Claire Rayner: Nursing for Jewish girls

Claire Rayner, who died on October 11 at the age of 79, was a well known agony aunt and writer. In December 1958, she wrote an article for the JC about her experiences of nursing as a Jewish girl:

By Jennifer Lipman, October 12, 2010
Claire Rayner as a nurse

Claire Rayner as a nurse

When I tell people that I am a nurse the usual response I get is: “How come a nice Yiddisher girl should be a nurse?” When I reply that I am a nurse because I enjoy nursing, they might say: “But it’s such hard work! And anyway, you don’t meet nice Jewish boys…”

Well I think it is about time this myth was exploded. Nursing is not especially hard work. I should imagine being a model involved much greater physical strain, and any housewife works much harder than a nurse. The hours on duty are reasonable – 44 per week – and off duty a nurse has a marvellous time.

She doesn’t have to clean her room, prepare her meals or wash up after them: her laundry id done for her, and she lives in surroundings comparable to a rather good private hotel. There are sitting-rooms, television-rooms, and tennis courts provided for her entertainment. There are frequent free theatre tickets, reduced prices at fashionable hairdressers, discounts in chemists’ shops – all sorts of things provided to make life easy for her...

...As for meeting nice Jewish boys, there is absolutely no reason why a girl should not meet eligible men, even if she is a nurse. Her hours of freedom can be spent among her own Jewish friends. I, for instance, meet hardly any Jewish people in the course of my work – but, despite that, I have as many Jewish friends as the next girl, and I have married a perfectly delightful Jewish man.

Last updated: 10:09am, October 12 2010