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Civil Service

Anna Weiner Hochfelder

Anna Weiner Hochfelder, daughter of Herman and Henrietta (LaFrantz) Weiner, was born in Lask, Poland, on May 1, 1883, and came to the United States in 1885. She had at least three sisters and one brother. Educated in New York public schools, she earned a B.A. from Hunter College (1903) and an LL.B. (1908) and J.D. (1915) from New York University.

Esther Herlitz

A staunch Zionist and dedicated volunteer, born in Berlin on October 9, 1921, Esther Herlitz inherited many of her admirable traits from her beloved “Yekke” parents. Her father, Georg Herlitz (1885–1968), was born in Oppeln, a small town in Upper Silesia, into a totally assimilated Jewish family and received a typical Prussian education. However, since his parents could not afford to send him to university, he registered—with the help of the local rabbi—at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin, a center for the scientific study of Judaism and a rabbinical seminary. Here the liberal Jewish administration awarded him a stipend and here, also, both his studies and the Zionist movement introduced him to a new world. Returning home, he led the first [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:377]Passover[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:391]seder[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] ever held in the history of the family and when he resumed studies, this time at the University of Berlin, he became an ardent Zionist activist. On completing his studies in 1919, he refused to become a rabbi and instead founded the Central Zionist Archive. When the Zionist Federation, which was interested in influencing the local Jewish community, asked him to infiltrate the city’s large 3,500-member Reform synagogue, Herlitz and his friends took on the role of wardens and replaced the rabbi with one who was a Zionist. His wife, Irma (née Herzka, 1888–1970), who came from a traditional home in Moravia and whose father was a melamed (teacher) of little children, hated what she perceived as the empty ceremonial of the Reform Jews, but Esther herself came to love it.

Frieda Barkin Hennock

Frieda Barkin Hennock was the first woman to serve on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), where she became the champion of noncommercial educational television. As a Jewish female of foreign birth, she endured a lifetime of undeserved—largely sexist—attacks for everything from excessive aggressiveness to innuendoes of immoral personal conduct. At the same time, she did not hesitate to take advantage of her sparkling feminine charm, sense of high fashion, and occasional flood of tears to manipulate a male-dominated society. As a committed Jew, Hennock also used her contacts with the Jewish community for professional advancement. She said daily prayers and was fluent in Yiddish. She was a devoted and supportive member of her extended family.

Hattie Leah Henenberg

Born on a farm in Ennis, Texas, on February 16, 1893, Hattie Henenberg was the second child of Hungarian-born Rosa (Trebitsch) and Samuel Henenberg, parents of four daughters and two sons. The family moved to nearby Dallas in 1904 to help her ailing paternal grandfather, Lazar, owner of Dallas’s oldest pawn and jewelry shop. Henenberg took night classes from 1913 to 1916 at Dallas Law School, part of Southern Methodist University. She was assistant Texas attorney general from 1929 to 1930; special assistant U.S. attorney general in Washington in 1934, and an assistant district attorney in Dallas from 1941 to 1947. In addition, Henenberg was a delegate to the 1932 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, a member of the Order of Eastern Star, Business and Professional Women’s Club, Temple Emanu-El, and Dallas president of Zonta International. The ideals of social justice that permeated her quest for legal aid to the poor reflected the principles of Judaism. Judaism also manifested itself through her decision not to marry a non-Jew and through religious observances such as not eating pork.

Zena Harman

Born and educated in London, Zena (née Stern) completed a B.Sc. Econ. in international law and relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1935. During her university years she met Abba Eban from Cambridge and her future husband, Avraham (Abe) Harman from Oxford—both ardent Zionists who tried to draw the young student from an assimilationist background into their activist circle. Although her relationship with Abe developed, Zena remained unconvinced. Upon graduation she started a career in advertising with Unilever. However, when the situation of Jews in Europe deteriorated, she decided to take up a position with the Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls, Women and Children, where she gained her first experience in social work (supplemented by studies in sociology at Morley College). Abe, in the meantime, had immigrated to Palestine and started work in the political division of the Jewish Agency, before being dispatched to South Africa as an emissary of the fledgling Zionist movement.

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.”

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Civil Service." (Viewed on August 3, 2015) <http://jwa.org/topics/civil-service>.

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