Dora Askowith (August 30, 1884-1958) was a college professor, author and historian.[1]

Askowith was born in Kovno, Russia, to Jacob Baruch and Sarah Golde (née Arenovski) Askowith. The family emigrated to the United States not long after her birth and she spent her early years in the Boston area.

In 1908 she earned a B.A. from Barnard College. In 1909 she earned an M.A. and in 1915 a PhD, both from Columbia University.[1] Her doctoral dissertation was published as the book The Toleration and Persecution of the Jews in the Roman Empire: Part I: The Toleration of the Jews Under Julius Caesar and Augustus in 1915.[1][2] Askowith also studied at the Jewish Institute of Religion (now the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion) in the 1920s, though she did not complete the rabbinical program.[3][4] She later wrote, "I took the work at the Institute because of my deep interest in Judaica and Hebraica rather than because I sought to enter the ministry though I hoped to open the road for women who might be desirous of being ordained."[4] She believed that nothing in Judaism meant women could not be rabbis, as she had found in doing research for her student sermon, "The Woman in the Rabbinate".[5] In 1948 she asked Stephen Wise and Nelson Glueck, presidents of the Jewish Institute of Religion and Hebrew Union College respectively, if women could be ordained once their two schools merged, as they were then planning to do. She also wrote in the magazine Judaism on the matter.[5]

She taught various courses at Hunter College from 1912 until 1957.[6][7][8]

Askowith also helped found the Women’s Organization for the American Jewish Congress, and was its first national director.[1]

Her father, Jacob Baruch Askowith, is credited with developing the antecedent of the modern Flag of Israel.[9]


  • The toleration and persecution of the Jews in the Roman empire: Part I: The Toleration of the Jews Under Julius Caesar and Augustus (1915)
  • A Call to the Jewish Women of America (c. 1917)
  • Jewish Studies in Memory of Israel Abrahams [Askowith only wrote the chapter “Prolegomena: Legal Fictions or Evasions of the Law”] (1927)
  • God in Freedom: Studies in the Relations Between Church and State [Askowith only wrote the chapter "The Life and Work of Luigi Luzzatti"] (1930)
  • Three outstanding women, Mary Fels, Rebekah Kohut [and] Annie Nathan Meyer(1941)
  • The Purchase of Louisiana (1953)[1][2]