Alice Shalvi

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Alice Shalvi (left)

Alice Hildegard Shalvi (Hebrew: אליס שלוי‎; née Margulies; born 16 October 1926) is an Israeli professor and educator. She plays a leading role in progressive Jewish education for girls and advancing the status of women.


She was born in Essen, Germany, to an Orthodox Jewish family. Her parents, Benzion and Perl Margulies, were religious Zionists.[1] Alice was the youngest of two children. The family had a wholesale linen and housewares business. In 1933, soon after Hitler's rise to power in Germany, the family home was searched, prompting their move to London in May 1934.[2] In London, Shalvi's father and brother imported watches and jewellery. When the Blitz began, they moved to Aylesbury, 50 kilometers north of London, and lived in a small house in Waddesdon, which was part of the estate of James Rothschild. The family built a factory there for ammunition calibration devices that established them financially.[2] In 1944, Shalvi studied English literature at Cambridge University. In 1946, she was sent to the Zionist Congress in Basel as a representative of British Jewish students.

In 1949, after completing a degree in social work at the London School of Economics, Shalvi immigrated to Israel, settling in Jerusalem.[2] She became a faculty member in the English department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and earned her PhD there in 1962.[3]

In May 1950 she met Moshe Shelkowitz (later Shalvi), a new immigrant from New York, whom she married in October of that year. They had six children: Joel (b. 1952), Micha (b. 1954), Ditza (b. 1957), Hephzibah (b. 1960), Benzion (b. 1963) and Pnina (Perl, b. 1967).[4] Moshe Shalvi died on 6 July 2013.[5]

Academic and public career[edit]

Shalvi headed the English literature departments at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She was the founder of Pelech, an experimental school for religious girls that unconventionally taught Talmud[6] (1975–1990), and of the Ohalim movement of neighbourhood associations (1973–1979); she was also founding director (later chairwoman) of the Israel Woman's Network (1984–2000). In the latter position, she was one of the most prominent feminist advocates in Israel, developing a program that covers most forms of discrimination and disadvantage faced by women in Israeli society. An important aim of her work was gaining acceptance of Israeli women's contributions in all sections and at all levels of the armed forces, since army service plays a significant role in Israeli economic, political, and social life. In the 1990s she founded the International Coalition for Agunah Rights.[7] She also served as rector of the Schechter Institute for four years.[2]

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • In 1989, Shalvi received the Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award, as founder of the Israel Women's Network.[8]
  • In 2007, she was awarded the Israel Prize for her lifetime achievement and special contribution to society and the State of Israel.[9]
  • In 2009, she was co-recipient (with Rabbi Arik Ascherman) of the Leibowitz Prize, named to commemorate Yeshayahu Leibowitz, presented by the Yesh Din human rights organisation for public activism in the spirit of Leibowitz's political and philosophical teaching.[10]
  • Shalvi sits on the board of The Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information.[11]

Published works[edit]

  • Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ One on One with Alice Shalvi, A Woman's Work
  2. ^ a b c d A soldier for sexual equality, Haaretz
  3. ^ "Alice Shalvi's CV on the Official Israel Prize website" (in Hebrew). 17 April 2007. Archived from the original on 27 June 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
  4. ^ Wishlah, Charlotte. "Alice Hildegard Shalvi". Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. Jewish Women's Archive. Archived from the original on 16 July 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
  5. ^ משה שלוי ז"ל Moshe Shalvi | Jerusalem Post, בית עלמין סנהדריה, הארץ, הקרן החדשה לישראל, שתיל, תיאטרון החאן | 07.07.13
  6. ^ Blum Leibowitz, Ruthie (19 April 2007). "One on One with Alice Shalvi: A woman's work". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
  7. ^ "An Interview With Alice and Moshe Shalvi". 16 April 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  8. ^ "List of recipients of the Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award on the Association of Human Rights in Israel website" (in Hebrew). Archived from the original on 19 August 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
  9. ^ "Judges decision for awarding the Israel Prize" (in Hebrew). 25 April 2007. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
  10. ^ "Announcement of award of Yeshayahu Leibowitz Prize 2009". Retrieved 20 June 2010.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Official Web Site". Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  12. ^ Encyclopedia sheds light on achievements of Jewish women