Bruckman, Henrietta

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BRUCKMAN, HENRIETTA (1810–1888), founder of the Independent Order of True Sisters. Henrietta Bruckman and her husband Philip, a physician, immigrated to America from Bohemia in 1842, settling in New York City. The Bruckmans joined the city's immigrant German Jewish elite, supporting charitable efforts on behalf of their less well-off fellow immigrants, and participating in the community's cultural life. Shortly after his arrival, Philip, together with a group of other middle-class German immigrants, founded the Mendelssohnian Society. This Cultus Verein provided the impetus for the establishment of the *B'nai B'rith, a secular Jewish fraternal order, in 1843, and the basis of Temple Emanu-El, which was formed in 1845. Despite considerable interest, the B'nai B'rith refused to accept female members. Temple Emanu-El similarly rebuffed efforts to create a society for the women of the congregation. In 1846, Henrietta Bruckman, mustering support from among her friends, proposed the creation of a female counterpart to the B'nai B'rith open exclusively to women. The initiative was supported by Philip Bruckman, his business partner Dr. James Mitchel, Rabbi Dr. Leo *Merzbacher, the minister of Emanu-El, and a number of influential members of the B'nai B'rith and Temple Emanu-El. The Emanuel Lodge of the Unabhängiger Orden Treuer Schwestern (Independent Order of True Sisters) was established a few weeks later as a philanthropic and educational organization. At its first meeting, James Mitchel provided instruction in the ritual and functioning of the lodge system, and Henrietta Bruckman was installed as its first president. Thereafter the Order operated independently of the B'nai B'rith. At its founding, it was the only fraternal organization in America open exclusively to women.


H. Grinstein, The Rise of the Jewish Community of New York (1847); C. Wilhelm, in: American Jewish Archives Journal, 54 (2002), 4–4

[Adam Mendelsohn (2nd ed.)]