The Beginning

While women held various positions at the Associated Jewish Charities (AJC), it wasn’t until 1945 that a formal Women’s Campaign Committee* organized. Helen Dalsheimer served as its first chair and encouraged women to step up and contribute in their own names, not just in the names of their families or husbands.

There was also an urgency in the air: Tens of thousands of European Jews were left without homes after World War II.

“The task is so enormous that every Jewish woman must do her share in this sacred cause, regardless of whether or not in the past a contribution has been made in the name of the husband or in the form of a family pledge,” read a letter sent to 7,700 Baltimore women in April 1947 by the committee.

And women responded. Numerous fundraising teas were hosted around town. At one such event, a woman related her experiences visiting a European orphanage. That event alone raised more than $67,000 (the equivalent of $760,000 today) from just the 14 women in attendance.

In 1948, the Women’s Campaign Committee started the “Dime A Day” campaign, which encouraged donors to pledge 10 cents a day or $36.50 annually. The six-week drive raised $16,936 from 464 donors. “I remember telling my husband that I committed to 10 cents a day, and he said, ‘That’s more than I make!’ But we did it,” recalled one donor.

* Note: The notes on Woman’s Giving talk about the Women’s Division as early as 1945, but the women’s history book states that the women’s branch was called the Women’s Campaign Committee until 1957.

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