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Shoshana Gershonowitz

1906 – 1986

by Esther Herlitz

Gershonowitz, who emigrated from Russia in 1925 and worked as a laboratory assistant at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was active in the Haganah in Jerusalem. One of the first sixty-six women to enlist in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service), she was among the first four to be commissioned as officers. In 1947 she established the Women’s Division and was then transferred to Tel Aviv, where she and Shurika Braverman of Kibbutz Shamir were charged with conscripting the first national Women’s Corps. She served as deputy to the corps’s first commanding officer, Mina Ben-Zvi. In 1950 she was appointed officer of the women serving in Nahal, and two years later became OC Women’s Corps, in charge of all the servicewomen in the IDF, no matter where or in which occupation they were serving. In this position she advocated for separate disciplinary procedures for women, as well as for the rights of servicewomen and an improvement in their status. She assisted Dr. Chaim Sheba in forming a course for nurses within the IDF, was active in establishing literacy courses and in finding housing for ex-servicewomen (the forerunner of the Advisory Center for Ex-servicepersonnel).

Herself subordinate to the head of manpower, she appointed women officers with the rank of colonel in every military command and in every branch of the IDF. These were professionally subordinate to the OC Women’s Corps, who coordinated their work with the various adjutants in every framework, who in turn supervised the women officers at every level; these adjutants had ranks ranging from second lieutenant to lieutenant-colonel.

On completing her service in 1959, Gershonowitz was sent to Washington, D.C., where she served for three and a half years as attachée for liaison with women’s organizations.

She died in 1986.

More on: Military

How to cite this page

Herlitz, Esther. "Shoshana Gershonowitz." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on October 24, 2014) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/gershonowitz-shoshana>.

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