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Best School in Jerusalem

Annie Landau's School for Girls, 1900-1960

Laura S. Schor

Publication Year: 2013

Annie Edith (Hannah Judith) Landau (1873-1945), born in London to immigrant parents and educated as a teacher, moved to Jerusalem in 1899 to teach English at the Anglo-Jewish Association's Evelina de Rothschild School for Girls. A year later she became its principal, a post she held for forty-five years. As a member of Jerusalem's educated elite, Landau had considerable influence on the city's cultural and social life, often hosting parties that included British Mandatory officials, Jewish dignitaries, Arab leaders, and important visitors. Her school, which provided girls of different backgrounds with both a Jewish and a secular education, was immensely popular and often had to reject candidates, for lack of space.

A biography of both an extraordinary woman and a thriving institution, this book offers a lens through which to view the struggles of the nascent Zionist movement, World War I, poverty and unemployment in the Yishuv, and the relations between the religious and secular sectors and between Arabs and Jews, as well as Landau's own dual loyalties to the British and to the evolving Jewish community.

Published by: Brandeis University Press

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii

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Shulamit Reinharz

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pp. xiii-xviii

Given the sophistication of contemporary Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel, it is difficult to imagine that a little more than a century ago, the holy city to which Jews face three times a day in their prayers was in truth a city of squalor. Beggars and disease were rampant. Food was unhygienic and in short supply. As historian Laura Schor explains, the city suffered from social...

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pp. xix-xx

It would have been impossible to write this book without the help of several individuals who agreed to be interviewed and in some cases provided substantial sources from their personal collections. I am deeply indebted to each of them.
Ruth Sless, the daughter of Ethel Levy, graciously allowed me to read papers that were saved by her mother. These papers, referred to in the book as...

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pp. 1-13

Annie Landau, the headmistress of the Evelina de Rothschild School from 1900 until her death in 1945, aspired for her school to become the best girls’ school in Jerusalem. Landau, educated in London and Frankfurt, arrived in Jerusalem in the last decades of Ottoman rule. The city she found was impoverished, and the education of girls was of little importance to its...

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1 | Annie Landau’s Road to Jerusalem

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pp. 14-40

Hannah Edith Landau, called Annie, was born in 1873 on Leman Street in the rapidly expanding, vibrant eastern European Jewish community in the East End of London. She was the eldest daughter of Marcus Israel Landau and Chaya Kohn, both immigrants to London who were raised in Orthodox families that scrupulously observed Jewish law, traditions, and customs. In...

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2 | An English Girls’ School in Ottoman Jerusalem

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pp. 41-81

Annie Landau initiated several changes during the months she spent at the helm of the Evelina de Rothschild School while Fortunée Behar was away. Shortly after Behar’s return, Olga d’Avigdor, the honorary secretary of the Ladies’ Committee of the Anglo-Jewish Association, arrived in Jerusalem to review the conditions of the school. She was accompanied by Lucy Haynes, an...

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3 | Rebuilding in British Jerusalem

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pp. 82-124

Jerusalem surrendered to General Edmund Allenby in early December 1917, one month after the Balfour Declaration, promising the Jews a homeland in Palestine, had been issued in London. Allenby’s humble walk through the Jaffa Gate into the Old City marked the beginning of a new phase in the history of the Middle East.1 Jerusalem, denuded by the retreating Turkish army of...

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4 | Return to Frutiger House

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pp. 125-161

In 1930, Annie Landau began her fourth decade at the helm of the Evelina de Rothschild School. The disruption caused in previous years by malnutrition and health crises no longer threatened regular school attendance. Ethel Levy and a team of dedicated teachers attended to the daily program of the school. Landau, as energetic as ever, turned her attention to her long-harbored...

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5 | School Magazine: The Girls Speak Out

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pp. 162-200

The Evelina students were deeply influenced by the enduring British values of their headmistress, but their lives were also affected by the growing nationalism of their families and friends. They went about their schoolwork with resolve, offering friendship to the new students from Germany and expressing both pride in their own accomplishments and rousing school...

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6 | Transitions: 1940–1960

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pp. 201-235

In 1940, the school year began a week late; Annie Landau and others were delayed in returning to Jerusalem because the war created difficulties in securing transport for civilians. A few weeks after classes resumed, the girls were summoned into the hall corridor to be fitted for gas masks by Major Sparks, who was in charge of Air Raid Precaution (ARP) in Palestine. Despite...

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Epilogue: Lessons Learned

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pp. 236-262

When Annie Landau arrived in Jerusalem in 1899, she found it to be in a pitiful state. She believed that the poverty, disease, dirt, and lack of initiative that characterized the Jewish community of the city were a result of the woeful neglect of the education of its girls, and she devoted her life to changing the situation, developing a curriculum focused on Jewish values and modern...


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pp. 263-280

Works Cited

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pp. 281-288


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pp. 289-300

E-ISBN-13: 9781611684865
E-ISBN-10: 1611684862
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611684841

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2013