Henrietta Bruckman

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Henrietta Bruckman
Henrietta Bruckman.png
Henrietta Kahn

April 1810 (1810-04)
DiedApril 1888 (1888-05) (aged 78)
New York City, US
Known forFounder of the first fraternal organization for Jewish women in the United States

Henrietta Bruckman (née Kahn; April 1810 – April 1888) was founder of the first fraternal organization for Jewish women in the United States.[1][2]


Bruckman was born in Bohemia in 1810 and immigrated to the United States with her husband, the physician Dr. Philip Bruckman, around 1842.[2] They settled in New York City and quickly became active members of the city's German Jewish immigrant community, supporting charitable causes and taking part in the community's cultural activities.[2] Philip was a founder of the Mendelssohnian Society, a forerunner of the Jewish fraternal order B'nai B'rith.[3]

In 1846, Bruckman had the idea to form a female counterpart to B'nai B'rith to support Jewish women in the city. She approached several women from Congregation Emanu-El with her proposal, and convened a informal meeting at her house. This led to the creation on April 21 of the secret benevolent society "Unabhängiger Orden Treuer Schwestern" (Independent Order of True Sisters),[2] later known as the United Order of True Sisters (UOTS).[4] The first lodge was named Emanuel Lodge #1, and Bruckman was appointed its first president.[5]

Though B'nai B'rith was not open to women, the UOTS received support from several influential members of the organization, as well as from Emanu-El's minister, Rabbi Dr. Leo Merzbacher.[6] The UOTS adopted a secret ritual, degrees, regalia, and an emblem.[7] Its meetings were initially conducted entirely in German.[8] By the mid-1860s, a central Constitution Grand Lodge had been formed, and the organization had grown to include five other lodges across New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.[5][9]


  1. ^ Schneiderman, Harry, ed. (1931). The American Jewish Year Book 5692. Vol. 33. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America. pp. 169–170.
  2. ^ a b c d  Adler, Cyrus; Bruckman, C. (1902). "Bruckman, Henrietta (née Kahn)". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. p. 401.
  3. ^ Mendelsohn, Adam (2007). "Bruckman, Henrietta". In Berenbaum, Michael; Skolnik, Fred (eds.). Encyclopaedia Judaica. Vol. 4 (2nd ed.). Detroit: Macmillan Reference. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-02-866097-4.
  4. ^ Rechcigl, Miloslav, Jr. (2018). Czechs Won't Get Lost in the World, Let Alone in America: Portraits and Vignettes from the Life of Czech Immigrants in America. Bloomington: AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1-5462-3890-4.
  5. ^ a b Wilhelm, Cornelia (2002). "The Independent Order of True Sisters: Friendship, Fraternity, and a Model of Modernity for Nineteenth Century American Jewish Womanhood". American Jewish Archives Journal. 54 (1): 37–63.
  6. ^ Wilhelm, Cornelia (2011). The Independent Orders of B'nai B'rith and True Sisters: Pioneers of a New Jewish Identity, 1843–1914. Wayne State University Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-8143-3705-9.
  7. ^ Schmidt, Alvin J. (1980). Fraternal Organizations. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Institutions. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. pp. 333–334. ISBN 0-313-21436-0.
  8. ^ Falk, Gerhard (2014). The German Jews in America: A Minority within a Minority. Lanham: University Press of America. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-7618-6306-9.
  9. ^ Wilhelm, Cornelia (2005). "Unabhängiger Orden Treuer Schwestern". In Adam, Thomas (ed.). Germany and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History. Vol. 1. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. pp. 1065–1066. ISBN 978-1-85109-628-2.