The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

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Sylvia Goulston Dreyfus

November 12, 1893–September 14, 1942

by Jack Nusan Porter

In Brief

Sylvia Goulston Dreyfus worked to improve Boston both through community activism and through her support of art and music. Along with being president of the Hecht Neighborhood House, she was trustee of the New England Conservatory, worked on the Berkshire Music Festival, and served as honorary chair of the Palestine Orchestra Fund.


Sylvia Goulston Dreyfus, born November 12, 1893, was a prominent community activist in Boston. She was president of the Hecht Neighborhood House, a community outreach center (modeled after Jane Addams’s Hull House in Chicago) that helped many Boston Jews and still exists to this day. She also was a trustee of the New England Conservatory of Music, sat on the advisory board of the Berkshire Music Festival, and was honorary chair of the Palestine Orchestra fund, an orchestra that later became the Israeli Philharmonic.

She was a friend of the famed Russian-American conductor Serge Koussevitzky, who from 1936 conducted Tanglewood’s renowned summer music concerts. Dreyfus wrote a reminiscence of their friendship called “Conversation with Koussevitzky.” She was also an accomplished bas-relief sculptor.

Sylvia Gouston Dreyfus died at age forty-nine in Boston on September 14, 1942. Her son, Carl Dreyfus of Brookline, Massachusetts, is also active in local communal affairs.


AJYB 45:384.

Dreyfus, Carl. Conversation with author, September 6, 1995.

Dreyfus, Sylvia Goulston. “Conversation with Koussevitzky”.

Obituary. NYTimes, September 15, 1942: 23:2.

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How to cite this page

Porter, Jack Nusan. "Sylvia Goulston Dreyfus." Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. 31 December 1999. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on May 19, 2022) <>.