She Also Served: Bringing to Light the Contributions of the Canadian Jewish Servicewomen of World War II


  • Saundra Lipton



Writing on Jews in the Canadian forces focuses on the contributions of Jewish men with little or no acknowledgement of the service of Jewish women. Similarly, scholarship on Canadian women in the military forces of the Second World War is virtually silent on Jewish women’s contributions, and anthologies of servicewomen’s experiences rarely include the accounts of Jewish servicewomen. This article gives voice to the important role played by Jewish women in the Canadian Second World War forces and highlights how the military experience of these Jewish women was uniquely shaped by their gender and ethnicity.


Abey. M.E., “The Canadian Women’s Army Corps Overseas,” Historical Officer Canadian Military Headquarters Report, no. 120 (Ottawa: National Defence Headquarters 1944), 5-6.

Alan Davies, Antisemitism in Canada: History and Interpretation (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1992).

Allen Levine, Coming of Age: A History of the Jewish People of Manitoba (Winnipeg: Heartland Associates, 2009), 278-289.

Antoine Burgard and Rebecca Margolis, eds. “None is Too Many and Beyond: New Research on Canada and the Jews During the 1930s -1940s,” Special issue, Canadian Jewish Studies 24 (2016).

Barbara Dundas, A History of Women in the Canadian Military (Montreal: Art Global, 2000).

Barbara Winters, “The Wrens of the Second World War: Their Place in the History of Canadian Servicewomen,”in A Nation’s Navy: In Quest of Canadian Naval Identity, ed. Michael L. Hadley, Rob Huebert and Fred W. Crickland (Montreal: Mc-Gill-Queen’s University Press, 1995), 280-96.

Bill Boss, “Ottawa Man Assigns Duties to First C.W.A.C.’s in Italy,” The Ottawa Journal June 23, 1944, 2.

Canadian Jewish Review, August 13, 1943, 2-3,

Canadian Women and the Second World War (Ottawa: Canadian Historical Association, 1983),

Carolyn Gossage, Greatcoats and Glamour Boots: Canadian Women at War, 1939-1945 (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2001).

Cynthia Toman, An Officer and a Lady: Canadian Military Nursing and the Second World War (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007), 47.

Cyril Edel Leonoff, Pioneers, Pedlars and Prayer Shawls: The Jewish Communities in British Columbia and the Yukon (Victoria, BC: Sono Nis Press, 1978) 177.

David Rome, Clouds in the Thirties: On Antisemitism in Canada 1929-1939 (Montreal: Canadian Jewish Congress, 1977).

David Rome, ed., Canadian Jews in World War II, Part 2, Casualties(Montreal: Canadian Jewish Congress, 1947), 42.

David Rome, “Canada,” American Jewish Year Book 49 (1947-1948): 288.

Derek J. Penslar, Jews and the Military: A History (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2013), 208-209, 217. DOI:

Donna Zwicker, “Alberta Women Join Up,”in For King and Country: Alberta in the Second World War, ed. Kenneth W. Tingley (Edmonton, AB: Provincial Museum of Alberta, 1995), 89-106.

D’Ann Campbell, “Women in Uniform: The World War II Experiment,” Military Affairs 51, no. 3 (1987): 138. DOI:

Elise Corbet, Frontiers of Medicine: A History of Medical Education and Research at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta Press, 2000), 56-59.

Ellin Bessner, Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the Military, and World War II (Toronto: New Jewish Press, in press).

Emilie Anne Plows, “Serving Their Country: The Story of the Wrens, 1942-1946,” Canadian Military Journal 9, no. 2 (2000): 83-91,

Estelle Tritt-Aspler, “Estelle Tritt-Aspler,” in Rare Courage: Veterans of the Second World War Remember, eds. Rod Mickleburgh and Rudyard Griffiths (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2005), 172-79.

Esther Nobleman, “Memories of Medicine Hat,” The Scribe 14, no. 2 (1994): 39-40.

Ethel Allman, “Israel Miller and Daughter Ethel Allman: A Jewish Family’s Life as Alberta Pioneers,” Discovery: The Journal of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta 19, no. 1 (2009): 2,

Fred Gaffen, Forgotten Soldiers (Winnipeg: Canadian Defence Academy Press, 2008).

Freda Swedlove Lithwick Fonds, Ottawa Jewish Archives,

Free Press July 28, 2012,; Bordts, “Pearl Bordts Née Klenman,” 271-72.

