Marilyn Paul

b. 1952

Marilyn Paul was born in Boston in 1952 and raised in Lexington, Massachusetts. She earned a Ph.D. in organization and management from Yale University and, in 1987, went to Israel for a post-doctoral fellowship at the Hebrew University. There, she was invited to run a management development program for health professionals in the Gaza Strip. In 2000, she was honored at the Jewish Women's Archive's Women Who Dared event in Boston, and in 2018, she was selected as a top 100 Leadership Speaker by Inc.com. She works as a consultant and coach and has taught at Yale and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the author of An Oasis in Time and It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys. She lives outside of Boston with her husband.  

Scope and Content Note

Marilyn speaks briefly about her childhood in Lexington, where she grew up in an assimilated family and did not develop a strong relationship with Judaism or Israel until her adulthood. She went to Israel in 1982 as part of a group called Volunteers for Israel, where she discovered an interest in the country. After graduating from her doctoral program in organizational management at Yale, she applied for a post-doctoral fellowship in Israel at the Hebrew University. After spending the first year in Israel for her postdoc, she got involved with public health work in Gaza. She describes the "fluky" encounter by which she found this work; she was drinking coffee at a hotel and overheard a group of people speaking in English about public health issues, so she went over and introduced herself. She began working on the project in 1988 and describes it as a "controversial" project that brought together Israelis and Palestinians for a management development program for health administration professionals. She recounts traveling to Gaza once a week from Jerusalem, where she had to travel in a convoy or U.N. vehicle. She discusses the gender dynamics of her work at that time and describes being seen as a separate category as an American woman with a Ph.D. She talks about the management culture in Gaza, which was bureaucratic and "not results-oriented," and describes the tension of working with Palestinians who were at risk of being viewed as traitors due to their collaboration with Israelis. The experience changed her perspective on the challenges of building a Palestinian state from a management culture standpoint. The next year, she was invited back to Gaza to address insufficiencies in emergency preparedness that were highlighted by the onset of the Gulf War. She then describes her imminent return to Israel; she plans to go with her husband, who does similar work, to do consulting for nonprofits. She discusses her other work, including her facilitation of an organizational learning effort called Dialogue. Finally, she describes her family's surprise at her connection with Israel and the differences she has noted between Israeli culture and American culture.  

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Marilyn Paul. Interviewed by Judith Rosenbaum . 27 July 2000. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 22, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/paul-marilyn>.

Oral History of Marilyn Paul by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.