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Sarah Schenirer is one of the unsung heroes of twentieth-century Orthodox Judaism. The Bais Yaakov schools she founded in interwar Poland had an unparalleled impact on a traditional Jewish society threatened by assimilation and modernity, educating a generation of girls to take an active part in their community. The movement grew at an astonishing pace, expanding to include high schools, teacher seminaries, summer programs, vocational schools, and youth movements, in Poland and beyond. It continues to flourish today throughout the Jewish diaspora.
Naomi Seidman explores the movement through the tensions that characterized it, capturing its complexity as a revolution in the name of tradition. She presents the context which led to its founding, examining the impact of socialism, feminism, Zionism, and Polish electoral politics on the process, and recounts its history, from its founding in interwar Kraków to its near-destruction in the Holocaust, and its role in the reconstruction of Orthodoxy in subsequent decades. This presentation will share Seidman’s findings, complemented by a live performance of songs of the Bais Yaakov movement sung by Basya Schechter.
Naomi Seidman is the Chancellor Jackman Professor in the Arts at the University of Toronto. She was previously the Koret Professor of Jewish Culture at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Her newest book, Sarah Schenirer and the Bais Yaakov Movement: A Revolution in the Name of Tradition, is the recipient of a 2019 National Jewish Book Award. Her previous books include Faithful Renderings: Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation andThe Marriage Plot: Or, How Jews Fell in Love with Love, and with Literature.
Basya Schechter, the founder of the band Pharaoh’s Daughter, is a musician and composer who has toured extensively throughout North America and Europe and played many prestigious stages. Her sound has been cultivated by her Hasidic music background and travels through the Middle East, Africa, Israel, Egypt, Central Africa, Turkey, Kurdistan and Greece. As part of the Bais Yaakov Project, she has studied the repertoire of interwar and post-Holocaust Bais Yaakov music.
This program is funded by the Friends of the Jewish Community Library’s Marsha Rivkind Raleigh Memorial Fund, named for a beloved Library patron and supporter.
Co-presented by KlezCalifornia.