Gerald Tulchinsky, “Into Battle,” in Canada’s Jews : A People’s Journey (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008), 376.

Gerald W. L. Nicholson, Canada’s Nursing Sisters (Toronto: Hakkert & Company, 1975).

Gerald, “Antisemitism from the Twenties to the Forties” in Branching Out: The Transformation of the Jewish Community (Toronto: Stoddard, 1998), 172-203.

Grace Poulin, “Invisible Women: WWII Aboriginal Servicewomen in Canada” (Master’s thesis, Trent University, 2006).

Ira Robinson, A History of Antisemitism in Canada (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2015).

Irving Abella and David Troper, None is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe 1933-1948 (Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1982), 264.

Irving Abella, “Antisemitism in Canada in the Interwar Years,” in The Jews of North America, ed. Moses Rischin (Detroit, Wayne State University Press, 1987), 235-46.

J.L. Granatstein, “Ethnic and Religious Enlistment in Canada During the Second World War,” Canadian Jewish Studies 21 (2013):174-80,

Jack Switzer, “Jewish Airwoman Dies in 1943 Alberta Air Crash,” Discovery: The Journal of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta 14, no. 2 (2004): 3.

James Dempsey, “Alberta’s Indians and the Second World War,” in For King and Country: Alberta in the Second World War, ed. Kenneth W. Tingley (Edmonton, AB: Provincial Museum of Alberta, 1995), 39-52.

Janet Davison, “We Shall Remember Canada’s Indians and World War Two,” (Master’s thesis, Trent University, 1992).

Janet Howarth, “Women at War,” in Oxford Companion to World War II, ed. I.C.B. Dear (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 1282.

Janice Tyrwhitt, “Alberta Women Went to War Too, Some Just Behind the Front Line,” in The War that United the Province, Alberta In the 20th Century: A Journalistic History of the Province, ed. Ted Byfield, vol. 8, Alberta in the 20th Century: A Journalistic History of the Province (Edmonton: United Western Communications, 2000), 136-57.

Jeffrey A. Keshen, “Women Warriors: ‘Exactly on a Par with the Men,’” in Saints, Sinners and Soldiers: Canada’s Second World War (Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 2004), 173-93.

Jerry Proc, “Gloucester,” Radio Comunications and Signals Intelligence in the Royal Canadian Navy.

Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta, “Southern Alberta Jewish Veterans of World War I & II,”

Jonathan V. Plaut, Jews of Windsor, 1790-1990 : A Historical Chronicle (Toronto, Ontario: Dundurn Group, 2007), 111.

Judith McKenzie, Pauline Jewett: A Passion for Canada (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999), 31.

Judy M. Iseke and Leisa A. Desmoulins, “Critical Events: Métis Servicewomen’s WWII Stories with Dorothy Chartrand,” Canadian Journal of Native Studies 33, no. 2 (2013): 29-54.

Julie Anne Redstone-Lewis, “The Creation of the Women’s Royal Candian Naval Service and its Role in Canadian Naval Intelligence and Communications, 1939-45” (Master’s thesis, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2007),

Laurel Halladay, “’Ladies and Gentlemen, Soldiers and Artists’: Canadian Military Entertainers, 1939-1946” (Master’s thesis, University of Calgary, 2000), 42-43,

Leslie Kinrys, “Remembering Women Vets,” The Canadian Jewish News, November 20, 2014,

Louis Rosenberg, “Special Supplement for Period 1951-54,” The Jewish Population of Canada: A Statistical Summary from 1851-1947 (Montreal: Canadian Jewish Congress, 1947).

Major William March, “RCAF Nursing Sisters,” Royal Canadian Air Force Journal 1, no. 2 (2012): 45,

Marjorie Wong, The Dragon and the Maple Leaf: Chinese Canadians in World War II (London, ON, Pirie Publishing, 1994).

Mark Celinscak, Distance from the Belsen Heap: Allied Forces and the Liberation of a Nazi Concentration Camp (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015), 193. DOI:

Martin Sugarman, Fighting Back: British Jewry’s Military Contribution in the Second World War (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2010).

Mary Kay O’Neil, The Unsung Psychoanalyst: The Quiet Influence of Ruth Easser (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 29. DOI:

Mary Kinnear, In Subordination: Professional Women, 1870-1970 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1995), 63.

