BETH JACOB SCHOOLS, network of religious schools for girls organized in Poland in the post-World War I era with the aid of agudat israel , an ultra-Orthodox organization whose schools for boys were to be found in every community. While the boys' schools were of the old traditional type, the newly formed schools for girls combined Jewish traditional studies and industrial training. The first school was founded in Cracow in 1917 by Sara Schnirer. The school in Cracow had an enrollment of only 30 pupils, but the success of this early venture in imparting religious Jewish studies, some secular learning, and vocational training led to the formation of a large number of schools in a number of countries. By 1929 there were 147 such schools in Poland, and 20 schools in Lithuania, Latvia, and Austria. The Beth Jacob school system included teachers' training institutes founded in 1931 and post-graduate courses (1933). Two periodicals were published: Beth Jacob Journal and Der Kindergarten. With the invasion of Austria, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia by the Nazis and subsequently by the Russians, the activities of the Beth Jacob schools were discontinued. At the end of World War II Beth Jacob schools were opened in Israel, England, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Uruguay, Argentina, and the United States. In Israel there are over 100 schools serving 15,000 girls. These schools, with their teacher-training programs at the post-high school seminary level, have become more flexible in recent years, allowing girls to study there simultaneously for technical degrees in such fields as computers, architecture, and interior design. In the U.S. the Beth Jacob National Council was organized in 1943. By 1947 there were eight schools under their aegis. In 1951 two teacher-training schools were established and in the late 1950s two high schools were founded. At the turn of the century about 25 schools were in operation. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Z. Sharfstein (ed.), Ha-Ḥinnukh ve-ha-Tarbut be-Eiropah Bein Shetei Milḥamot ha-Olam (1957), 61–83; J. Pilch (ed.), A History of Jewish Education in the United States (1969), 140. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Lupu, New Directions in Haredi Society: Vocational Training and Academic Studies (2004). (Judah Pilch)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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