Born in Romania, Fanny Brin emigrated to Minneapolis at a young age, and she spent her life in that city. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Minnesota, she married and had three children. While dedicated to her domestic role, Brin served the National Council of Jewish Women as president from 1932 to 1938. In this and her more local leadership roles, Brin focused her attention and energy on peace issues and on supporting world disarmament. Through her peace work, she became involved with the National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War (NCCCW) founded in 1926 by Carrie Chapman Catt, serving on the executive board for 15 years. She also helped found the World Affairs Council and Center at the University of Minnesota. In 1945, she was part of the U. S. delegation to the first United Nations Peace Conference held in San Francisco.
~Ruth Brin, Minneapolis, MN
A commitment to worldwide peace
In 1963, the Minneapolis section of the National Council of Jewish Women began furnishing a "Fanny Brin Room" in Jerusalem's Hebrew University High School. How did it happen that a group of women from Minnesota dedicated themselves to this project? And who was Fanny Brin?
Fanny Xeriffa Fligelman was born in 1884 in Romania. When she was three months old, her family immigrated to the United States, settling in a Romanian Jewish neighborhood in Minneapolis. After graduating from Minneapolis South High School and the University of Minnesota, Fanny embarked on a high school teaching career.
After her 1913 marriage to Arthur Brin, Fanny never again held a paying job. She devoted her life to her family and to the service of others. She was involved in woman suffrage, German-Jewish relief efforts, and aid to new immigrants, but her greatest contributions were in the advancement of world peace. Like many of her contemporaries, Brin believed that women's organizations could and should be a force for change. "Women can do a great deal to arouse the people to the gravity, the magnitude, and the urgency" of important causes, Brin said in 1941, in an address to the National Council of Jewish Women (an organization for which she served as president from 1932 to 1938). Over the course of her long life, Brin used her involvement in women's organizations, combined with her gifts as a public speaker and as a motivator of others, to further her cause, even in the darkest days of World War II.
The highlight of Fanny Brin's career as a peace activist came in March 1945 when she was appointed as a delegate to the United Nations Conference in San Francisco. Present at the signing of the UN Charter on June 26, 1945, Brin saw that her life's work, along with others' efforts, had made a difference. She had delivered speeches worldwide, had made radio addresses and written countless editorials, had spoken out against war, and had supported the Zionist movement. Still, she knew that, although the creation of the United Nations was a milestone, it was but a single step in a struggle that would continue long after she was gone. "We face a great task," she once said. "It is a long-term task. One which neither we nor our children, nor our children's children will complete. In the words of the Talmudic sage, 'It is not incumbent upon us to finish the work; neither is it permitted to us to desist from it.'"
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