In Her Hands
The Education of Jewish Girls in Tsarist Russia
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Wayne State University Press
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List of Illustrations
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List of Tables
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Introduction: Education and Transformation
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In the speech delivered at the opening of his private school for Jewish girls in Kherson in 1866, Abram Iakov Bruk-Brezovskii began with a paean to the history of Jewish education. “No one can rightly accuse our tribesmen of indifference to learning.”1 He then contrasted the supreme dedication of...
Part I: Education
1. Education in an Era of Change
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In 1804, shortly after large numbers of Jews first became subjects of the Russian empire, an ambitious statute granted Jews access to all Russian educational institutions. It also offered a vague threat that Jews’ refusal to reform themselves educationally could lead to government intervention.1 Given that the highly traditional Jewish community had no interest in secular Russian...
2. Unintended Consequences: The Emergence of Private Schools for Jewish Girls
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Shevel’ Perel’s modern private Jewish girls’ school, opened in Vilna in 1831, was not the first modern educational institution for Jews in the Pale of Settlement. By that time the Jewish community of Odessa already had a successful modern school. However, the school in Odessa served only boys. Perel’s...
3. Enlightened Self-Interest: Teaching Jewish Girls in Tsarist Russia
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In 1872, when Y. L. (Yehuda Leib) Gordon left his government Jewish school teaching job in Tel’she (Vilna province) to take up a prestigious post as secretary to the Jewish community of St. Petersburg, he also left behind the private school for Jewish girls he had opened six years previously.1 Fortunately,...
4. For Wisdom Is Better than Pearls: Financing Jewish Girls’ Education
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Although many educators opened private schools for Jewish girls for financial reasons, running a private school turned out to be less lucrative than many of the principals had hoped. Whereas the government-sponsored Jewish boys’ schools had a dedicated funding source, the...
5. Educating Jewish Daughers
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While each of the private schools for Jewish girls that opened between 1831 and 1881 has its own history and unique character, based on the personality of the founding principal, the location, its time of establishment, and the makeup of the surrounding community, all the schools shared certain...
Part II: Transformation
6. The Wisdom of Women Builds Her House: Jewish School Girls
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Here, Sholem Yankev Abramovich (better known as the Hebrew and Yiddish writer Mendele Mocher Sforim) expresses his awe at the public examinations held at a private school for Jewish girls in his home city of Berdichev in 1859.1 So great was Abramovich’s rapture in seeing Jewish school girls excel...
7. Who Can Find a Woman of Valor? Jewish Women’s Education in Public Discourse
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As more Jewish men received a western education and became enlightened, the consequences of women’s lack of access to these same opportunities became increasingly troubling. Here D. Lazarev used vibrant language to paint a picture of the Jewish family in chaos.1 The Jewish woman, with only the...
8. New Birds, New Wings: Educational Developments in the Jewish Community
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Writing after the cataclysm of the Second World War, in an effort to memorialize the recent past, a native of Horodets (Grodno province) chose to describe girls’ education in his city of origin not as static traditionalism, but as a dynamic process. Girls, he said, had once learned only to read Yiddish...
Conclusion: Rediscovering Private Schools for Jewish Girls
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The school that Shevel’ Perel’ opened in 1831 still served the Jewish community of Vilna in 1881. At that time, in addition to acting as the principal of the school, Vul’f Kagan, Perel’s son-in-law, was also teaching Jewish religion in the local Russian gymnasium.1 More and more Jewish students had begun...
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Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2010
Volume Title: N/a
Series Title: Non-series