Evelyn Garfiel

Evelyn Garfiel’s Jewish scholarship on topics like the prayer book and the Hebrew language helped make Jewish study accessible to the broader public. Garfiel earned a PhD in psychology from Columbia University and taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin, Madison throughout the 1920s and 1930s. In 1942 she returned to New York with her family, marking a shift from psychology to a focus on Jewish study and the Jewish community. She served on the boards of Hadassah and the United Synagogue’s Women’s League, wrote a variety of educational pamphlets for the league, and in 1954 introduced the first Torah study session at the Women’s League Biennial National Convention. She also began teaching at the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Women’s Institute with courses on Bible, liturgy, Hebrew, and Jewish thought. In 1958 she published The Service of the Heart, an exploration of the prayer book that explained the origins and purpose of different prayers and the structure of the service. She also published a book on Hebrew grammar and numerous articles. Towards the end of her life, Garfiel encouraged women to take on the traditionally male ritual obligation of praying with tallit and tefillin.


Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Date of Birth

New York, NY
United States

Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Evelyn Garfiel ." (Viewed on June 18, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/garfiel-evelyn>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox