The Encyclopedia features over 1,700 biographies, 300 thematic essays, and 1,400 photographs and illustrations on a wide range of Jewish women through the centuries -- from Gertrude Berg to Gertrude Stein; Hannah Greenebaum Solomon to Hannah Arendt; the Biblical Ruth to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
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.
An avowed feminist and ardent defender of civil and human rights, Dalia Dorner (née Dolly Greenberg) was born in Turkey on March 3, 1934, and brought to Palestine in 1944. Her father, Levy Greenberg (1900–1944), a merchant who was born in Odessa, left Russia and at some time after the 1917 revolution immigrated to Istanbul. In 1928 he married Mina Markus (b. 1908), who was born in Turkey. A son, Edy, was born in 1937. When Levy Greenberg developed cancer, he hastened to bring the entire family to Palestine, where he died shortly afterwards.
The first OC Women’s Corps to be accorded the rank of brigadier general, Amira Dotan (née Mosseri), was born in Tel Aviv on July 28, 1947. Her father, Moshe Mosseri, who was born in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1920, was among the settlers of the Neve Zedek quarter in Tel Aviv. A member of the Haganah, he served as a supernumerary police officer and was a founding member of the Ha-Ma’avir bus cooperative. Her mother, Malka (née Raus, b. Tel Aviv, 1927), studied at the Talpiot Teachers Seminary and became a kindergarten teacher. Amira was the oldest of three children, the others being her sister Nurit (b. 1951) and her brother Rahamim (Rami, b. 1955).
Distinguished archaeologist Trude Dothan was born in Vienna in 1923. Her father, Leopold Krakauer (b. Vienna 1890, d. Jerusalem 1954), was an artist and architect, responsible for some of the finest Bauhaus-style buildings in Jerusalem’s Rehavia garden suburb and elsewhere. Her mother Grete (née Wolf, b. Vienna 1890, d. Jerusalem 1970) was an abstract painter. In 1924 they immigrated to Palestine, where their house in Jerusalem became a meeting place for local intellectuals and artists such as Else Lasker-Schüler and visitors from abroad, such as Stefan Zweig and Alma Mahler.
In her 1938 self-portrait, Stella Drabkin depicts herself with extraordinarily large eyes, widened to take in the world. Some thirty years later, in a haiku to accompany the multitype Birds of Prey, she wrote, “The eye of the eagle sees what you do not … aware as the artist.” The application of the artist’s eye was the constant in Stella Drabkin’s varied undertakings as painter, printmaker, mosaicist, and author.
Gusta Dawidson was born in 1917 in Cracow to an extremely religious family of Gur hasidim. She was a member of the B’nos Ya’akov youth movement of Agudat Israel. After graduating from the local school, she took supplementary courses at a school for foreign languages.
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.
Louise Dresser was a celebrated singer in vaudeville and musical comedy, as well as a star in early motion pictures. She adopted the stage name of Louise Dresser after the songwriter Paul Dresser, an acquaintance of her father, encouraged her to use his name as a strategy for her to gain greater recognition on stage. This ruse, along with several of Paul Dresser’s famous songs, indeed improved Dresser’s drawing power in vaudeville, and she was often believed to be the sister both of Paul Dresser and novelist Theodore Dreiser (Paul Dresser’s brother). Known largely for her rendition of Paul Dresser’s song “My Gal Sal,” she also sang his “On the Banks of the Wabash.”
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.
Drisha Institute for Jewish Education was founded in 1979 by Rabbi David Silber to provide women with the unprecedented opportunity to engage in the serious study of traditional Jewish texts. At the time, Silber was a lone pioneer, creating the world’s first model of advanced Jewish scholarship for women. Decades later, Drisha continues to hold a unique spot in the world of higher Jewish education for women, providing a learning environment that encourages seriousness of purpose, free inquiry, and respect for the texts of our tradition.
The explicitly sexual imagery and themes of Celia Dropkin’s poems redefined the ways modern Yiddish poetry could depict relationships between women and men. Beautifully crafted lyrics, Dropkin’s poems undo the poetic conventions implicit in their very forms and, with their anger and passion, call into question societal assumptions about love. These poems open up a woman’s psyche in a voice that sounds contemporary in the 1990s. Even her poems about depression, about mother love, and about nature are infused with erotic energy. Best known for her poetry, Dropkin also published short stories and was an accomplished visual artist.
Jacqueline Mary du Pré (“Jackie” to her family and friends) became known as an eminent cellist in August 1965, when she made her famous recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in e minor with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir John Barbirolli. Later described as one of “the greatest recordings of the century,” this was a breakthrough in her career. Although her repertoire was varied and impressive, she won an unsurpassed reputation as a great cellist particularly in this concerto, which meant so much to her and which she performed countless times during the years, always fully committed.
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.
Dulcea of Worms came from the elite leadership class of medieval German Jewry. She was the daughter of a cantor and the wife of a major rabbinic figure, Rabbi Eleazar ben Judah of Worms (1165–1230), also known as the Roke’ah (the Perfumer), after the title of one of his most famous works (Sefer ha-Roke’ah). Dulcea and her husband were members of a small pietistic circle of Jews, the Hasidei Ashkenaz, that developed following the devastations of the First Crusade of 1096. The documents of this movement include many mystical works, as well as a volume reflecting their ethical concerns, Sefer Hasidim (The Book of the Pious), an important historical source for everyday Jewish life in medieval Ashkenaz. R. Eleazar ben Judah may have written some of the passages in Sefer Hasidim, and could have been its editor.
A forceful and innovative Zionist leader, Rose Dunkelman came to prominence in Toronto during World War I because of her work for veterans, Jewish war orphans and the Red Cross. Born in Philadelphia to Harry and Dora (Belkin) Miller, at the age of twenty-one she married David Dunkelman (1880–1978), who became one of Canada’s most successful industrialists and retailers. For a short time, she participated in his business activities, chiefly the Associated Clothing Manufacturers and Tip Top Tailors, a chain of stores selling moderately priced clothing across Canada.
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.
A lightning rod for controversy, American feminist Andrea Dworkin denounced violence against women, advocated women’s self-defense, and drafted groundbreaking legislation claiming that pornography violated women’s civil rights. In 1974, Dworkin and Ricki Abrams co-wrote Woman Hating in which they charged that pornography incited violence towards women and that consensual sex subjugated women.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Encyclopedia." (Viewed on February 17, 2019) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/content/D>.