Jewish Activism: Shoshana Cardin

Shoshana Cardin is a Jewish community leader, philanthropist, and activist, not only in Baltimore, but in the circles of many civil rights and feminist activists. She devoted her life to making her community a better place by focusing specifically on issues that were affecting women. Shoshana was the chair and co-founder of many organizations in Baltimore, with the goal of making Maryland a fairer and more equal state. She is well known to politicians, diplomats, and celebrities for her hard work and dedication to the Jewish community.





Shoshana was a big supporter of equal credit opportunity for women. She co-authored a pamphlet titled Women: Where Credit is Due, informing women of their right to seek credit without the support of their husbands. She testified in front of congress and played a major role in the passing of the Equal Opportunity Act preventing discrimination from credit on the basis of gender. She was a strong advocate for women in all kinds of social and political situations and from diverse backgrounds. She helped start House of Ruth, one of the first safe houses for battered women in Baltimore. House of Ruth was so successful at rehabilitating women that it became the blueprint for future women’s shelters in Maryland. During her lifetime she had many titles and was the head of many organizations. One of the most prominent organizations she was involved with was the Maryland Commission for Women. When she became chairwoman the organization was known as the Maryland Commission on the Status of Women. She changed the title stating that the status of women was already known and now it was time to work for women to improve their conditions. She was an influential feminist activist who also promoted Judaism and the importance of maintaining her religious beliefs.

Education & Leadership Positions

        Shoshana Cardin biggest contributions to education were work with the Council of Jewish Federations, Shoshana S. Cardin High, and the ACHARAI Fellows Program. Cardin was the Co-Founder and Chair of the Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish High School. The mission of the high school was to recognize and value pluralism within the Jewish community.  The institution was put in place to recognize Cardin’s values of education and leadership.  

        Shoshana Cardin became president of Maryland’s Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations, a position she used to foster awareness of racial inequality at a time, in 1960 and 1961, when the Jewish community was just getting involved with the civil rights movement.  She became the first woman to lead a major Jewish federation when she assumed the presidency of Baltimore’s Associated Jewish Charities in 1983.  In 1984, Cardin went on to be the first woman to preside over the national Council of Jewish Federations, the umbrella organization for the groups that raise money and coordinate social and educational services in 189 North American Jewish communities.

Another program Cardin was involved in, ACHARAI, also has to do with education and leadership.  This program was founded by The Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish Leadership Institute.  The objective of this program is to develop vision within the Jewish community and motivate future leaders by giving them the tools they need in order succeed.

In December 1990, she was elected to head the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a coalition of several dozen of the largest and most influential Jewish organizations whose role is to represent the Jewish community’s interests to the U.S. Government. She is the only woman to have held this role.





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