Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia


Shoshana Ornstein

1911 – 1998

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A dancing family: The twin dancers/choreographers Shoshana and Yehudit made up the celebrated Ornstein Sisters (Ha’ahayot Ornstein) duo. Many of their performances were of works choreographed by their mother, Margalit.

Institution: Dance Library of Israel, Tel Aviv

by Gaby Aldor

A dancer and choreographer born in Austria, Shoshana Ornstein came to Palestine in 1921 with her mother Margalit Ornstein and, together with her twin sister Yehudit, formed the celebrated Ornstein Sisters (Ha’ahayot Ornstein) duo. Shoshana studied with her mother and later at various schools, notably with Max Terpis in Berlin and Gertrud Bodenweiser in Vienna. In the 1950s she studied with Kurt Joos (1901–1979), Rosalia Chladek (1905–1995) and Mary Wigman (1886–1973). Her dances, created for her and for her sister by their mother or by themselves, were in the style and spirit of German “Free Dance” or Ausdruckstanz but influenced by their Mediterranean surroundings and their unique status as pioneers of a new secular culture in Erez Israel. Shoshana was the more temperamental of the famous duo, with natural exuberance and curiosity. She created full evening dances for the Children’s Theater that was affiliated with the Teachers’ Union. These included Papillon, a dance suite entitled Hagei Israel (Israeli Festivals) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to the music by Felix Mendelssohn. Together with Katia Michaeli, Elsa Dublon and Tille Roesler, she founded the Chamber Quartet. She also choreographed for kibbutz celebrations at Ma’abarot (1945) and Negba (1959).

Shoshana was one of the first students of Dr. Moshe Feldenkreis and incorporated his theories of improving movement abilities in her own teaching. She taught for sixty years, most of them at the Ornstein Studio at 42 Ahad Ha’am Street in Tel Aviv, which became one of the country’s most prominent schools. She continued working until late into her eighties.

In December 1939 Shoshana Ornstein married Hans Herbert Aldor (b. Vienna, 1907), an engineer who had immigrated in 1934 and who died in 1991. The couple had two daughters, Gaby Aldor, herself also a theater director, choreographer and actress, and Elda Gertner.

Shoshana Ornstein died in 1998.

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Shoshana Ornstein taught dance at the celebrated Ornstein Studio in Tel Aviv for sixty years, until her death in 1998.

Institution: Dance Library of Israel, Tel Aviv

How to cite this page

Aldor, Gaby. "Shoshana Ornstein." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 18, 2014) <>.