Congregation Etz Chaim of DuPage County

Sophie & Jack Edwards Scholar-In-Residence Fund

Sophie Steinman (1913-1985) was born to a Russian immigrant family. She was the second eldest and the first daughter. Her family struggled through the depression with a strong belief that education was important to get ahead. Their faith was strong. Her father read mostly Yiddish newspapers and books in addition to Hebrew and English books too. He was a self educated man. He had promised my mother that she would go to college, and had to break that promise in the depression so the boys could be educated. My mother vowed that if she had a daughter, she would be educated. My college fund was started the day I was born.
Sophie was very active in Jewish organizations. She spent her life in the local and regional Hadassah serving in many offices including president. The day my daughter was born, we became a three generation life member family of Hadassah. My mother was also active in B'nai Brith and the synagogue sisterhood. She served in both the reform and conservative congregations. Jewish life was very important to her.

When she was 70 years old she signed up for Hebrew classes. She spoke Yiddish and felt it was time to become fluent in Hebrew. She had spent years in bible studies. Jewish education was important to her.

Jack Edwards (1896-1978) was also born to an immigrant family. His mother was from Kiev and his father was a Litvak who practiced Judaism as an orthodox Jew. Jack belonged to the “Conserodox” synagogue in Gary. Services were long and in Hebrew. He went to daily minyans when he could. Being Jewish was important to Jack although his practice was varied. Jack was constantly reading and educating himself. He attended courses throughout his life. He was also an avid sports supporter. He would probably have liked to sponsor a Jewish sports team.

Because of their commitment to the Jewish community and their commitment to education, it seemed fitting to bring a scholar in residence program to the synagogue in their memories. The program was set up to further Jewish studies in religious areas for adults and confirmants in our congregation.