Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Shoshana Shoubin Cardin (1926-2018)
MSA SC 3520-14379


The Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish Community High School of Greater Baltimore epitomizes the life and accomplishments of Shoshana Cardin.  Although the school started out slowly with only a few students, it is quickly growing and becoming a strong school in the Baltimore area Jewish community.   The school, open to all of the varying Jewish traditions, prides itself on fostering the future Jewish leaders of the community and encouraging a strengthening of ties among Jews, both within Maryland and the world at large.  These goals have been espoused by Shoshana Cardin in her own philanthropic and community activism over the past five decades.  Her influence and tireless work in state and global activism has been of great importance to both Jews and non-Jews across the globe.  As she states, "I don't think everyone needs to assume the weight of the world's problems, but if we break the world's problems down to those within our own province, everyone can assume some responsibility to reduce the level of hostility, anger, and pain, and increase the level of understanding." 1  It is this philosophy that has enriched the efforts of Shoshana Cardin and that which will encourage the work of generations to come.

Shoshana Shoubin Cardin was born on October 10, 1926, in Tel Aviv, in what was then Palestine.  In 1927, her parents, Sraiah and Chana Shoubin, decided to immigrate to the United States, moving first to Rhode Island and then eventually to Baltimore, Maryland. 2  The roots of activism she would take up later in life were sown at an early age while growing up in a committed Zionist family.  She was an avid student and particularly enjoyed courses in Jewish and general studies.  In addition to her schooling, Cardin participated in various endeavors, such as raising money for the Jewish National Fund, giving political speeches, and serving as president of her Zionist youth group, Habonim.3  After graduating high school Cardin entered Johns Hopkins University, attending from 1942 to 1945.   She completed her BA at UCLA in 1946.  Cardin has a strong belief in the value of education and continued her own studies by earning an MA in planning and administration from Antioch University in 1979.4   She married Jerome Cardin, a prominent lawyer in the Baltimore area, in 1948 and had four children, Steven, Ilene, Nina, and Sandy.  Beginning in 1946, Cardin taught reading and English at Southern Junior-Senior High school in the Baltimore County school district.5  In 1950, however, she retired from teaching and focused her energies on raising her children, caring for her family, and initiating her volunteer efforts.

It was during this time that Cardin became involved in various groups within the community that promoted Jewish and women's causes.  She was a member of numerous boards of local nonprofit organziations, such as Maryland's Federation of Jewish Women's Organziations.  She served as president of this organization in 1960, 1961, and from 1965 to 1967. 6  In 1967 Cardin was given the honor of being elected to serve as a delegate from Baltimore County at the Maryland Constitutional Convention of 1967-1968.  She worked specifically on committees that addressed suffrage concerns.  After the Convention, she began serving on the board for the Maryland Commission on the Status of Women in 1968.  This commission was designed in 1965 to ascertain the opportunities available to women in various occupations and to work with government agencies to open up more fields to women.  A Baltimore Magazine article from 1978 explained Cardin's take on the importance of the commission: "We advocate action, not just research and study, says Mrs. Cardin, explaining that unlike some commissions--which serve only to study or recommend--her commission can develop coalitions and actively lobby for women's rights."7  Finding an area of work that appealed to her interests and recognizing the need for the improvement of women's opportunities, Cardin remained on the Commission and served as chairperson from 1975 to 1976 and again in 1979. 8   Women's issues became one of the foremost areas of service for Cardin, and remains a part of her activism today.  She was also an active participant in planning and events during the International Women's Year of 1975.  During this time she worked with the Commission to introduce various seminars and meetings designed to address and present information on women's health and legal concerns.  These seminars covered various topics important in the daily lives of women, including volunteerism, education, credit, employment, the Equal Rights Amendment, and rape.  Out of this Cardin realized the need for care and guidance for females, specifically those in poor domestic situations.  She convened the first state conference on battered women, which eventually led to the creation of the House of Ruth in Baltimore, a shelter for abused women.9   In addition, in 1974 she wrote a pamphlet, titled Women: Where Credit is Due, that advised women of their economic rights in terms of how to get credit and how to ensure fair credit laws. 10

