This Day in Jewish History 'Mademoiselle Rachel,' a French Drama Queen on and Off Stage, Is Born

Elisa-Rachel Felix, the daughter of French Jewish peddlers, defied society's expectations but won its love and respect regardless.

February 21, 1821, is the birthday of Elisa-Rachel Felix, who gained international fame as the actress “Mademoiselle Rachel.” As a performer who revived classical French tragedy in an era that favored Romanticism; as a Jew who remained proud of her origins; and as an independent woman who had lovers from high society – and children with some of them – but was never interested in marrying, Rachel was a legend in...