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Educating in the Divine Image

Gender Issues in Orthodox Jewish Day Schools

Chaya Rosenfeld Gorsetman

Publication Year: 2013

Although recent scholarship has examined gender issues in Judaism with regard to texts, rituals, and the rabbinate, there has been no full-length examination of the education of Jewish children in day schools. Drawing on studies in education, social science, and psychology, as well as personal interviews, the authors show how traditional (mainly Orthodox) day school education continues to re-inscribe gender inequities and socialize students into unhealthy gender identities and relationships. They address pedagogy, school practices, curricula, and textbooks, as along with single-sex versus coed schooling, dress codes, sex education, Jewish rituals, and gender hierarchies in educational leadership. Drawing a stark picture of the many ways both girls and boys are molded into gender identities, the authors offer concrete resources and suggestions for transforming educational practice.

Published by: Brandeis University Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword: Gendered Lessons in Jewish Schools

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pp. ix-xii

Jewish day schools transmit lessons about Jewish values, as well as a pleth-ora of information. Few would be surprised that expectations regarding the male and female roles of students ? and the men and women they will become ? are among the societal values conveyed by Orthodox day schools. However, as Chaya Rosenfeld Gorsetman and Elana Maryles ...

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pp. xiii-xvi

This book has been a decade in the making. We met online in April 2003, Chaya in New York and Elana in Melbourne, Australia, and spent a year excitedly emailing about gender, religion, and education ? before we even met in person. Over these years, we have had countless conversa-tions with each other and with people we meet, eagerly sharing experi-...

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Introduction: Gender, Judaism, and Educating in the Divine Image

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pp. 1-27

...early childhood classrooms in Jewish schools love to teach Shabbat ? the Sabbath. One of the most popular ways to inculcate Sabbath- based rituals is by assigning a boy and girl the rotating roles of ?father? and ?mother? each week ??Ima shel Shabbat? for the girl, and ?Abba shel Shab-bat? for the boy ? who reenact home rituals in class on Fridays. In one ...

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1 | In the Classroom

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pp. 28-60

...one tuesday afternoon, Elana sat in on her daughter?s second grade music class, eager to see how the teacher would acknowledge the effect of the young girl?s piano lessons and her rapidly developing interest in music. The year was 2000, and this was a coed religious Zionist elemen-tary school in Israel. Twenty- five first graders sat in three rows in the rect-...

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2 | People of the Book

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pp. 61-87

...jews, the ?people of the book,? probably understand as well as any other cultural group the power of the written text in transmitting culture. Texts hold the treasures of the heritage, and are one of the central tools used for educating the next generation about the values and ideals of Jew-Texts can reproduce and legitimize the culture, but they can also chal-...

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3 | Separate or Together?

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pp. 88-124

...nity attended a synagogue meeting that was advertised as being open to all. She walked in to the meeting and sat down next to her husband. A man from the synagogue then walked over to her and said that men and women were expected to sit separately. Stung, she decided to leave. Later at home, as she and her husband were debating the issue and their mem-...

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4 | 'Tzniut' and Dress Codes

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pp. 125-167

...the concept of modesty has always been a central feature of Jewish culture. According to ancient Jewish texts, modesty is related to a gentle-ness of demeanor vis- ?- vis the other ? an outlook that involves taking care not to impose one?s gaze on another Jew through his or her private window or door.1 It is a humility often credited to Moses; a type of sub-...

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5 | Building Intimate Relationships

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pp. 168-202

...one of the effects of schools? overemphasis on female body cover is that the language of modesty becomes a vehicle for sex education. Schools may or may not be aware of all the messages that are implied and some-times stated outright about sexuality in the context of commenting on girls? bodies. Yet, even schools that do not officially offer sex-education ...

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6 | The Shul in the School

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pp. 203-241

...gogue on the East Coast. Skilled, intelligent, and highly respected pro-fessionally, the neurosurgeon arrived just on time for the beginning of Friday- night services. The doctor happens to love this part of the liturgy, and made great efforts to be punctual and properly dressed. As the crowd gathered, the man in charge began to count men. One, two, three, four, ...

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7 | The Broader Context

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pp. 242-268

...a leading jewish educational institution published an anthology on Jewish education several years ago. Elana, who happened to be sitting in the director?s offices when the editor came in with the book hot off the presses, flipped through the book and was surprised to discover that of the fifteen chapters collected in the book, not one was written by a woman. ...

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Reflections and Conclusions

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pp. 269-278

...in june 2012, the following Facebook status was posted from a Jewish woman living on the East Coast, who sends her son to a community day pickup, a teacher ?warned? me that my son was wearing a bow in his hair and asking to be called Lady Gaga. I told her I?m fine with my kids? gender expression. Then the assistant director told me that she ...

Appendix A: Practical Educational Resources

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pp. 279-289

Appendix B: Methods

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pp. 290-294


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pp. 295-322


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pp. 323-324


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pp. 325-338


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pp. 339-349

E-ISBN-13: 9781611684599
E-ISBN-10: 1611684595
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611684575

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 861671437
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Educating in the Divine Image

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Sex differences in education -- Cross-cultural studies.
  • Sex discrimination in education -- Cross-cultural studies.
  • Jewish girls -- Education -- Cross-cultural studies.
  • Jewish day schools -- Cross-cultural studies.
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