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Wellesley Jewish History

Wellesley Jewish History

Join the Wellesley Jewish Alumnae Association for an exciting event. 

Cynthia Francis Gensheimer and Kathryn Hellerstein will discuss their research on a Jewish student's experience at Wellesley at the very beginning of the 20th century. Their article, "No Better Education: Helen Solomon at Wellesley College,1901–1902" can be found in the journal American Jewish History and is available for download here. The authors will speak about their research, and then we will open discussion. 

After the event, there will be time to share our thoughts and have open conversation among alumnae.

This event takes place during Reunion weekend, but all alums are invited to attend whether or not it is your reunion year. 

Download Pre-reading text

Sunday, June 6, 2021

1pm EDT


Recording Can be Found Below

For questions email

for more information on all reunion events:


More about the speakers:

Kathryn Hellerstein is Professor of Yiddish and Director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a poet, translator, and scholar. The granddaughter and daughter of Smith College graduates (1914 and 1943), she attended Wellesley for two years, then graduated from Brandeis (class of 1974), did her doctorate at Stanford, and taught in Wellesley’s Department of English in the 1980s.

Her books of translations are:
In New York: A Selection (Moyshe Leyb Halpern) and Paper Bridges: Selected Poems of Kadya Molodowsky. Her scholarly monograph, A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish, 1586-1987 won the 2014 National Jewish Book Award in Women’s Studies and the 2015 Modern Language Association Fenia and Yaacov Leviant Memorial Prize in Yiddish Studies.  A co-editor of Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology, Hellerstein has translated and edited a new and forthcoming collection, Women Yiddish Poets: Anthology.
Hellerstein’s current projects include China through Yiddish Eyes: Cultural Translation in the Twentieth Century; The Rosewaters and the Colmans: Jewish Identity in Two Cleveland Jewish Families (1840-1915); and Jewish Women Poets as Translators: Changing Liturgy and Canon.


Cynthia Francis Gensheimer is an economist who writes about nineteenth-century Midwestern American Jewish history. She has a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, and is a former professor at Vassar College and Vice President of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Today, she studies Jewish women who lived in small towns, focusing on their education, their benevolent work, and their roles as leaders within the Jewish community and beyond.  

Selected Publications :

  • “Annie Jonas Wells: Jewish Daughter, Episcopal Wife, Independent Intellectual,” American Jewish History, Vol. 98, No. 3, July 2014, 83-125.
  • “Heimat and Home: Mobility Among Jews in Quincy, Illinois,” (with Anton Hieke), American Jewish History, Vol. 102, Issue 2, 2018.
  • “‘No Better Education’: Helen Solomon at Wellesley College, 1901-1902,” (with Kathryn Hellerstein), American Jewish History, Vol. 104, Numbers 2/3, April/July 2020, 397-422.
  • “The Levy Family and Ongoing Ties Between Branches in Hechingen and Quincy, Illinois,” Gedenkstätten-Rundschau, Special Issue, Junie 2020, 26-33.
  • “Inching Toward Women’s Equality: Tentative Steps in Three Small Jewish Communities,” (with David A. Frolick), American Jewish Archives Journal, Vol. 72, Nos. 1 & 2, 2020.
  • The Adventures of Rosie Spiesberger; Cynthia Francis Gensheimer and Merilyn Berenbom.  A children’s book based on letters written during the 1890s to the Younkers of Keokuk, Iowa. This large collection of correspondence offers a rare inside look at the everyday lives of American-born Jewish children in the Midwest.