The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Stella Levy


by Esther Herlitz

Stella Levy, 1 July 1965. From The National Photo Collection of Israel.

In Brief

Stella Levy was born and raised in Haifa. Before she turned twenty she was already involved in the underground paramilitary organization Haganah and had volunteered for the British Army’s Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II. She joined the Women’s Corps of the Israel Defense Forces when it was formed in 1948 and completed the officers training course, allowing her to rise in the ranks during her years of service. She served as a company commander in Haifa, Chief Officer in the northern region, deputy commanding officer, and ultimately commanding officer of the Women’s Corps from 1964 to 1970. In the 1970s Levy became an attachée at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., and in 1981 she was elected to the Knesset. 


Born in Haifa in 1924, Stella Levy studied at the Reali High School and was active in the Haganah. In 1943 she enlisted in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) of the British Army, and when the Women’s Corps of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was established she participated in the first officers training course for women. She also completed the IDF’s only course for women battalion commanders, held at the Sarafand base in 1949. However, her lengthy service in the IDF was in the Women’s Corps. She was the only servicewoman to rise in rank from company commander in Haifa to Chief Officer in the northern region, then to deputy commanding officer of the Women’s Corps and finally, to its commanding officer, a position she occupied from 1964 to 1970, with the rank of colonel. In this capacity she headed both the Ma’abarot (transit camps) campaign for absorption of immigrants and the “Elimination of Illiteracy” campaign.

After her discharge from the IDF, Levy served as attachée at the Israel embassy in Washington, D.C., responsible for liaison with women’s organizations in the United States. In 1981 she was elected a member of the Lit. "assembly." The 120-member parliament of the State of Israel.Knesset for the Movement for Democratic Change (DASH).

Levy died in July 1999.


Have an update or correction? Let us know


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox

Read the latest from JWA from your inbox.

sign up now

How to cite this page

Herlitz, Esther. "Stella Levy." Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. 31 December 1999. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on September 24, 2023) <>.