Sylvia GoulstonDreyfus

1893 – 1942

by Jack Nusan Porter

Sylvia Goulston Dreyfus, born November 12, 1893, was a prominent community activist in Boston. She was president of the Hecht Neighborhood House, a community outreach center (modeled after Jane Addams’s Hull House in Chicago) that helped many Boston Jews and still exists to this day. She also was a trustee of the New England Conservatory of Music, sat on the advisory board of the Berkshire Music Festival, and was honorary chair of the Palestine Orchestra fund, an orchestra that later became the Israeli Philharmonic.

She was a friend of the famed Russian-American conductor Serge Koussevitzky, who from 1936 conducted Tanglewood’s renowned summer music concerts. Dreyfus wrote a reminiscence of their friendship called “Conversation with Koussevitzky.” She was also an accomplished bas-relief sculptor.

Sylvia Gouston Dreyfus died at age forty-nine in Boston on September 14, 1942. Her son, Carl Dreyfus of Brookline, Massachusetts, is also active in local communal affairs.


AJYB 45:384; Dreyfus, Carl. Conversation with author, September 6, 1995; Dreyfus, Sylvia Goulston. “Conversation with Koussevitzky”; Obituary. NYTimes, September 15, 1942: 23:2.

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How to cite this page

Porter, Jack Nusan. "Sylvia Goulston Dreyfus." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 27 February 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on January 28, 2020) <>.


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