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Schools

Ethiopian Jewish Women

The Ethiopian Jews, men and women alike, were known as Falashas in Ethiopia, although in the last decade they have eschewed this appellation with its stigmatic connotation of “stranger”, implying low, outsider status. In Israel, they tend to be called Ethiopian Jews, whilst in Ethiopia they often referred to themselves—and are referred to in the academic literature—as Beta Israel (Weil, 1997a). The Beta Israel hail from villages in Gondar province, Woggera, the Simien mountains, Walkait and the Shire region of Tigray. They are divided into two distinct linguistic entities speaking Amharic and Tigrinya respectively.

Emunah

Emunah was founded in 1935 as the Women’s Branch of Ha-Po’el ha-Mizrachi, under the leadership of Tova Sanhedrai-Goldreich, who served the public throughout her life, first as a young woman in Poland, later in Israel, and as the leader of Emunah for more than fifty years. In addition, she served as a member of [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:345]Knesset[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] on behalf of the National Religious Party, as well as Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, from 1961 to 1974 (the fifth, sixth and seventh Knessets). During the 1960s, the Women’s Branch merged with the Mizrachi Women’s Organization to form the National Religious Women’s Organization, which later assumed the name Emunah.

Shulamith Reich Elster

In the 1980s, when she served as headmaster of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in suburban Washington, D.C., Shulamith Elster was often referred to as the dean of Jewish education.

Education of Jewish Girls in the United States

The secular and religious education of Jewish girls in America has very modest roots. Initially perceived as seamlessly bound together, over the course of nearly three and a half centuries, the general and Jewish education of Jewish girls took separate paths, which crossed and on occasion entered into conflict with each other. Secular education of Jewish girls has consistently expanded, but the path of Jewish education has been inconsistent.

Eastern European Immigrants in the United States

Of all Jewish immigrants to the United States from 1886 to 1914, forty-four percent were women, far more than for other immigrants groups arriving during the heyday of mass immigration. The more than two million Jews from the Russian Empire, Romania, and Austria-Hungary who entered the United States in the years 1881 to 1924—when the American government imposed a restrictive quota system—came to stay. Only 7 percent chose to return to Europe, as opposed to about 30 percent of all immigrants. Jewish immigrants intended to raise American families. Ashkenazi (European) Jewish culture and American values as conveyed by social reformers as well as by advertising, and the economic realities of urban capitalist America, all influenced the position of women in immigrant Jewish society in America. Jewish immigrant women shared many of the attributes of immigrant women in general, but also displayed ethnic characteristics.

Drisha Institute for Jewish Education

Drisha Institute for Jewish Education was founded in 1979 by Rabbi David Silber to provide women with the unprecedented opportunity to engage in the serious study of traditional Jewish texts. At the time, Silber was a lone pioneer, creating the world’s first model of advanced Jewish scholarship for women. Decades later, Drisha continues to hold a unique spot in the world of higher Jewish education for women, providing a learning environment that encourages seriousness of purpose, free inquiry, and respect for the texts of our tradition.

Katya Delakova

Dancer and choreographer Katya Delakova was a pioneer in incorporating Jewish experience into dance. Delakova applied themes from the Bible, Hasidic elements of worship, and American and European folk dance in the creation of theatrical dances for the stage. She later explored Old Testament themes using improvisation, developing a highly effective method for making large-scale dance-theater works. Her innovative teaching method, which drew from Eastern traditions like tai chi chuan along with modern and folk dance, was particularly influential in America and Germany.

Dance Performance in the United States

Dance has always had a special place in the Jewish community because of its capacity to heighten communal and individual joy at weddings as prescribed in the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:416]Talmud[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], at bar and [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:301]bat mitzvah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] celebrations, and on other happy occasions. The Bible contains many mentions of dance in celebration of important holidays and Israelite victories. Jews have always danced with the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] scrolls in processionals on the holiday of [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:407]Simhat Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], and there are movement processionals on other holidays, as well as during the weekly Sabbath services. A very simple form of dance is even part of Jewish prayer, as the rhythmic rocking movement of davening (praying) literally embodies the notion of total devotion to God.

Dance in the Yishuv and Israel

Until 1920, dance—like other artistic activities—was virtually nonexistent in Palestine, then a neglected province of the Ottoman Empire. The Bezalel Academy of Art and Design (founded in 1906) operated in Jerusalem, while Tel Aviv had two modest music conservatories, Shulamit (founded in 1910) and Beit Ha-Levi’im (founded in 1914). Attempts were also made to set up small symphony orchestras and amateur theater, but these soon folded. There were no dance or drama schools or even auditoriums. Under the more liberal administration of the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:306]British Mandate[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] which went into effect in 1920, waves of immigration increased until, by the middle of the 1920s, the Jewish population reached about ninety thousand. (There were 83,790 Jews in Palestine according to the first British census in 1922). The character of immigration also changed: while previously most of the immigrants had been young idealists who arrived as individuals, most of those who arrived during the third [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:293]aliyah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] (1919–1923) were entire families, primarily from eastern Europe. They increased the population in urban settlements, built on the sands of Tel Aviv, and gave momentum to the development of the arts, particularly dance.

Ray Karchmer Daily

Ray Karchmer Daily was a leader in Texas in the struggle for equal opportunities for women. She was born in Vilna, Lithuania, on March 16, 1891, to Kalman and Anna (Levison) Karchmer. The youngest of five children (Jack, Alex, Sidney, Nathan, and Ray), she immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was age fourteen. The family settled in Denison, Texas, where her father operated a business. In 1913, she became the first Jewish woman to graduate from a Texas medical school. After much difficulty, she found an internship at Women’s Hospital in Philadelphia, the only hospital/medical school with a dormitory for women. Throughout her career she crusaded for adequate housing for female medical students. Her chosen specialty was ophthalmology, but there were no residence positions available in the United States for women. She finished her training in Vienna, Austria.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Schools." (Viewed on December 12, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/schools>.

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