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Jewish Education

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Stern College for Women

Founded in 1954, Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University is the longest-standing college in America for women under Jewish auspices. It has attracted young women from both Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jewish homes interested both in secular university training and high-level Jewish studies. 

Sisterhoods of Personal Service in the United States

Sisterhoods of Personal Service coordinated the philanthropic work of synagogue sisterhoods across New York City and the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, assisting a considerable number of immigrants through a variety of financial, vocational, educational, and social programs.

Bertha Singer Schoolman

Bertha Singer Schoolman gave a lifetime of service to the betterment of Jewish education and the cause of Youth Aliyah, the movement to bring Jewish youth out of Germany to live in children’s villages in Israel. Schoolman risked her life under fire to help bring convoys to and from kibbutzim.

Gladys Rosen

Gladys Rosen created resources that changed how people approached Jewish history. As program specialist for the American Jewish Committee, she published Guidelines to Jewish History and Social Studies Instructional Materials, which offered summaries of Jewish history and resources for teaching Judaic studies. She went on to coedit a number of books on Jewish culture and history and was an interviewer on the radio program, Jewish Viewpoint.

Nacha Rivkin

Orthodox Jewish education for women in America began with the work of Nacha Rivkin, a founder of Shulamith School for Girls, the first girls’ yeshiva in the United States. A courageous and proficient “doer,” Rivkin broke out of the mold of the passive, religious homemaker in her commitment to action. Through her music and artwork, she expanded the range of career possibilities for Orthodox women of her time.

Betty Robbins

Betty Robbins is often heralded as the first female cantor – in fact, that honor goes to Julie Rosewald. However, Robbins was the first woman to be officially designated as cantor. The Board of Trustees at Temple Avodah in Oceanside, New York unanimously appointed Robbins as their cantor in 1955.

Julia Richman

A polarizing and important social reformer, Julia Richman sought to better manage the massive influx of immigrants in New York by Americanizing the new arrivals as quickly as possible, particularly through intense training in English. An educator who eventually became district superintendent of the Lower East Side schools in 1903, she created playgrounds, improved school lunches, and enforced health examinations for students.

Orthodox Judaism in the United States

Orthodox views on the roles women may play in their communities’ religious, educational, and social life have reflected the range of attitudes that religious group has harbored toward American society. Generally, those Orthodox Jews who have resisted American culture have not countenanced the active participation of women within the synagogue. For other Orthodox Jews, the opening of synagogue life to greater women’s participation, within what they see as the expansive boundaries of halakhah, is but another dimension of their accommodating approach to their encounter with America. 

National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods

Founded in 1913 as the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods and officially renamed Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) in 1993, the WRJ has for more than a century galvanized hundreds of thousands of Jewish women to support and advance Reform Judaism, the Jewish people, and Jewish values in their home communities, around the country, and around the world.


The communal culture developed by Mexican Jewry emphasized unity, harmony, and consensus regarding groups, politics, and gender. Mexican-Jewish women participated widely in and contributed to the vibrant community’s cultural, artistic, social, and educational endeavors. They continue to redefine their role in Jewish community spaces amidst the new organizations, profiles, and activities of the twenty-first century.

Florence Zacks Melton

A philanthropist and visionary innovator and a lay leader for over fifty years, Florence Zacks Melton helped build institutions that improved the quality and broadened the scope of Jewish education throughout North America.

Hadassah in the United States

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, has been the largest Zionist organization in the world, one of the largest American women’s volunteer organizations, American Jews’ largest mass-membership organization, and probably the most active Jewish women’s organization ever.

Vele Rabinowitz Zabludowsky

Vele Rabinowitz Zabludovsky was a transnational Yiddish and Hebrew teacher who dedicated her life’s work to teaching and the preservation of Yiddish culture and language. She spent over fifty years teaching Yiddish language and culture in Mexico.

Trude Weiss-Rosmarin

Trude Weiss-Rosmarin made great advances for women’s involvement in Jewish life through the schools she created and her editorship of the Jewish Spectator. A dynamic speaker backed by broad-ranging Jewish scholarship and a prodigious memory, she was a popular lecturer at synagogues and Jewish centers across the United States and a foremost critic of American Jewish life and institutions.

Dora Spiegel

Dora Spiegel served in many fields, including education, the organization of league sisterhoods, and publications stimulating women’s loyalty to the synagogue and the Jewish home. She helped found the Women’s Institute of Jewish Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, influencing the lives of countless Jewish women and children.

Soloveitchik, Rabbi Joseph Dov

Joseph Dov Soloveitchik shaped Jewish practice and public opinion through the era of second-wave feminism. Despite his sometimes progressive actions, Soloveitchik maintained that women and men had separate religious and familial roles. These positions from the leader of the Modern Orthodox community cemented resistance to Orthodox feminists’ demands to increase their participation in Jewish rituals.


Over the last several decades, Jewish women attained significant achievement in the socio-economic sphere and played a leading role in maintaining Jewish continuity. In general, Jewish women are educated and participate in the labor force at higher rates than their non-Jewish counterparts.

Ida Lewis Siegel

Ida Lewis Siegel was a volunteer leader in Toronto dedicated to Zionism and education. Siegel’s organizing talents over the decades benefited many Jewish community institutions, including the Youth Aliyah. She was also involved in the wider Toronto community, serving as a trustee of the Toronto Board of Education.

Chana Shpitzer

Chana Shpitzer was an important figure in the field of Jewish education for girls in Jerusalem in the early 20th century. Shpitzer was a firm believer in single-sex education and her goal was for her students to develop academically, religiously, and practically. Her school was known for its emphasis on academic achievement, and almost all her students found gainful employment upon graduation.

Anna G. Sherman

Anna G. Sherman was one of the unsung heroes of the Hebraist movement in the United States. She taught Hebrew classes at the Teachers Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary for nearly forty years, inspiring hundreds of students, mostly adult women, to connect to their Judaism through the study of Hebrew.

Alice Hildegard Shalvi

Israel Prize Laureate Professor Alice Shalvi is a leading Israeli feminist activist and scholar. Founder of the Israel Women’s Network and the Ben Gurion University English Department and longtime principal of the iconic religious feminist high school Pelech, Professor Shalvi has been instrumental in advancing gender issues in Israeli education, society and politics.

Romania, Women and Jewish Education

Since the adoption of a public school system in the mid-1800s in Romania, Jewish women in Romania women have had to fight anti-Semitism and sexism to pursue their education.

Sophia Moses Robison

Sophia Moses Robison discovered her passion for social advocacy in college. Active in the National Council of Jewish Women throughout her life, Robison was also a published researcher and studied the economic impact of arriving refugees after World War II for the federal government. Her explorations into youth delinquency demonstrated the class and social biases in the reporting of delinquency.

Reconstructionist Judaism in the United States

Reconstructionist Judaism was founded in America in the early twentieth century, inspired by the ideas of Mordecai Kaplan as well as modern and American influences. A fierce commitment to integrating democracy into Jewish life has ensured that, from its founding, Reconstructionism has been expansive around raising up the voices and experiences of women in Jewish religious life and leadership.

Puah Rakovsky

Puah Rakovsky dedicated her life to working towards the empowerment of Jews, particularly of Jewish women. She was a revolutionary woman, taking on important roles as an educator, translator, organizer of women, and an early socialist Zionist.


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