Education: Jewish Education

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Paula Ackerman

Paula Ackerman

At the turn of the twentieth century, a young girl from Pensacola, Florida, named Paula Herskovitz dreamed of one day becoming a medical doctor. Believing that the medical profession was unsuitable for women, her father insisted that she abandon her dream. Yet decades later, she embarked upon a career he no doubt would have found equally unsuitable: she became a spiritual leader.

The Second Graduating Class of the Bais-Yaakov in Lodz, Poland, 1934

Agudat Israel: Interwar Poland

Agudat Israel, the world movement of orthodox Jewry, was founded in May 1912 at a conference held in Kattowitz, Upper Silesia (now Katowice, Poland). The movement’s founders, mostly from the separatist orthodox community of Frankfurt am Main, wanted to enlist the large masses of orthodox Jews in Eastern Europe and their spiritual leaders in the struggle against Zionism and other secular ideologies.

Mildred Elizabeth Levine Albert

“M.A.” and “The Mighty Atom,” as Mildred Albert was called, charmed the fashion world as an international fashion consultant, lecturer, columnist, and radio and television personality.

Anna Marks Allen

Anna Marks Allen was part of a group of Philadelphia Jewish women who established and ran the first independent Jewish charitable societies in the United States. At a time when congregational Jewish life was restricted to men, Jewish women of Allen’s social status increasingly turned towards philanthropy as a way to participate in the public life of the Jewish community.

Alliance Israelite Universelle, Teachers of

In 1860, six French Jewish intellectuals, inspired by the ideals of the Enlightenment and motivated by a genuine sentiment of solidarity, set out to “regenerate” the Jews of the world—vocationally, linguistically, morally and spiritually. By the eve of World War I, the international organization they founded, the Alliance Israélite Universelle, had attracted more than thirty thousand members.

American Jewish Congress

Women have played an important part in the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress) since the organization was first established after World War I.

The Women’s Mizrachi Federation in America, Detroit Meeting, circa 1960s

AMIT

Established in 1925 to create vocational schools for religious girls in Palestine, AMIT, an American-based religious Zionist organization, has helped shape the educational and social welfare landscape in the State of Israel for eight decades.

Students of the Mechona with Meyer Berlson in Buenos Aires, 1954

Argentina: Jewish Education

The Jews who arrived in Argentina in the first waves of immigration at the end of the nineteenth century were as concerned about their children’s education as about earning a livelihood and organizing their community.

A Moroccan-Born Mother with Two of her Argentine-Born Daughters, circa 1929

Argentina: Sephardic Women

The Sephardic communities that settled in Argentina in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries came from various areas in the Sephardi world.

Esther Abrahams

Australia: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Since the beginning of British colonialization of New South Wales in 1788, when between eight and fifteen Jews were among the convicts who arrived with the First Fleet, several waves of immigration have brought the Jewish population up to its present size.

Union of Hebrew Women for Equal Rights in Erez Israel

Sara Azaryahu

A teacher and women’s activist, Azaryahu was born in Dinaburg (Dvinsk, Daugavpils), Latvia, into a traditional-modern family.

Reem Sisodia

Baghdadi Jewish Women in India

The “Baghdadis,” referring to Jews coming mainly from Baghdad, Basra and Aleppo, but also from other Arabic speaking parts of the Ottoman Empire, arrived in India in the late eighteenth century and ultimately formed important diaspora trading communities in Bombay and Calcutta.

Re-dedication Ceremony of Sarah Schenirer's Gavestone, 2005

Bais Ya'akov Schools

Founded by Sarah Schenirer as a way of combating assimilation among her contemporaries, Bais Ya’akov is an Orthodox Jewish educational movement for girls and young women that began in Cracow, Poland in 1917 and spread rapidly throughout much of the Ashkenazic Jewish world.

Golde Bamber

Described as a stiff Victorian woman from an old Boston Jewish family, Golde Bamber applied her education and cultured upbringing to become one of Boston’s pioneer social reformers and educators among the city’s Eastern European immigrants.

