Our inspiration is personal, like all good stories! Rebecca ‘Rayah’ Zeiger was one of the first women who graduated medical school in Russia. During the Russian Revolution, she was a doctor for the White Army and then fled in 1923 with her husband and immigrated to America. Once in New York, she learned English, passed her medical exams again and opened her own practice that thrived for over fifty years.
Rebecca ‘Rayah’ Zeiger, 1930
Anna Prozan Cohen, Rayah’s dear sister-law, immigrated to America alone at the age of 17 in 1904. She made her way as a seamstress and eventually brought the rest of her family over to New York. When she married, she was determined that her four children receive a college
Anna Prozan Cohen, 1912
Our ‘Mama’, Mildred Cohen Stern, was Anna’s oldest daughter who went to college, became a bookkeeper and then a high school math teacher at a time when women were not considered good with numbers. Rayah, without children of her own, became a beloved aunt to Mildred. Coming full circle, Rayah delivered Mildred’s children, including her daughter Barbara.
Mildred Cohen Stern, 1957
Professor Barbara Stern Burstin, along with her children, are dedicated to celebrating women who lead their lives with passion and purpose. At the Rayah Fund, we continue to carry on their tradition of independence, determination and breaking barriers.
Barbara with her four children, Andrea, Jeffrey, Debbie and Nancy, 1973
Barbara Stern Burstin with her daughter, Nancy, 1973