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Sara Schenirer

Sara Schenirer

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translated by Paulina Ohar-Zima
[God Most High first addressed women (Ex 19:3)], as it is Jewish mothers and female teachers who educate the next generation, they alone can make children love the Torah, they provide spiritual survival to the Jewish nation and despite popular belief, the words “Bais Yaakov” do not show a woman that her place is at home, but that she is home. And it has to be noted that in Judaism home is perceived as something more than shelter for people. It is also a representation of the Sanctuary where Shekhinah [divine presence] stays…

I think that today everyone already knows that the only goal of Bais Yaakov schools is to educate Jewish daughters in such a way that with all their might, till their last breath, they serve the Creator and very eagerly fulfill his commandments written in the Torah. They should know they are from a nation whose existence is not based solely on its own country – as it is the case with other peoples, strongly attached to their land – but on one and only sacred ideal – the Torah, thanks to which and for the sake of which that people became a nation…

Behold, Jewish women and daughters! For thousands of years the Jewish nation has lived with the Torah, millions of great men and women felt, understood and put into practice ideas drawn from that flame of faith. The teachings of the Torah have always been a national treasure that we have worked for. The goal of the Bais Yaakov schools is preserving the Torah among the female gender and delighting our daughters with its contents. That flame of faith cannot be achieved as such solely through establishing great schools and collecting books, certainly not!

When we learn the sacred Torah, when we have understood it, when we blow around its flame and warm our hearts in it, only then will the Torah become the law regulating our life. I think it can only be achieved through education, true Jewish education for girls.

(Passages from  [Collected Writings], transl. Dariusz Dekiert, Joanna Fabijańczuk)
translated by Paulina Ohar-Zima
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Sara Schenirer

In this house lived Sara Schenirer (13 July 1883, Kraków – 1 Mar 1935, Kraków), educational and social activist, writer, pioneer of Jewish education for girls, founder of the Beys Yakov movement. Born to a Hassidic family, she was educated in a state school. In 1917 she opened in her apartment the first school for 25 Jewish girls. It was the beginning of the Beys Yakov [House of Jacob], network of religious schools for girls, which in the late 1930s featured over 250 schools in Poland and abroad, educating about 40,000 girls. In 1925 Schenirer opened a two-year teachers’ seminary in Kraków to train pedagogical staff. Called the “Mother of Israel” and “Mother of Generations,” Schenirer became a legend in her lifetime in the Orthodox circles. Her goal was not only to educate but also to create an environment in which women can actively participate in Yiddishkeit. At present, Beys Yakov schools operate in North and South Americas, Europe, Israel and Australia.     

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