Asnat Barazani

Asnat Barazani was a highly educated and respected Torah scholar in late 16th and early 17th century Kurdistan. After her father’s death, he passed leadership of his Yeshiva in Mosul to Asnat’s husband, but she essentially ran it, taking rabbinic students under her supervision.

Devorah Baron

Devorah Baron, who is considered to be the first female to write in Modern Hebrew, was born on December 4, 1887, in the small town of Uzda (50 km SSW of Minsk), where her father served as a rabbi. While a number of women had overcome the odds and written in Hebrew before her, Devorah Baron was the first woman to make a career for herself as a Hebrew writer.

Matilde Bassani Finzi

Matilde Bassani Finzi continued her activity in anti-fascist groups and, together with Giorgio Bassani, organized parlor meetings and helped distribute newspapers and newsletters. After Mussolini’s fall on July 25, 1943, Bassani Finzi was released together with all the political prisoners. Immediately upon her release she contacted the Resistance groups, who began to organize in case Germany should invade Italy, which it did on September 8, 1943. After the war she continued to work for the ideals in which she believed: freedom, democracy and equality for women.

Rose I. Bender

Rose I. Bender’s lifelong dedication to and support of a Jewish homeland began at an early age. She was taught the finest Talmudic traditions by her parents and was inspired by their love of Zion to become a guiding light for American Zionism and a Philadelphia Jewish community leader.

Camp Modin

Libbie Suchoff Berkson

“Hoy, hoy, Yefefia, bat harim Modinia.” “Aunt Libbie” Berkson, a pioneer of Jewish education, led this song every summer at the start of Friday night zemirot singing at Camp Modin for girls. Generations of campers who attended Camp Modin were influenced by her spirit and leadership.

Rayna Batya Berlin

Born into a family of distinguished lineage, whose members were the intellectual and spiritual leaders of Lithuanian Jewry, Rayna Batya Berlin, like the men in her family, viewed Torah she-bi-khetav: Lit. "the written Torah." The Bible; the Pentateuch; Tanakh (the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographia)Torah study as the loftiest means of worship of God.

Adele Bildersee

Adele Bildersee

A feminist before her time, Adele Bildersee was an advocate for women in education. She graduated with the first class of the then all-women’s Hunter College in 1903 and went on to help found Brooklyn College, serving as both its dean of students and its director of admissions.

Julienne Bloch

Julienne Bloch devoted her life to strengthening the commitment of French Jews both to Judaism as a religion and to their fellow Jews at home and abroad. As a journalist and an educator, she fought against the increasingly widespread assimilation, acculturation and secularization of the period following the emancipation of French Jews, and her writings paint a vivid picture of the tensions within the mid-nineteenth-century Franco-Jewish community. As one of the earliest published Jewish women writers in France she also contributed significantly to the creation of a public sphere for French Jewish women.

Rose Brenner

Rose Brenner

This statement by Rose Brenner, first formulated in 1921 at a board of managers meeting, embodied her philosophy during her tenure as president of the National Council Of Jewish Women (NCJW), from 1920 to 1926.

CAJE

In 1976, Cherie Koller-Fox and Jerry Benjamin, both students at the Harvard School of Education, called for and ultimately chaired a Jewish Students Network conference on Jewish education. Held in August 1976 at Brown University, it was called the “Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education” because, in Koller-Fox’s words, “the basic conference philosophy was to offer as many of the alternative approaches to teaching in one particular area as possible, and to communicate that there was a wide range of choices available in Jewish pedagogy.” The organizational name was changed to the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education in 1987, reflecting the evolving position of the group in the Jewish organization world.

Lorraine Weinrib, February 10-11, 2003

Canada: From Outlaw to Supreme Court Justice, 1738-2005

The positive aspect of the Canadian mosaic has been a strong Jewish community (and other communities) which nurtured traditional ethnic and religious values and benefited from the talent and energy of women and men restrained from participation in the broader society. The negative aspect has included considerable antisemitism and, especially for women, the sometimes stifling narrowness and conservatism of the community which inhibited creative and exceptional people from charting their own individual paths.

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