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Civil Service

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.

Canada: From Outlaw to Supreme Court Justice, 1738-2005

The positive aspect of the Canadian mosaic has been a strong Jewish community (and other communities) which nurtured traditional ethnic and religious values and benefited from the talent and energy of women and men restrained from participation in the broader society. The negative aspect has included considerable antisemitism and, especially for women, the sometimes stifling narrowness and conservatism of the community which inhibited creative and exceptional people from charting their own individual paths.

Hortense Calisher

Hortense Calisher has been a significant presence in American letters for over forty years, producing novels, short stories, and memoirs of striking originality and intelligence.

Cécile Brunschvicg

Cécile Brunschvicg was one of the grandes dames of French feminism during the first half of the twentieth century and especially during the interwar years. Although her chief demand was women’s suffrage, she also focused on a range of practical reforms, including greater parity in women’s salaries, expanded educational opportunities for women, the elimination of prostitution and alcoholism, and the drive to reform the French civil code, which treated married women as if they were minors.

Barbara Boxer

Barbara Boxer is currently one of the most influential liberal political figures in the country, having served in the United States Senate since 1992. Her visibility especially flows out of her vocal commitment to feminist causes.

Helen Bentwich

Helen Caroline Bentwich (née Franklin) was born on January 6, 1892 in Notting Hill, London into a family of almost aristocratic Jewish lineage.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Civil Service." (Viewed on July 28, 2015) <http://jwa.org/topics/civil-service>.

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