In the late 1970s Shoshana Cardin focused her efforts onto Jewish causes.  She began advocating for heightened Jewish involvement, both within her Baltimore community and around the world, to foster a greater sense of world equality and peace; an endeavor much needed with the growing violence in the Middle East, especially Israel. 11  In 1984 she was elected as the first woman president of the Council of Jewish Federations, which oversees numerous local organizations that work to raise money for social and educational services.  With this position, Cardin became the first woman to lead a major national Jewish organization and served as its president until 1987. 12  From the 1980s to the present day, Cardin has been the only person to have ever chaired all four of the major national Jewish organizations: the Council of Jewish Federations, the National Council on Soviet Jewry, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, and the United Israel Appeal. 13  Through these prestigious positions, Cardin has been able to drastically and positively affect Jewish affairs on an international scale.  When asked to identify her biggest personal accomplishment, Cardin states, "the most significant accomplishment was to personally persuade former Soviet President Gorbachev in 1991 to condemn anti-Semitism and racism in a public statement and to remove such anti-social action from government policy." 14   The meeting was the first official meeting between the Soviet leader and leaders of the U.S. Jewish organizations.  In the late 1980s and early 1990s U.S. Jewish orgnaizations pressed for freer immigration of Jews from the Soviet Union and religious freedom within the country.  Cardin's meeting with Gorbachev was a monumental step in achieving these goals and promoting better conditions for Jews around the world. 15  Also in 1991, numerous members of the nation's Jewish community, Cardin included, were embroiled in a conflict with President George H.W. Bush over a U.S. loan guarantee to Israel.  Cardin became a highly publicized leader of the lobbying efforts both for American Jews and the government, who were in opposition to the President's efforts to prevent a loan to aid Israel.16  As with all her activism, Cardin continued with unceasing hope and energy to lobby for her cause.  Her children's recollections of growing up exemplify the fervor and dedication Cardin had for her work: "they each remember going to sleep as children, knowing that in the living room the statesman of Israel, the United States, Maryland and Baltimore would be meeting their parents, Shoshana and the late Jerome Cardin.  They also have memories of their home being turned into a letter stuffing or collation station for one of several causes." 17

Throughout the 1990s, Cardin continued to actively serve on boards of variuos Jewish organizations, including the Jewish National Fund and the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.  She was awarded numerous honorary degrees from universities around the globe.  These include: Doctor of Philosophy, Bar-Ilan University, Israel, 1993;  Doctor of Humane Letters, Hebrew College, Boston, 1993; Doctor of Humane Letters, Syracuse University, 1994; and Doctor of Humane Letters, Baltimore Hebrew University, 1996. 18  Shoshana Cardin has also received many awards over the course of her lifetime of service, including the Woman of the Year, B'nai B'rith Women, Maryland, 1967; the Certificate of Distinguished Citizenship, State of Maryland, 1969; the Certificate of Merit, U.S. Congress, 1979; Inductee into the Maryland Jewish Hall of Fame, Jewish Historical Society of Maryland, 1979; the Governor's Citation State of Maryland, 1982; the Na'Amat Golda Meir award, 1989; the Justice Louis D. Brandeis Award, National Zionist Organization of America, 1990; the Henrietta Szold Humanitarian Award, National Hadassah, 1994; and the Victorine Q. Adams Humanitarian Award, Fuel Fund of Maryland, 1995. 19   She has also been a member, and in many cases chair, of a variety of Maryland government committees which include: the Governor's Task Force on Title XX Planning, 1979-1980; the State Employment and Training Council, 1982 and 1983-1984; the Human Relations Commission, 1983; and the Governor's Volunteer Council, 1985-1986, 1988-1993. 20

