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by Susan Weidman Schneider

Battling Sexism in Jewish Schools

As the “People of the Book,” Jews are expected both to revere scholarship in others, and to engage in lifelong learning ourselves. Yet for thousands of years, Jewish study was closed off to girls and women. Much formal, highly valued learning was denied Jewish women — sometimes by religious opinion or tradition, sometimes because family priorities dictated that only sons would study, sometimes by the subtle message that even secular study for women was somehow fraught with peril, as if too much education would detract from our “ornamental” purpose in life. Females rarely learned Hebrew—the key to Jewish study—except enough to chant the requisite blessings.

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