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Rachel Ertel

Born on July 13, 1939 in Slonim, a city in Poland (between the two world wars), Rachel Ertel is unquestionably the most distinguished scholar of Yiddish culture in France. Yiddish culture filled her with pride from a very early age, and she has brilliantly strived since then to revive and keep it alive. She is the daughter of Riwa Mirski (1916–2001), a former student at the teacher-training school of Vilna, and the daughter of Moishe Waldman (1910–1996), a Yiddish poet. Riwa Mirski is better known as an author of novels and short stories under the pen name of Menuha Ram, an acronym of Rachel (her older daughter), Aron (her step-son, b. 1938) and Myriam (her younger daughter, b. 1949). Her best-known works are Vayter fun trakt (Further than thought), Le Vent qui passe (The passing wind, 1974) and Exils (Exiles, 1993).


On the island of Elephantine, opposite Aswan and just below the first cataract in Egypt, several hundred Aramaic papyri and ostraca were discovered between 1893 and 1910. Typically, some of the best finds were made on the antiquities market, and two archives of Jewish families from the fifth century b.c.e. were acquired by purchase. One was bought in 1897 by the American Egyptologist, Charles Edwin Wilbour (1833–1896), but was not published until 1953 by Emil Gottlieb Heinrich Kraeling; the other was acquired in 1904 by Sir Robert Ludwig Mond (1867–1938) and Lady William Cecil (Georgina Sophia Pakenham, 1827–1909) and by the Bodleian Library in Oxford and was published shortly thereafter (1906) by Archibald Henry Sayce (1845–1933) and Arthur Ernest Cowley (1861–1931). The Wilbour papyri, now in the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, contain the family archive of the Temple official Ananiah son of Azariah, covering a period of fifty years, namely, two generations (451–402 b.c.e.). The Mond-Cecil papyri are in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and together with the Bodleian papyrus constitute the archive of the woman Mibtahiah daughter of Mahseiah, spanning over sixty years and covering three generations (471–410 b.c.e.).

Ariel Durant

Ida Kaufman was a recalcitrant student, but after observing a Ferrer Modern School class meeting in Central Park, New York City, she immediately enrolled herself and promptly fell in love with her teacher, William Durant, thirteen years her senior. On October 31, 1913, at age fifteen, she roller-skated to her civil wedding ceremony at City Hall. Her new husband, a gentile, renamed her Ariel after the Shakespearean character.

Andrea Dworkin

“Every century, there are a handful of writers who help the human race to evolve. Andrea is one of them.” This encomium from Gloria Steinem may, however, be balanced against another comment, by the British critic John Berger, who maintained that Dworkin was “perhaps the worst misrepresented writer in the Western world.” Together, the two statements convey not only Dworkin’s brilliance but also the perhaps predictable antipathy, hostility and even ridicule evoked by the forceful and impassioned attacks on pornography and violence against women for which she became famous—or notorious.

Lily Edelman

A preeminent authority on adult education and multiculturalism, Lily Edelman spent her life encouraging others to read and think about people of different cultures and faiths. Through her writings, the reviews and anthologies she edited, and the adult education courses she taught and planned, she challenged individuals to examine both their own religious faith and society. Drawing upon her own heritage, she wrote a popular children’s book, The [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:410]Sukkah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] and the Big Wind (1956) about the Jewish holiday of Sukkoth, and Israel: New People in an Old Land (1958) was based on her many trips to Israel.

Tilly Edinger

Tilly Edinger made her mark as one of the leading vertebrate paleontologists of the twentieth century. Her pioneering work in paleoneurology, the study of fossil brains, established her international reputation as the outstanding woman in her field.

Sophia Dubnow-Erlich

Although the Jewish academic community has typically cast her as either the daughter of the historian Simon Dubnow or the wife of the Bundist leader Henryk Erlich, Sophia Dubnow-Erlich was in fact a poet, political activist, critic, translator, and memoirist in her own right. Her literary corpus tells the remarkable story of one Eastern European Jewish woman’s entry into two very disparate spheres of activity. Over a lifetime spanning 101 years (forty-four years spent in the United States), Dubnow-Erlich engaged in Jewish socialist party politics, on the one hand, and Russian Silver Age poetry, on the other.

Lucie Domeier

As a young woman Lucie Domeier (born Esther Gad) probably led a traditional Jewish life. Born in Breslau circa 1767, she married a merchant, Bernard, and bore two children—a son, Jonas, in c. 1791, and a daughter, Jeanette, in 1795. However, we soon find signs of her in the world of educated women, writers and philosophers.

Helene Deutsch

In 1923, Helene Deutsch became the first psychoanalyst to write a book about female psychology, called Psychoanalysis of the Sexual Functions of Women in English. Her interest in the subject, along with that of Karen Horney, helped to push her mentor Sigmund Freud, who did not like being left behind, into writing articles about female psychology. When Deutsch was completing her manuscript, she wrote to her husband, Felix, “It brings something new to this terra incognita in analysis—I believe, the first ray of light on the unappreciated female libido.” For her to draw attention to the female libido in that era was implicitly to amend Freud’s own outlook. At the same time, Deutsch was pioneering the importance of motherhood. Other psychoanalysts of the period, such as Otto Rank, Sandor Ferenczi, and Georg Groddeck, were also intrigued by the neglected role of mothering, but Deutsch was the one to insist on its special significance for female psychology. Although she always remained loyal to Freud’s conceptual framework, her writings were an outgrowth of her own personal experiences and insight.

Esther Dischereit

Esther Dischereit’s childhood and indeed her entire life were marked by her mother’s survival in hiding together with a daughter, born in 1937, from her first marriage. After the war, her mother married a German physician and had two daughters, of whom Esther, born in 1952 in Heppenheim in southern Hesse, was the younger. Her parents divorced when Esther was seven and the children lived with their mother, who saw to it that they were instructed in Jewish religion and customs. They attended Hebrew School at the Jewish Community in Darmstadt, participating in the Purim plays, and on Friday evenings an Orthodox rabbi came to their home. When Esther was fourteen her mother died and the children lived with the father and his new family, including a half-brother and half-sister, in a small town in northern Hesse. Esther developed rapidly. She completed gymnasium (high school) in record time and attended university briefly, “fleeing” from it because there were “too many superfluous words” (Gelebte Zeit…, 144). After getting a degree in education she wanted to become a teacher since “children are all that counted for me” (Übungen jüdisch…, 199). Her first book was a children’s book. But she had come of age with the rebellious generation of 1968 and had been active in the “red cells.” This precluded a career in a public school. She apprenticed as a typesetter and worked for several years in print shops, playing an active role in the trade union. She lives in Berlin with her two daughters and holds a position with the German Trade Union Federation.


How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Non-Fiction." (Viewed on December 1, 2015) <>.


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