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Establishing Beys Ya’akov: Legitimizing Girls' Religious Education
Apr 13 2010


Agnieszka Oleszak, University College London

Beys Ya’akov was a network of religious schools for girls in prewar Poland. The first school was established by Sarah Schenirer in Kraków in 1917. In 1919, Beys Ya’akov was taken over by Agudas Israel, which proved to be a turning point in the school’s development. Its rapid growth made it a popular and successful educational institution among Orthodox Jews in Central and Eastern Europe. The tradition of Beys Ya’akov continues until the present day mostly in Israel and the U.S.

This presentation aims to reconstruct the history of establishing Beys Ya’akov in 1917 in Kraków as well as to explain the process of its institutionalization. This early stage in the history of Beys Ya’akov seems to be neglected in the existing research, most likely due to the lack of historical sources. In Oleszak's presentation she will attempt to shed new light on the early years of the school in order to illustrate the process of legitimizing the idea of institutionalized religious education for Jewish girls.

Establishing Beys Ya’akov Audio