Mathias Joost, “Racism and Enlistment: The Second World War Politics of the Royal Canadian Air Force,” Canadian Military History 21, no.1 (2012): 17-34 ,

Max Bookman, “Canadian Jews in Uniform,” in Canadian Jewish Reference Book and Directory, ed. Eli Gottesman (Montreal: Jewish Institute of Higher Research of the Central Rabbinical Seminary of Canada, 1963), 111-28.

Michael D. Stevenson, “The Mobilisation of Native Canadians During the Second World War,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 7, no. 1 (1996): 205-226, DOI:

Murial Stanley Venne, ed. Our Women in Uniform (Calgary, AB: Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, 2003).

Nathan M. Greenfield, “Standing in for a Man: The Wrens Freed Navy Men for Active Duty,” Maclean’s Magazine, August 26, 2002, 44.

No Greater Honour: A Record of Canadian Jewish Military Service, VHS (Toronto: Jewish War Veterans of Canada, 1987).

Noah Riseman, “The Rise of Indigenous Military History”, History Compass 12, no. 12 (2014): 901-11. DOI:

Norman Erwin, “The Holocaust, Canadian Jews and Canada’s “Good War” Against Nazism,” Canadian Jewish Studies 24 (2016): 114,

Ontario Jewish Archives, “Cornwall,” Ontario’s Small Jewish Communities,

P. Whitney Lackenbauer and Craig Leslie Mantle, eds., Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian Military: Historical Perspectives (Kingston, ON: Canadian Defence Academy Press, 2007).

Patricia Daine, “Doing Their Bit: Canada’s Air Women of the Second World War,” Atlantic Advocate, February 1984, 51-53.

Pearl Bordts, “Pearl Bordts née Klenman,” in Equal to the Challenge: An Anthology of Women’s Experiences During World War II, ed. Lisa Banister (Ottawa: Department of National Defence, 2001), 269-79.

Peter J. Usher, “Jews in the Royal Canadian Air Force, 1940-1945,” Canadian Jewish Studies 20 (2012): 93-114,

Peter Lorenz Neufeld, Mennonites at War, a Double-Edged Sword: Canadian Mennonites in World War Two (Deloraine, MB: DTS Publishing, 1997).

Richard Menkis, ““But You Can’t See the Fear That People Lived Through”: Canadian Jewish Chaplains and Canadian Encounters with Dutch Survivors, 1944-1945,” American Jewish Archives Journal 60, no. 1-2 (2008): 25-50,

Rosamond Greer, The Girls of the King’s Navy (Victoria, BC: Sono Nis Press, 1983).

Roy P. Toomey, “Canadian Indians Go to War,” in “Canadian Indians and the Second World War: The Pivotal Event of the 20th Century for Canadian Indians and the Canadian Indian Policy?” (Master’s thesis, University of Northern British Columbia, 2006), 21-51.

Ruth Roach Pierson, “Canadian Women and Canadian Mobilization During the Second World War,” International Review of Military History 51 (1982): 181-207.

Ruth Roach Pierson, ““Jill Canuck”: CWAC of All Trades, But No “Pistol Packing Momma’, “ Historical Papers 13, no. 1 (1978): 106-33. DOI:

Ruth Weber Russell, Proudly She Marched: Training Canada’s World War II Women in Waterloo Country, vol. 1, Canadian Women’s Army Corps, vol. 2, Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (Waterloo, ON: Canadian Federation of University Women, Kitchener Waterloo, 2006).

Saundra Lipton, “Jewish Women in the Canadian Military Forces of the Second World War,” (2017).

Scott Sheffield, “Fighting a White Man’s War? First Nations Participation in the Canadian War Effort, 1939-1945,” in Canada and the Second World War: Essays in Honour of Terry Copp, eds. Geoffrey Hayes, Mike Bechthold and Matt Symes (Waterloo, ON, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2012), 69-91.

Sharon Chisvin, ed. Women’s Voices: Personal Reflections, vol. 7, Jewish Life and Times (Winnipeg: Jewish Historical Society of Western Canada, 1990).

Simon Theobald, “A False Sense of Equality: The Black Canadian Experiences of the Second World War” (Master’s thesis, University of Ottawa, 2008),

Stories of the Jewish Military Veterans of Southern Alberta (Calgary: Jewish War Veterans of Canada, Post No. 2, Calgary, Alberta, 2001).

