthropy and Art School in New York. She was the first teacher to graduate from the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York City; she took special courses at Columbia and Yale Universities and Hartford College of Law, etc. She began her career in social work as an investigator for the United Hebrew Charities, New York City, later serving as Assistant Superintendent at Beth Israel Hospital, Y.W.H.A. Superintendent Columbia Religious and Industrial School for Jewish Girls; leader of girl's clubs at the Educational Alliance, Recreation Rooms and Settlements, etc. She was the first woman to act as chaplain in a State Institution, serving in that capacity at the New York State Training School, Hudson, N.Y., under the auspices of the New York Section, Council of Jewish Women.
During World War I, Affachiner was Assistant Regional Director of the American Embarkation Center, Le Man, leaving for France with the first women's unit of the Jewish Welfare Board. Upon her return from service overseas, she conducted a survey for Child Welfare for the United Jewish Aid Society of Brooklyn, N.Y., later making a study of the problem of the Jewish blind, in the same city. For six years, she served as Superintendent of the United Jewish Charities in Hartford and was actively interested in the Connecticut State School for the Blind. Being a pioneer in work among juvenile delinquents, she was responsible for the earliest developments of the Jewish Big Sisters Movement in New York City, and founded the Jewish Big Sister and Big Brother Organizations in Hartford shortly after coming there in 1920.
In May 1923 Affachiner was appointed a Juvenile Commissioner of the City of Hartford, and in 1924 Governor Templeton chose her to represent the State of Connecticut at the International Conference of Social Workers, meeting in Toronto, Canada. She also served as Vice President of the New England Social Workers, Secretary of the Advisory Board, Y.M. and Y.M.H.A. of Hartford Director of the Travelers Aid Society in that city. In 1926 she made a tour of Palestine, Egypt, Italy, and the Near East; upon her return to America she was appointed the first National Field Secretary of Hadassah, of which she was a charter member. From 1929 to 1934 Affachiner was Director of Jewish Social Service for Greater Norfolk Va. Under the Auspices of the Norfolk Section National Council of Jewish Women, she also founded and directed Council House, the first Jewish Community Center in that city.
In 1929 she was elected to represent Norfolk at the World Zionist Congress held in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1934 after resigning her post in Norfolk, Ms. Affachiner returned to Palestine. Shortly after her arrival in Jerusalem she organized the Palestine Society for Crippled Children (later ALYN), acting as its Director of Social Service and in whose interest she made a trip around the world. In 1937 she helped organize the Rumanian Settlers’ Association (Hitahdut Olei Rumania) of which she became the Director, and in whose interest she had visited Rumania and the USA 1937-38.
1939 she was the only woman asked to serve on the Executive Vaad of the Child Placement Bureau Jerusalem – Miklat Dati. She was one of the Jewish Charter Members of the American Association of Social Workers, International Conference of Social Work. She is listed in "Who's Who among American Jews" American Hebrew, 1923, and "Women of 1924" – International.
Affachiner traveled extensively throughout the world. In 1924 she went to Mexico to study the conditions under which the Jews lived there, and the possibilities for settling the Polish Jewish refugees flocking, not only there and to Cuba, but to other Central American countries as well. In 1925 she went to Spain and Portugal, being interested in the problem of the modern Marranos. In 1930 she visited South America, in 1931 she went to Poland and in 1932 to Soviet Russia, being primarily interested in the Jewish problem in these countries.


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ISAAR (CPF), 2nd Edition, 2004.


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Entry prepared on September 2019



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Author(s) : Open Jerusalem

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