In June 2001, plans to build the Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish Community High School were announced.  Cardin's name was elected to grace the school in commemoration to her lifetime of service to the Jewish community.  One of the individuals associated with the development of the school, board president Stewart Greenebaum, noted, "All too often, places and buildings are named because of financial contribution, which is important.  But in this instance, it is because of a lifelong love of Jewish education, and other contributions to Jewish causes.  I look forward to the days when students at the school will learn who Shoshana Cardin is.  She will be an inspiration for generations in the future." 21  The transdenominational school is gaining notice in the community and surrounding areas, and enrollment rates have increased each year since its 2003 opening.  Cardin explains that the importance of this school, both for her and to the community, lies in the fact that, "we are preparing the future leaders of the Jewish community--leaders both immersed in their own tradition and well prepared for the intellectual challenges of college and beyond.  Our students will know who they are, and just as importantly, they will be able to maintain the integrity of their own identities without losing their connection to others, even others whose beliefs are quite different from their own." 22

Shoshana Cardin's lifelong work in support of various community and worldwide organizations for the betterment of women and Jews is awe-inspiring.  Her continued efforts to lobby for education and peace have influenced many, including her own children who have entered fields that service and further their Jewish community.  The Associated, the Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, upon nominating Cardin for the prestigious Lion of Judah award, summed up her importance to the community and world by stating, "Using her leadership in creative ways to address community challenges and issues, Shoshana Cardin has displayed initiative in the areas of philanthropy and volunteerism and has set a standard for others in the community.  Serving as a mentor and role model, she provides other women with encouragement, motivation and opportunities to take leadership roles in philanthropy and Jewish community involvement." 23  It is clear to see between all of Cardin's accomplishments, awards, and honors why she will continue to be of utmost importance to the Baltimore and International communities.

Shoshana Cardin passed away on May 18, 2018, at the age of 91.


1.  Stegman, Carolyn. Women of Achievement in Maryland History (Maryland: Anaconda Press, 2002), 167.   return to text

2.  Levin, Steve. "U.S. Jews Called on to Emphasize their Identity," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7 November 2000.    return to text

3.  Segal, Sheila. Women of Valor: Stories of Great Jewish Women Who Helped Shape the Twentieth Century (New Jersey: Behrman House, Inc., 1996), 86.   return to text

4.  Jewish Women's Archive. "Shoshana Shoubin Cardin," Weaving Women's Words: Baltimore Stories, 2004. to text

5.  Blaney, Retta. "The 11 Most Powerful Women in the Baltimore Area (and 29 Other Heavy-Hitters)," Baltimore Magazine, December 1978.   return to text

6.  Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History: November 15, 1984," Jewish Women's Archive, 2004.        return to text

7.  Blaney.   return to text

8.  Hall of Records Commission. Maryland Manual Supplement 1975-76 (Baltimore, MD: John D. Lucas Printing Co., 1975).    return to text

9.  Stegman, 168.   return to text

10. Ibid.   return to text

11.  Seymour, Add. "Jewish Federation to Hear Leader in Social Justice Causes," Knoxville News-Sentinel, 16 January 1999.   return to text

12.  Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History: November 15, 1984," Jewish Women's Archive, 2004.        return to text

13.  Seymour.   return to text

14. Maryland Daily Record. "Shoshana Shoubin Cardin," Maryland Daily Record: Maryland's Top 100 Women, 2000. to text

15.  Hiatt, Fred. "Gorbachev, U.S. Jews Meet; Soviets 'Will Not Close Our Eyes to Antisemitism," The Washington Post, 3 October 1991.   return to text

16.  Segal, 90.   return to text

17.  Jacobs, Phil. "A Conversation with Shoshana Cardin, Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin and Ilene Vogelstein," Baltimore Jewish Times, 31 December 1999.
return to text

18.  Maryland Daily Record.   return to text

19.  "Shoshana Shoubin Cardin." Biography Resource Center, 2005, return to text

20.  Ibid.    return to text

21.  Jacobs, Phil. "New High School Named for Shoshana Cardin," Baltimore Jewish Times, 8 March 2002 to text

22.  Cardin, Shoshana S. "Unbounded Enthusiasm, Unbounded Challenges: On Founding a Transdenominational Jewish Day High School," Hebrew College Today, 2005. to text

23.  The Associated. "International Lion of Judah Conference," The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, 2004.   return to article

Biography written by 2005 summer intern Lauren Morton; updated May 2018.

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