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Jewish Education

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Kindergartens in Palestine: First and Second Aliyah (1882-1914)

Hebrew-language education of the youngest Jewish residents of Palestine was considered key to the continued success of the Zionist movement. The women who taught in these kindergartens, established during the First and Second Aliyah, demonstrated their dedication to the movement and became essential to its success.

Helene Khatskels

As a member of the General Jewish Workers’ Bund, Helene Khatskels fought to realize socialist ideals about autonomy and liberation. As a Yiddish teacher and writer in Tsarist Russia and later the Soviet Union, she demonstrated a commitment to spreading and inspiring pride in Yiddish culture.

Kibbutz Ha-Dati Movement (1929-1948)

Beginning in 1929, the religious kibbutz (Kibbutz Ha-Dati) movement represented the confluence of progressive ideals of equality and collectivism and traditional customs of Judaism. As a result, women in the movement lived at a crossroads.

Shulamith Katznelson

Shulamith Katznelson helped make Israel a home for a wider range of people as both a pioneer of Hebrew-immersion programs and an advocate for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

Rahel Katznelson

A thinker and teacher, Rahel Katznelson was one of the early activists in the Labor Movement and Mo’ezet ha-Po’alot in the Yishuv and Israel. She contributed greatly to the country’s emerging cultural life, laying stress on women’s participation within it.

Roza Shoshana Joffe

Roza Shoshana Joffe was a teacher who made Aliyah from the Ukraine, determined to establish a school for girls in Palestine. After many years teaching in Jaffa, she left the city for a village near the Sea of Galilee, where she bought and operated her own farm and hoped to open a school for farmers’ daughters.

Regina Jonas

Regina Jonas longed to become a rabbi for most of her life, and despite significant obstacles, was ordained in 1935. As the first ordained female rabbi, she worked in Berlin until her deportation to Theresienstadt, where she continued to preach, teach, and inspire her fellow inmates until her final deportation to Auschwitz.

Senta Josephthal

Senta Josephthal was German-born Zionist activist who was particularly influential in the kibbutz movement. She trained and recruited young Germans to the movement and represented the kibbutz movement in national organizations and political arenas after emigrating to Palestine.

Jewish Feminism in the United States

Challenging all varieties of American Judaism, feminism has been a powerful force for popular Jewish religious revival. The accomplishments of Jewish feminists have transformed American Jewish life, even as the ultimate goal of gender equity and shared power has yet to be fully realized.

Janie Jacobson

Combining her Jewish background with her skill and penchant for writing, Janie Jacobson succeeded as a biblical playwright in the early twentieth century. The children’s plays she authored were performed nationally. In addition to being an accomplished writer, she was a talented musician and involved in Jewish social activism.

Early Modern Italy

A study of the role of Jewish women in household formation, the household, and household dissolution, as well as their engagement in Jewish culture in early modern Italy, raises the question of how much of Jewish practice reflected the context of the surrounding society and how much engaged options in traditional Jewish practices, which were selected to meet their own needs. Despite the wealth of information about some well- known women and reports of the activities of many unnamed women, Jewish women, like Christian women, still functioned in the context of women and the period does not represent a Renaissance for women.

International Council of Jewish Women

The International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW) is a Jewish women's organization established at the beginning of the twentieth century, which evolved with the needs and events over time. As a women’s NGO, ICJW participates in a variety of projects promoting women’s rights and human rights, motivated by its roots in Judaism.

Leah Horowitz

Leah Horowitz was a Ukrainian scholar who wrote extensively about what she thought the role of women should be in Judaism. She emphasized the importance of women’s prayer and drew from the stories of the Hebrew matriarchs to argue that women’s work should be acknowledged and that they have power beyond their marriages.

Hebrew Teachers Colleges in the United States

Jewish education in the United States was always the preserve of women on the “front lines” and in the classroom. In the early days of these programs, men “ran the show,” but beginning in the mid-twenteith century, women began to take on increasing roles as faculty members and administrators. In the early twenty-first century, women ascended to leadership positions in these institutions.


Hasidism is a spiritual revival movement associated with the founding figure of Israel Ba’al Shem Tov (Besht, c. 1700–1760). Although some have depicted the movement as nothing less than a “feminist” revolution in early modern Judaism, in actuality the Hasidic movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries conceptualized gender in conventional terms drawn unquestioningly from the classical rabbinic, philosophical, and kabbalistic sources.

Hasidic Women in the United States

Hasidic women belong to various sects of Judaism’s most religiously observant and traditional communities. Postwar Hasidism took root and thrived in many U.S. cities; while women remain dedicated to domestic responsibilities, with large family sizes and a high birth rate, many also work outside the home and/or are college-educated religious activists. .

Habsburg Monarchy: Nineteenth to Twentieth Centuries

Jewish women in the Habsburg Monarchy experienced the stresses and strains of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Jewish life as Jews, as women of their particular social classes, and as inhabitants of the different regions of the Monarchy. In some regions, they modernized and acculturated, but the overwhelming majority remained deeply pious, traditional Jews.

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

Rivke Savich Golomb was an educator and Yiddishist who taught at Jewish schools in Warsaw, Palestine, Canada, and Mexico over the course of her career. She and her husband established Nuevo Colegia Israelita I. L Peretz in Mexico in 1950. Their “golombist” philosophy was based around integrating Yiddishkait into a humanist Jewish world.

Elyse Goldstein

Elyse Goldstein was one of the first women rabbis in Canada. Throughout her career she has broken down barriers by founding inclusive communities for learning and prayer.

Rose (Berman) 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. She published a book detailing her relationship between scripture and her own self-understanding in 1972.

Temima Gezari

Artist and innovator Temima Gezari made a lasting impact on Jewish education through her vivid artwork, illustrations of children’s books, and many years of teaching. Her philosophy of using art to teach about Jewish holidays and customs left an indelible mark on countless schoolchildren. After more than 60years in the field, she was a legendary presence in Jewish education.

Evelyn Garfiel

Evelyn Garfiel’s Jewish scholarship on topics like the prayer book and the Hebrew language helped make Jewish study accessible to the broader public. She served on the boards of several Jewish women’s organizations and published a book in 1957 that explored the prayer book and explained the origins and purpose of different prayers.

Mamie Gamoran

Mamie Goldsmith Gamoran combated assimilation in America by writing children’s books on Jewish history and holidays that encouraged children to feel proud of their dual identities as Jews and Americans. Gamoran served as a volunteer for Hadassah and as both a national board member and vice president of Histadrut Ivriot of America, an organization that promoted the Hebrew language.

Ray Frank

While her career was short-lived, Ray Frank remains significant as the first Jewish woman to preach from a pulpit in the United States. Her speeches often encouraged communal cooperation and tried to heal congregational disputes, and she notably gave an address at the first Jewish Women’s Congress in 1893.


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