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Jewish Education

Learned Women in Traditional Jewish Society

The long-standing idea that women are either not fit to be educated or do not need to be educated has deep roots in Jewish history. Beginning with the Hebrew Bible, the primacy of men is a given and women’s status is closely related to their childbearing function. There are, however, some exceptions. Both Deborah and Huldah were prophets and therefore presumably knowledgeable in the law. The matriarchs, although not equal to their husbands, displayed assertive behavior and did not hesitate to manipulate events to fit their own interpretations of God’s will.

Annie Edith Landau

Hannah Judith (Annie Edith) Landau was born on March 20, 1873, in London, where her father, Marcus Israel (Mordecai, 1837–1913), worked as a clerk for the Jewish community. Annie’s mother, Chaja Kohn (b. Bavaria, Germany 1853–d. 1923), was his second wife. He had five children by his first marriage and during the forty years of his marriage to Chaja a further thirteen were born. Of these, Annie was the eldest. Her parents were of the opinion that girls should receive as fine an education as boys, but there was no sufficiently good school for religious girls in London. Thus, at the recommendation of her mother’s uncle, Moses Weisknopf, she was sent to the Orthodox Samson Raphael Hirsch School in Frankfurt am Main, where her teacher was Mendel Hirsch (1833–1900), the son of Samson Raphael (1808–1888). Returning to London, she studied at Greystoke College, a teacher training institution. After completing her studies there in 1892, she took up a teaching position at the Jews Free School, which she held until 1898.

Sarah Kussy

Sarah Kussy was a versatile and accomplished leader of American Jewry who devoted her educational training and organizational skills to the community throughout her long life. She was a founder and leader of a constellation of significant Jewish organizations, including Hadassah and the United Synagogue Women’s League, both of which named her an honorary national vice president. Through her many associations, Kussy worked to change the face of Jewish education, Zionist activities, and women’s participation in Jewish American communal life. Her energy, erudition, and leadership inspired Jewish women and educators across North America.

Frances Krasnow

In 1917, Frances Krasnow graduated from Barnard College with a bachelor of science cum laude, from Columbia University with a master’s degree, and from the Teachers Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Krasnow would eventually receive recognition for being a pioneer in both science and Jewish education.

Julia Koschitzky

An activist, philanthropist, and leader of Canadian and world Jewry, Julia Koschitzky was born in Cardiff, Wales, the daughter of Max Podolski (b. Posen, now Poznan, 1904, d. Toronto, 1986) and Elli (Moses) Podolski (b. Berlin, 1908, d. Toronto, 2002).

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook

The basic approach of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook to women corresponds with his hierarchical approach to existence and to humankind (Yaron 1974; Bin Nun 1988): “I cannot make absolute divisions between entities, but only divisions according to rank” (Sarid 1998, 144).

Kolot: Center for Jewish Women's and Gender Studies

Kolot grew out of what had been the Jewish Women’s Study Project (JWSP) at The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC). From its inception in 1990, JWSP worked at RRC to include the field of women’s studies in the curriculum and to offer co-curricular programs that reflected women’s place in Judaism.

Kolech: Religious Women's Forum

In the twentieth century, with the establishment of new societal norms throughout the world, in Israel too many new opportunities became available to women—religious women included. The possibility of obtaining higher secular education in all disciplines, coupled with the almost unlimited prospects of advancing in one’s profession, only emphasized the limitations and barriers still barring religious women’s progress in religious society, which is typically patriarchal.

Rose Kohler

Rose Kohler was a multitalented woman who was known as an accomplished painter and sculptor. She was a teacher in, and later the chair of, the National Council of Jewish Women’s religious schools in Cincinnati, Ohio, and wrote many articles on art and religion.

Feiga Izrailevna Kogan

Feiga Izrailevna Kogan composed books of and about Russian poetry while harboring a love of Hebrew. Although her reputation is modest, she is known among aficionados of her teacher Vyacheslav Ivanovich Ivanov (1866–1949), who, together with Aleksandr Blok (1880–1921) and Andrey Bely (1880–1934), represented the leadership troika of the second wave of Russian Symbolism.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Education." (Viewed on December 13, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/jewish-education>.

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