Straus, Rahel (born Goitein)

רחל שטראוס (נולדה גויטין)
Rahel (Rachel) Straus (née Goitein) was born on 21.3.1880 in Karlsruhe, Germany and died on 15.5.1963 in Jerusalem. She was the daughter of Henriette Ida Goitein, an elementary school teacher, who headed an orphanage in Bad Ems in 1901, and of the orthodox Rabbi Gabor Gedalya Goitein. Rahel attended a girl’s secondary school until 1893, after which she studied in the first German grammar school for girls in Karlsruhe, from which she graduated in 1899. Despite the negative attitude of some professors, she enrolled as the first female medical student at the University of Heidelberg, after having audited lectures in Old French and English. She became one of the first four female students to have fully matriculated at the University of Heidelberg. From 1901 on, she was active in the Association of Studying Women in Heidelberg. In 1905, she married Elias (Eli) Straus, a lawyer from Karlsruhe. She earned her doctorate in the year 1907, writing her dissertation on choriocarcinoma. She travelled to Palestine with her husband in 1907, after which they returned to Munich, where they had five children. Even with her family obligations, Rahel Straus did not abandon her career, but completed her medical internship and residency. In 1908, she opened a gynecological practice in Munich, becoming the first female doctor to have been trained at a German university. As a doctor, Rahel Straus fought for the abolition of §218 which criminalized the termination of pregnancy, was involved in social and educational issues, chaired the Association of Jewish Women for Palestine and was a member of the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO). In 1918, she participated in some committees of the Munich Soviet Republic. In 1932, at the request of Bertha Pappenheim, she took on a leading role in the Jüdischer Frauenbund (JFB), the Jewish Women’s League, which, among other activities, helped mothers with illegitimate children and victims of women’s trafficking. Her husband Eli died of cancer in 1933, and in the same year, Rahel Straus immigrated to Palestine with two school-aged children. There they experienced a difficult period of adjustment in the beginning. Rahel Straus continued to work as a doctor, although she was less active than she had been in Germany, as there was a large influx of doctors to Palestine at that time. Most of her efforts were devoted social activism revolving around social work. She was a member of the Brit Shalom movement, founded an employment office for housekeepers for WIZO, and organized cooking classes and the public kitchen for Hadassah between 1936 and 1940. She also established, together with the Jerusalem community committee a center for collecting used clothing and furniture and making it available to the needy called Beged Zol, or inexpensive clothing. Additionally, together with Malka and Dr. Abraham Spiegel, she co-founded AKIM, Israel’s National Organization for People with Intellectual Disabilities where she established a weaving workshop. Rahel headed the Golden Age Union for the elderly in Jerusalem and in 1952, founded the Israeli branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, of which she remained the honorary president until her death in 1963. The AKIM organization named its educational center after her.
Henriette Ida Goitein (born Löwenfeld), an elementary school teacher, who headed in 1901 an orphan's home in Bad Ems
Gabor Gedalya Goitein, an orthodox Rabbi (died in 1883)
Gertrud (Gittel) 'Gabor' Unna-Goitein
Emma Dessau-Goitein
Ernst Elija Goitein
Hermann Goitein
Beni Goitein
Age at Migration
Year of Migration
Archival Materials
Leo-Baeck-Insitute, New York