May 27, 2021

Online exhibition honours the Second World War Jewish Servicewomen

She Also Served: Jewish Canadian Servicewomen in the Second World War
Esther Raber by Razieh Alba
Razieh Alba

During the Second World War 17,000 Jews enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces, proudly serving their country despite Canada’s restrictive immigration policy towards Jewish refugees. Of these 17,000, over 250 were women. The contributions of these Jewish servicewomen are little known.

In 2011, Saundra Lipton, a librarian at the University of Calgary who retired in 2019, began researching the stories of Jewish war veterans on behalf of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta. Surprised to find that these veterans included Jewish women, Lipton’s fascination with the untold military contributions of southern Alberta Jewish women soon had her expanding her search across the country.

“What bothered me was, that when I could find these women’s obituaries, very often there was no mention of their service,” says Lipton. “I think it’s important that people recognize the role women played in general, in the Canadian Armed Forces. There have been attempts to highlight the contributions of various ethnic groups, such as Indigenous women, but it is only in the last few years that there has been any writing focused on the stories of Canadian Jewish servicewomen.”

Lipton’s research led her to collaborate with Dr. Jennifer Eiserman, an associate professor in the Department of Art and Art History.

“I wanted to share the stories of these women with the public and I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed,” says Lipton. “Then Jennifer came along with her great ideas for the website and the art exhibition. I think it’s been a fantastic marriage.”

Together they established She Also Serves – a website that documents the names of 260 Jewish servicewomen and the stories to accompany 40 of these women. The latest addition to the website is an online exhibition, She Also Served, curated by Lipton and Dr. Eiseman.

Opened on May 3rd, She Also Served: Jewish Canadian Servicewomen in the Second World War presents nine original two-dimensional artworks inspired by the stories of these Jewish women. The exhibition features 9 artists from across Canada, including works by University of Calgary MFA alumni Beverley Tosh and current students Razieh Alba (MFA) and Jules Schacter (BFA). The artworks range from naturalistic to abstract, while some works use archival photographs, and other media include oil painting, digital prints, and paper cutting.

The opening of the online exhibition was timed to open during Jewish Heritage Month.