Stuart E. Rosenberg, “Jews in World War II,” in The Jewish Community in Canada, vol. 2, In the Midst of Freedom (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1971), 92-97.

Ted D. Regehr, “Lost Sons: The Canadian Mennonite Soldiers of World War II,” Mennonite Quarterly Review 66, no. 4 (1992): 461-80.

The Canadian Jewish War Memorial Book of Remembrance compiled by Oscar Adler and the Canadian Jewish War Memorial Association (Toronto: Canadian Jewish War Memorial Association, 2004).

Thomas M. Prynak, Maple Leaf and Trident: The Ukrainian Canadians During the Second World War, Studies in Ethnic and Immigration History (Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario, 1988).

Tyler Trafford, Memories on the March: Personal

Veteran Stories: Esther Mager, The Memory Project,

W. Hugh Conrod, Athene Goddess of War: The Canadian Women’s Army Corps, Their Story (Dartmouth, NS: Writing and Editorial Services, 1983).

W.P.J. Millar, “”We wanted our children should have it better’: Jewish Medical Students at the University of Toronto, 1910-51,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 11 no. 1 (2000): 112,

Weinfeld, Morton. “Louis Rosenberg and the Origins of the Socio-Demographic Study of Jews in Canada,” in Papers in Jewish Demography 1993, ed. Sergio DellaPergola and Judith Even (Jerusalem: The Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry, 1997), 43.

Wilfred Shuchat, The Gate of Heaven: The Story of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim of Montreal 1846-1996 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000), 139.

Willa Walker, Margaret Easton, and Adelaide Sinclair, “Canadian Women on Active Service,” Canadian Geographical Journal 27, no. 6 (1943): 264-93.

“Canada’s Jews at War,” in Branching Out: The Transformation of the Canadian Jewish Community (Toronto: Stoddart, 1998), 204-34.

“Goldie Katherine Lehmann (Margolis),” Winnipeg

“Happy Reunion as Kin Meet in London,” The YMHA Beacon, June 14, 1945, 7,

“Harry Vechsler Passes Away in 57th Year,” Canadian Jewish Chronicle, May 27, 1949, 2.

“Invisible Women: Aboriginal Servicewomen in Canada’s Second World War Military,” Chap. 6 in Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian Military: Historical Perspectives, ed. P. Whitney Lackenbauer and Craig Leslie Mantle (Kingston, ON: Canadian Defence Academy Press, 2007), 137-69.

“Jews in Uniform,” Jewish Western Bulletin, July 23, 1943, 2.

“Ladies or Loose Women: The Canadian Women’s Army Corps in World War II,” Atlantis: A Women’s Studies Journal 4, no. 2 (1979): 245-66.

“Memorial to Jewish Canadians,” Colborne Express, September 27, 1945, 2,

“Nominal List,” Cape Bretoners in World War Two,

“Not so Black and White: Black Canadians and the RCAF’s Recruiting Policy During the Second World War, “Canadian Military History 21, no. 1 (2015): 35-43,

“Our Jewish Veterans: Remembering Those Who Served,” Zikaron: Saint John Jewish Historical Museum 31, no. 2 (2015): 7.

“Removing the Stain: A Jewish Volunteer’s Perspective in World War Two,” Canadian Jewish Studies 23 (2015): 37-67,

“Ruth Florence Levi (Offstein),” Winnipeg Free Press, October 26, 2006.

“Social Notes-Montreal,” Canadian Jewish Review, August 6, 1943, 3,

“The Dark Years: 1930-45,” Chap. 8 in A Coat of Many Colours: Two Centuries of Jewish Life in Canada (Toronto: Key Porter Books, 1999), 179-207.

“The Problem of Religion in Canadian Forces Postings Liebmann vs the Minister of National Defence et al.,” Canadian Military History 19, no.4 (2010): 68-74,

“They’re Still Women A!er All”: The Second World War and Canadian Womanhood (Toronto: McLelland & Stewart, 1986).

“Trail Chapter Hadassah Has Active Season,” Jewish Western Bulletin, April 2, 1943, 3.


How to Cite

Lipton, S. (2017). She Also Served: Bringing to Light the Contributions of the Canadian Jewish Servicewomen of World War II. Canadian Jewish Studies / Études Juives Canadiennes, 25(1).



Articles / Articles