Jewish Life 2 min read

Honoring Lizzie Kander

By JCC Milwaukee May 26, 2024
collection of images including a kitchen scene a womans face and a building

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Black Kander z’l (May 28, 1858 – July 24, 1940) founded the Settlement House in Milwaukee which evolved to become today’s Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center.

Lizzie saw a need in her community to provide support and education for the large number of Eastern European Jewish immigrants that were arriving in Milwaukee in the late 1800s. While struggling to fund these resettlement efforts, she decided to create a cookbook based on the popularity of the cooking classes she taught for both children and adults at the Settlement. The Settlement House Cookbook, first published in 1901, became a national classic loved by generations of cooks. By the third edition, funds raised through sales of the book were used to not only fund activities of the Settlement House but also to provide scholarship funds for students and open a nursery school. Through 23 editions, profits from the cookbook funded increasingly newer and larger facilities, the Abraham Lincoln House in 1911, and the Jewish Community Center in 1931.

Lizzie’s impact on our city extended beyond both the Settlement House and her lifetime. A strong advocate of vocational education for women, she served on the Milwaukee Public School Board from 1907 to 1919, helping to establish the Girls Technical High School and the nursery school at Milwaukee Teachers College. During World War I, Lizzie headed the Food Conservation Committee of the Milwaukee County Council of Defense, and during the Great Depression she established The Lincoln House Food Exchange, one of the first food exchanges in the country. In 1939, Wisconsin honored her as one of the state’s outstanding women. Almost 100 years after Lizzie’s mission of service began, the Settlement Foundation turned the cookbook and its assets over to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation which continues to make in an impact in our city today.

The Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center is proud to continue Lizzie’s legacy of community service today through our mission: Creating spaces. Building opportunities. Inspiring Jewish moments for diverse communities. Each year in the spring, the Lizzie Kander Heart of Community Scholarship is awarded to a current high school senior who has been impacted by the programs of the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center. 

Read more about the history of our JCC.