Illustration by Art Seiden

Florida Atlantic University Libraries

Jewish Heroes and Heroines in America

World War II to the Present:

A Judaica Collection Exhibit



Lydia Rapoport: Educational Leader In Social Work

by Seymour "Sy" Brody

Lydia Rapoport was a leading educator in developing social worker curriculum for colleges, examining and defining the necessary skills for the social work practitioner and educator and examining the theoretical basis for social casework.

She was born on March 8, 1923, in Vienna, Austria, the youngest of two children of Eugenia, nee Margolies, and Samuel Rapoport. Her father immigrated to New York City in 1928 and worked as a translator. The family remained in Vienna until 1932 so that her brother could finish his education. Lydia attended the New York City public school system and majored in sociology at Hunter College.

She was a brilliant student and she took accelerated programs at Smith College School for Social Work. She was twenty-one when she received her master's degree in 1944.

Rapoport accepted a position as a child guidance counselor at the Institute for Juvenile Research, in Chicago, Illinois. She then became the supervisor at the Children's Guidance Clinic at the Bobs Roberts Hospital of the University of Chicago. She continued to diversify her experience in this field and she became the supervisor of the Jewish Children's Bureau of the Michael Reese Hospital.

Lydia Rapoport was recognized for achievements when she won a Fulbright Fellowship in 1952. She went to study at the London School of Economics in England. It was here that she met Richard Titmuss, a leading architect of the national health service, and Dame Eileen Younghusband, an outstanding English social work scholar and educator. They both became her lifelong friends and advisors. In 1954, Rapoport returned to the United States and went to California to become the supervisor of the California State Mental Health Clinic for students of the School of Social Welfare at the University of California. She joined the faculty and by 1969, she became a full professor.

During her years of teaching, she was doing major research and writing. Her work as on the central concepts of personality stress, learning theories and the preventative orientation of public health rather than the medical model of treatment.

Lydia Rapoport was a major developer in helping to formulate a theoretical basis for defining consultation and supervision and distinct social work functions. She also defined and spelled out the role of the social worker as a consultant and supervisor in education and in social work practice.

In 1963, she became a visiting professor at the Baerwald School of Social Work of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. She helped to develop an undergraduate curriculum in the country's schools of social work. Her visit to Israel rekindled in her a close identity to her Jewish heritage.

In January, 1971, she went to New York to become the first United Nations Inter-Regional Adviser on Family Welfare and Family Planning. A few months later, she became ill and underwent emergency surgery. She died on September 6, 1971.

Lydia Rapoport's contribution to social work education made an impact on the country's schools in raising it to its highest level. Her refining and updating the thinking and curriculum in social work was her legacy to the American people. Lydia Rapoport: Educational Leader In Social Work Lydia Rapoport was a leading educator in developing social worker curriculum for colleges, examining and defining the necessary skills for the social work practitioner and educator and examining the theoretical basis for social casework.

She was born on March 8, 1923, in Vienna, Austria, the youngest of two children of Eugenia, nee Margolies, and Samuel Rapoport. Her father immigrated to New York City in 1928 and worked as a translator. The family remained in Vienna until 1932 so that her brother could finish his education. Lydia attended the New York City public school system and majored in sociology at Hunter College.

She was a brilliant student and she took accelerated programs at Smith College School for Social Work. She was twenty-one when she received her master's degree in 1944.

Rapoport accepted a position as a child guidance counselor at the Institute for Juvenile Research, in Chicago, Illinois. She then became the supervisor at the Children's Guidance Clinic at the Bobs Roberts Hospital of the University of Chicago. She continued to diversify her experience in this field and she became the supervisor of the Jewish Children's Bureau of the Michael Reese Hospital.

Lydia Rapoport was recognized for achievements when she won a Fulbright Fellowship in 1952. She went to study at the London School of Economics in England. It was here that she met Richard Titmuss, a leading architect of the national health service, and Dame Eileen Younghusband, an outstanding English social work scholar and educator. They both became her lifelong friends and advisors. In 1954, Rapoport returned to the United States and went to California to become the supervisor of the California State Mental Health Clinic for students of the School of Social Welfare at the University of California. She joined the faculty and by 1969, she became a full professor.

During her years of teaching, she was doing major research and writing. Her work as on the central concepts of personality stress, learning theories and the preventative orientation of public health rather than the medical model of treatment.

Lydia Rapoport was a major developer in helping to formulate a theoretical basis for defining consultation and supervision and distinct social work functions. She also defined and spelled out the role of the social worker as a consultant and supervisor in education and in social work practice.

In 1963, she became a visiting professor at the Baerwald School of Social Work of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. She helped to develop an undergraduate curriculum in the country's schools of social work. Her visit to Israel rekindled in her a close identity to her Jewish heritage.

In January, 1971, she went to New York to become the first United Nations Inter-Regional Adviser on Family Welfare and Family Planning. A few months later, she became ill and underwent emergency surgery. She died on September 6, 1971.

Lydia Rapoport's contribution to social work education made an impact on the country's schools in raising it to its highest level. Her refining and updating the thinking and curriculum in social work was her legacy to the American people.


This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.


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