Bais Ya'akov Schools

This movement of Orthodox Jewish day schools provides a chance for girls to get an education.

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Bais Ya'akov Today

After World War II, the world center of the movement shifted to Israel, where the movement has grown to encompass 15,000 students in over 100 institutions. There is some variation among the schools in the different cities in Israel, for example with regard to their openness to preparing pupils for the Ministry of Education matriculation examinations at the end of high school.

In less traditionally religious areas such as Haifa, a fear exists that parents might choose not to send their daughters to these schools if they did not offer the option of taking the examinations. In more conservative communities, such as Jerusalem and Bene-Berak, where no such fear exists, the schools unequivocally do not prepare for the Bagrut (matriculation exam).

The network of Bais Ya'akov schools throughout the world has come to be associated with uncompromising standards of modest dress and ritual practice. In recent years, tensions have been felt between the Ashkenazi and Sephardi ethnic elements in the schools in Israel, with the claim being made that the Sephardi pupils are less strict in their religious practice. Similar tensions exist between the daughters of Hasidim and Mitnaggedim, generally over differing degrees of openness in dating and courtship patterns. These tensions often reflect developments in the Israeli political arena.

In 2005, the seventieth anniversary of Sarah Schenirer's death, the Central Bais Ya'akov of Jerusalem (known as "the Mercaz") established an archival repository of documentation from the early years of the Bais Ya'akov movement.

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Deborah Weissman

Deborah Weissman is a specialist in Jewish education. She wrote her M.A. thesis in sociology on the history of the Bais Yaakov movement in Poland between the two world wars. Her Ph.D. in Jewish Education, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is on the social history of Jewish women's education.

Lauren B. Granite received her Ph.D. in sociology and the anthropology of religion from Drew University. Granite has been a visiting fellow at the University of Maryland?s Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies and an adjunct professor at the American University and at Drew. Her dissertation was "Tradition as a Modality of Religious Change: Talmud Study in the Lives of Orthodox Jewish Women."