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Jewish Education

Hasidism

Hasidism—a spiritual revival movement associated with the founding figure of Israel Ba’al Shem Tov (Besht, c. 1700–1760), which began in Poland in the second half of the eighteenth century and became a mass movement of Eastern European Jewry by the early decades of the nineteenth—has been celebrated as nothing less than a “feminist” revolution in early modern Judaism. The first to depict it in this light was Samuel Abba Horodezky (1871–1957) who, in his four-volume Hebrew history of Hasidism, first published in 1923, claimed that “the Jewish woman was given complete equality in the emotional, mystical, religious life of Beshtian Hasidism” (vol. 4, 68). Horodezky’s account underlies virtually every subsequent treatment of the subject, whether in the popular, belletristic and semi-scholarly literature on the history of Hasidism, or in such works, mostly apologetic and uncritical, as have set out to discover and catalogue the achievements of prominent women throughout pre-modern Judaism. Notably, until relatively recently, Hasidic scholarship has totally ignored the subject, implicitly dismissing it as either marginal or insufficiently documented to permit serious consideration.

Hasidic Women in the United States

Hasidic women represent a unique face of American Judaism. As Hasidim—ultra-Orthodox Jews belonging to sectarian communities, worshiping and working as followers of specific rebbes—they are set apart from assimilated, mainstream American Jews. But as women in a subculture primarily defined by male religious studies, rituals, and legal obligations, they are also set apart from Hasidic men, whose recognizable styles of dress and yeshiva ingatherings have long presented a masculine standard for outsiders’ understanding of Hasidism.

Habsburg Monarchy: Nineteenth to Twentieth Centuries

The experience of Jewish women under the Habsburg Monarchy differed greatly according to the part of this large and extremely diverse country in which they lived. The Habsburg Monarchy was a dynastic state, whose territory had been acquired over many centuries and whose inhabitants spoke a wide array of languages, practiced many different religions, and constructed many different ethnic, national and cultural identities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Rebecca Gratz

Through the schools, philanthropic societies, and orphanages she established, Rebecca Gratz established a new model of religious education and made it possible for a new generation to identify as both fully Jewish and fully American.

Rivke Savich Golomb

“Golombism,” Rivke and Abraham Golomb’s ideology, came to the fore in Jewish education in Mexico with the founding of El Nuevo Colegio Israelita de Mexico I. L Peretz in 1950. The couple had many followers not only in Mexico but also in Europe, Israel and Canada. In 1946 they founded the Seminar le-Morim (Teachers’ Seminar) where they taught the first generations of teachers in Jewish education in Mexico. Rivke Golomb taught practical pedagogy and “geshikhte fun yidisher dertsiung” (History of Jewish Education).

Rose Goldstein

An early advocate of increased rights and responsibilities for women in Jewish life, Rose Goldstein was a prominent leader in the National Women’s League of the United Synagogue of America (now known as Women’s League for Conservative Judaism).

Elyse Goldstein

Rabbi Elyse Goldstein was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania and educated at Brandeis University (B.A. summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1978) and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (M.H.L. followed by ordination in 1983). As a student, she served at Beth Or, a synagogue for the deaf in the New York City area, and she remains committed to Jewish education for the deaf. Her first rabbinic positions were as assistant rabbi at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto and rabbi of Temple Beth David in Canton, Massachusetts. She is one of many Canadian Jewish professionals born and/or trained in the United States. In the somewhat more conservative Canadian Jewish community, where synagogue egalitarianism has developed much more slowly than in the United States, she has been a path breaker.

Temima Gezari

Artist and innovator in Jewish art education, Temima Gezari was born Fruma Nimtzowitz in Pinsk, Russia, on December 21, 1905.

Evelyn Garfiel

A successful psychologist who also devoted her life to religious education and leadership, Evelyn Garfiel offered generations of women a model for balancing academic pursuits and religious commitment.

Mamie Gamoran

When Mamie Goldsmith Gamoran graduated from the Teachers Institute Extension Course of the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1922, she was acutely aware of how much needed to be accomplished in the field of Jewish education. She was saddened that the youth of her generation had “forged new chains and ties,” thereby dismissing their heritage. As a proud American and ardent Zionist, Gamoran believed that one could synthesize American culture with one’s commitment to Judaism. Although born to parents who were not strongly affiliated Jews, Mamie Gamoran dedicated her life to the Jewish community.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Education." (Viewed on December 14, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/jewish-education>.

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