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Civil Service

Pauline Goldmark

Pauline Goldmark was a social worker and activist, part of a group of women seeking the vote and reforms of the urban and industrial excesses of the early twentieth century. A major method of social reformers was to investigate, accumulate facts, present these to the public and lawmakers, and assume that, once educated, the public and legislators would enact the desired changes. Goldmark pioneered in methods of social research central to these reform efforts.

Sylva Gelber

The first graduate of the Social Work School of the Va’ad Le’umi, now the Baerwald School of Social Work of the Hebrew University, Sylva Gelber was born into a Zionist family. Gelber embarked upon a career of distinguished public service.

Magdalen Flexner

A distinguished foreign service officer, Magdalen Flexner succeeded in crossing gender barriers to assume professional positions traditionally reserved for men. Living in a time of social restriction and limited opportunity for women, she defined herself as an independent woman, unfazed by the mold society dictated. Her ambition refused to deny her intelligence its full potential.

Dianne Feinstein

Political pioneer, tough leader, crime fighter, reformer: These are some of the words that describe Dianne Feinstein, former mayor of San Francisco and United States senator from California since 1992.

Ruth Lewis Farkas

The impressive and full life of Ruth Lewis Farkas spanned many occupations: educator, sociologist, businesswoman, philanthropist, inventor, wife, and mother. She was born on December 20, 1906, and raised in Manhattan, the fourth of Samuel Lewis and Jennie Bach’s five children. Farkas’s parents were in the real estate business, but Jennie Lewis also worked with the poor of Manhattan and occasionally allowed her young daughter to accompany her into tenements. She gave Ruth this advice: “No matter what your station in life, always try to contribute to those less fortunate.”

Tamar Eshel

Descended on her mother’s side from a family of Bilu settlers who had come to Palestine in 1882, Tamar Eshel was born in London on July 24, 1920. Her lawyer father, Ze’ev Shoham (b. 1886 in Kurosvany, Russia–d. 1971), had studied at the university in St. Petersburg, where he first met his future wife, Zilla Feinberg (b. 1894 in Jaffa Palestine, d. 1988), before World War I. After the issuing of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 Ze’ev Shoham went via Sweden to London, where he was a member of the World Zionist Executive. Zilla joined him there on completing her studies in agriculture at the University of Berlin and the couple married in 1919, returning to Palestine in 1921. Zilla became a citrus grower in her father’s groves, eventually serving as a leading member of the Association of Citrus Growers in Palestine. A son, David, who was born in 1923, died in 2005. Although Tamar was born in the United Kingdom, Israel’s Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett later had her registered as a native of Israel, since her parents had been abroad as emissaries of the “state-in-the-making.”

Ruth Dreifuss

An outspoken and strong feminist, Switzerland’s first Jewish member of the Federal Government and first woman president Ruth Dreifuss was born in St. Gall in Eastern Switzerland on January 9, 1940. Her father Sigi Dreifuss (1899–1956) was from Endingen (Canton of Aargau), one of the two villages of old Switzerland in which Jews could live before the emancipation in 1866. The Dreifuss family was among the oldest in Switzerland. Her mother’s family left Alsace (near Colmar) after the German annexation in 1871 and Ruth’s mother Jeanne Dreifuss-Bicard (1905–1962) was born in St. Gall. Ruth’s brother, Jean Jacques, born in 1936, was a professor of physiology in the faculty of medicine at the University of Geneva.

Rita Charmatz Davidson

Rita Charmatz Davidson led the vanguard for women in the state of Maryland, rising through the ranks of appointed local public service posts to the governor’s cabinet and seats on both of Maryland’s appellate courts.

Ruth Louisa Cohen

Ruth Cohen, Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge from 1954 until 1972, was the first Jewish Principal of an Oxbridge College, a distinguished agricultural economist and, after her retirement from college life, a dedicated local councillor.

Natalie Cohen

Because Natalie Cohen’s life met the very essence of the definition of the “Georgia Women Sports Trailblazers,” she was elected a charter member in 1996. Already a Hall of Famer, this crowning honor is only one of many received throughout her life recognizing Natalie Cohen as a woman who has made significant contributions to sports, forging paths for others to follow.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Civil Service." (Viewed on April 27, 2015) <http://jwa.org/topics/civil-service>.

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