Elizabeth Strauss was born on October 12, 1910 in New York City, the second child of Harry Strauss and Therese Abraham Strauss. A few years after the birth of his daughter Harry Strauss died of typhoid fever, and Therese Strauss relocated with her children to her family home in Cincinnati, where the family resided with her parents, Victor and Emma Abraham. - Elizabeth Strauss attended the University of Cincinnati, where she majored in zoology. While continuing to study for her teacher's certificate, she met W. Gunther Plaut, a recent immigrant from Germany who was studying at the Hebrew Union College. They were married on November 10, 1938. - The following September the couple moved when Gunther Plaut became assistant rabbi of the Washington Boulevard Temple in Chicago. There Elizabeth Plaut started a Judaica shop in addition to her duties as rebbetzin. In 1942 the couple had a son. The family moved several times due to Gunther Plaut's various assignments as a chaplain in the U.S. Army during World War II. After a return to Chicago, where the family expanded to include a daughter, they moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, when Gunther Plaut became rabbi at the Mount Zion Hebrew Congregation. The family remained there for thirteen years. During this time Elizabeth Plaut was also very active as the rabbi's wife. In addition, in 1952 she created "Holiplay," a children's game about the Jewish holidays. Finally, the family made its last relocation when Gunther Plaut became rabbi for the Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, Ontario, a much larger congregation than that in St. Paul.