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Rachel Josefowitz Siegel


1924 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Rachel Josefowitz Siegel Obituary
Rachel Josefowitz Siegel

1924 - 2016 Rachel Josefowitz Siegel, social worker and a foremother in the field of feminist therapy, died in Ithaca NY on February 21st, 2016. She was born in Berlin Germany in 1924. As anti-Semitism rose the family fled in 1930 to Switzerland and again to the United States in 1939. Rachel's ties to Brattleboro include her son, Hyam Siegel, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Never having attended high school, Rachel was admitted to Simmons College and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in 1944. That year she married Benjamin Siegel, who was completing a doctoral degree in physical chemistry at M.I.T . When Ben became a professor at Cornell University in 1949 they moved to Ithaca, where they lived for the rest of their lives. They spent sabbaticals in Paris, Jerusalem, Cambridge, U.K. and La Jolla. In Ithaca, Rachel volunteered as a tutor, served on the boards of several social service agencies, and was active in Hadassah and the Temple Beth-El community. After 25 years raising two sons and a daughter, she started her professional career. She earned a Master's Degree in Social Work from Syracuse University, worked as a social worker for local agencies and was a founding member and consultant to the Ithaca Task Force for Battered Women. She volunteered at Suicide Prevention as a support group leader and a Board member, and led a Hospice bereavement group. She entered private practice in 1976. Among many awards, Rachel received the National Association of Social Workers/New York State Chapter's Social Worker of the Year award in 1992 and the Laura Holmberg Award for Community Service in Ithaca in 2005. She maintained memberships in Hadassah, The National Association of Social Workers, and The Feminist Therapy Institute, of which she was a founding member. Rachel was active in the Association for Women in Psychology. A frequent presenter at their conferences, a 1995 issue of the journal Women in Therapy was dedicated to her. She received the Association's award for distinguished scholarship in 1994 and 2000, and the Doris Howard Lifetime Achievement award in 2005. Rachel travelled widely and often. She especially enjoyed European travels with her grandchildren. In 1999 she attended an international women's conference in Norway, accompanied by three of her teenaged grandchildren. An active feminist, Rachel's commitment to equity for women is reflected in the many books and articles she published. She was co-editor of Women Changing Therapy: New Assessments, Values, and Strategies in Feminist Therapy (1983), Jewish Women in Therapy: Seen but Not Heard (1991), and Jewish Mothers Tell Their Stories: Acts of Love and Courage (2000). In 2012 she wrote a personal memoir My Songs of Then and Now. Rachel conducted seminars and workshops on aging, Jewish women, and sexuality. Rachel is survived by her children, Hyam (Brattleboro), Charles (Vancouver, BC), Ruth (Chicago), her grandchildren: Brenda (Newfane) Sarah (Vancouver), Thomas (Durham ME), Anna Siegel (NYC), Matthew Padilla (Arkansas), and great grandchildren: Kaya Siegel, Jack & Audrey Maples (Putney); Ajna Siegel (Newfane); Rylan, Maxwell & Emmalene Siegel (Durham, ME). She is predeceased by parents, Frieda and Zachar Josefowitz, husband, Benjamin Siegel, siblings: Rose Choron, Samuel and David Josefowitz and Fenia Oren, and grandson, Johnathon Siegel.
Published in Brattleboro Reformer on Mar. 19, 2016
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