(1933 - )
Dianne Feinstein is an astute politician who has successfully climbed the
ladder of elective offices in San Francisco and California. She is the first
woman elected U.S. Senator from California, (1992), the first woman to be
elected president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, (1969), the first
woman to be mayor of San Francisco, (1978), the first woman to be considered for
selection as the vice-presidential candidate of a major political party, and the
first woman to be nominated as governor by a major party in California.
Dianne Feinstein was born on June 23, 1933, in San Francisco, the oldest of
three daughters of Betty and Leon Goldman. Her father was a nationally known
surgeon who was a professor at the University of California. She received a B.S.
degree in history in 1955 from Stanford University. While going to college, she
modeled clothes on television for her Uncle Morris Goldman, a clothing
Her first election campaign was at Stanford University when she ran for
vice-president of the student body. While attempting to give a speech at a
fraternity house, one of the hecklers picked her up and put her in the shower
and drenched her with water. She won the election and remembered the fraternity
by denying them a permit to hold an overnight football game party.
Feinstein began working in the district attorney's office and she met Jack
Berman, a prosecutor. After a short courtship, they were married on December 2,
1956. Three years later, they were divorced and she was left with her daughter,
Katherine Anne, born on July 31, 1957.
After deciding that politics was her forte, she was appointed by Governor
Brown to a membership on the Board of Trust of the California Institution for
Women which was later changed to California Women's Board of Terms and Parole,
which regulated the prison terms and parole conditions for women convicts.
She resigned from her position on the Board of Terms and Parole to spend more
time with her husband Bertram Feinstein, a neurosurgeon, and her daughter. In
1969, she was elected to the board of supervisors and receiving the highest vote
which automatically elected her to be president of the board for a two year
term. Feinstein held this position for a number of terms and on the morning of
November 27, 1978, she was planning to announce her retirement from political
life when she received the news that Mayor George Moscone had been fatally shot.
Feinstein immediately became the acting mayor. It was during this year that her
She finished her term as acting mayor and then won the election for mayor in
1979. The law allowed only two terms as mayor of San Francisco, Dianne Feinstein
left office in 1988. She married Richard C. Blum, an investment banker, on
January 20, 1980, who helped support her losing campaign for governor as
candidate of the Democratic Party.
Dianne Feinstein set her sights on winning the senate vacancy created when
Pete Wilson vacated this position to become governor of California. She easily
defeated John Seymour in a special election in 1992. Two years later, she edged
out Michael Huffington, a millionaire Republican congressman from Santa Barbara
for a full six year term. Feinstein was re-elected in 2012 with 62.5% of the vote.
Dianne Feinstein has demonstrated that Jewish women can achieve politically in
a male dominated sexist society if they work hard at it.
Sources: This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism
included in Jewish Heroes & Heroines of America : 150 True Stories of American Jewish Heroism, © 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.