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Jewish Education

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Rabbis in the United States

Since 1972, when Sally Priesand became the first woman in the world ordained by a rabbinical seminary, hundreds of women have become rabbis in the Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative movements. In recent years, womenhave also entered the Orthodox rabbinate, using a variety of titles, including rabbi.

Mary Goldsmith Prag

One of California’s first Jewish educators, Mary Goldsmith Prag came to San Francisco as a young child during the Gold Rush. She became a religious and secular teacher, an administrator, a fighter for equal rights for women, and the mother of the first Jewish congresswoman, Florence Prag Kahn.

Post-Biblical and Rabbinic Women

IIn antiquity, the treatment of women drew from patriarchal biblical traditions. Despite a few notable exceptions, women had minimal legal rights but were active participants in alternative Jewish sects and could hold office. As rabbinic material was codified, control over women increased, although the literature was not exclusively restrictive towards women.

Poland: Early Modern (1500-1795)

Polish Jewish Women played a complex role in their society and culture during the early Modern Period. This role was usually gender segregated, but upon a closer look, was more gender flexible than one might think.

Ellen Phillips

Ellen Phillips influenced generations of young Jewish girls and boys in nineteenth-century Philadelphia. One of the founding members of the Hebrew Sunday School Society in 1838, Phillips donated her time, family wealth, and religious convictions to several Jewish and sectarian philanthropic organizations.

Pelech Religious Experimental High School for Girls, Jerusalem

Pelech is a pioneering school for girls in Jerusalem. For over half a century, Pelech has sought to educate its students towards a love and understanding of Torah. It encourage its students to take part in leadership roles in the religious world and in Israeli society and promotes women’s involvement in improving social justice.

Old Yiddish Language and Literature

Women played a central role in the development and evolution of Old Yiddish literature. Old Yiddish literature was published with women’s literacy in mind, most nominally for women’s religious practice and learning.

Penina Moïse

A Jewish-American poet, nurse, journalist, and educator, Penina Moïse was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1797. Penina Moïse, a staunch supporter of the Confederacy, shaped American-Jewish culture through her poetry as the first woman poet included in an American prayer book.

Linda Rosenberg Miller

Linda Rosenberg Miller devoted herself to Jewish studies and collecting art and archeological treasures.

Mexico: Education

The first immigrants to arrive in Mexico during the early decades of the twentieth century from Eastern Europe, Syria, and the Balkan countries were profoundly concerned with the formal education of their children. At that time, part of the controversy in the community was whether Mexico should be an “in transit” country to the United States or a place in which to settle permanently, in which education would play an important role as part of the socializing process.

Medieval Ashkenaz (1096-1348)

The Jews of medieval Ashkenaz are known for their prolific rabbis and for the Ashkenazic customs that became characteristic of many European Jewish communities. During the High Middle Ages, the women in these communities had many important roles women within the family and in the communal, economic, and religious life.

Miriam Markel-Mosessohn

Miriam Markel-Mosessohn was a Hebrew writer. She was most admired by Judah Leib Gordon, the foremost poet of the Haskalah, with whom she maintained a regular correspondence. Through her translations, her brief journalistic career, and her influence on Gordon, Markel-Mosessohn played a key role in the Hebrew literary revival.

Judith Pinta Mandelbaum

Judith Pinta Mandelbaum was an important part of the Mizrachi Women’s Organization of America (American Mizrachi Women) from the 1930s until shortly before her death in 1977, by which time the organization was known as AMIT. She also achieved professional acclaim as an outstanding teacher and is remembered fondly as a woman with a wonderful sense of humor and a rich family life.

Tehilla Lichtenstein

Tehilla Lichtenstein co-founded the Society of Jewish Science with her husband as an alternative to Christian Science, creating a small but passionate following and carving a place for herself as a congregational leader.

Elma Ehrlich Levinger

Early twentieth-century author and educator Elma Ehrlich Levinger wrote over thirty books for children and several for adults—all of which emphasize the importance of maintaining Jewish identity in America.

Sara Lee

Sara Lee, a Jewish educator who combines charisma with caring and vision with realism, has been a central figure in the effort to ensure Jewish continuity. In recent years the American Jewish community has recognized both the critical need for and the difficult challenge of providing all Jews with an excellent, compelling 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. Yet in spite of these very real disabilities, there seem always to have been a handful of women in traditional Jewish communities who became educated.

Annie Edith Landau

As an educator in Jerusalem at the beginning of the twentieth century, Annie Edith Landau established new standards both in educational methods and in the cultural, ethical, and health arenas, while at the same time setting an example of polite and civilized behavior.

Sarah Kussy

Sarah Kussy was a founder and leader of a constellation of significant Jewish organizations, including Hadassah and the United Synagogue Women’s League. Through her many associations, Kussy worked to change the face of Jewish education, Zionist activities, and women’s participation in Jewish American communal life.

Frances Krasnow

Frances Krasnow helped bring scientific rigor to dental medicine through her research into oral biochemistry and microorganisms. A graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University, and 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 and Elli (Moses) Podolsk. The family relocated to Canada in 1949, eventually settling in Toronto in 1956. Julia and her husband Henry Koschitzky became involved in communal leadership and philanthropy, specifically in Jewish education and social welfare, and she took on active roles in Jewish affairs both in Toronto and around the globe.

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook

Although he credited women for their emotions and intuition and valued them for their essential position in the family, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook generally regarded women as inferior to men. He believed women should not be educated but rather should be limited to the home and to serving as their husband and family’s housekeeper.

Kolot: Center for Jewish Women's and Gender Studies

Kolot, the first Center for Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies established at a rabbinical school, was founded in 1996 to bring the insights of Jewish feminist scholarship to the training of rabbis, both in a revised curriculum and through innovative projects. Among these projects, Kolot developed ritualwell.org, a widely used feminist website of new Jewish rituals and liturgy, and a program to enhance self-esteem in teenaged girls, Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing!

Kolech: Religious Women's Forum

Kolech (Hebrew for Your Voice): Religious Women’s Forum was founded in Jerusalem in 1998 with the aim of raising the standing of women in Jewish religious Orthodoxy. Among its achievements are a monthly pamphlet discussing the weekly Torah portion, halakhic issues, homiletics, and various Torah subjects; international conferences; and a guide for rabbis and communal workers on how to act when approached by women. Kolech is also active in the work of the Israeli Parliament, concerning certain laws which affect women.

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.


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