December 18, 2018

The mem­oir of Alice Shalvi, a pio­neer in advanc­ing the sta­tus of women in Israel and in reli­gious girls’ edu­ca­tion. Well known as a pub­lic speak­er and a social activist, Shalvi’s con­tri­bu­tion to Jew­ish edu­ca­tion, to Israeli cul­ture and to Jew­ish fem­i­nism has been wide­ly recognized.

Born in Ger­many in 1926 to Ortho­dox par­ents, Shalvi grew up in Lon­don and stud­ied Eng­lish at Cam­bridge, before mov­ing to Jerusalem in 1949 where she went on to pur­sue a PhD at Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty, even­tu­al­ly teach­ing Eng­lish Lit­er­a­ture. In 1950, Shalvi met and mar­ried her hus­band, Moshe Shelkowitz (lat­er Shalvi), who died in 2013. One of Shalvi’s great­est accom­plish­ments was the estab­lish­ment of the Pelech School which she head­ed from 1975 to 1990. This experimental/​pro­gres­sive reli­gious high school for girls in Jerusalem has become a mod­el for women’s Ortho­dox edu­ca­tion across the country.

    Discussion Questions

    Alice Shalvi was born in Ger­many to par­ents with Gali­cian ori­gins, and she grew up and was edu­cat­ed in the Unit­ed King­dom; she has been a res­i­dent of Israel for almost sev­en­ty years. As her spell­bind­ing and deeply per­son­al mem­oir reveals, she has been con­nect­ed to many of the major events and polit­i­cal move­ments that have marked Jew­ish life over the past cen­tu­ry. Shalvi recounts the lives of her par­ents and sib­lings, her family’s encoun­ters with Nazi anti­semitism, her Cam­bridge edu­ca­tion, her com­mit­ment to Zion­ism, and her 1949 deci­sion to make aliyah. She also dis­cuss­es her hap­py and fruit­ful mar­riage and the chal­lenges of bal­anc­ing an aca­d­e­m­ic career and rais­ing six chil­dren. Cen­tral to this sto­ry is Shalvi’s account of her grad­ual recog­ni­tion of the endem­ic sex­ism in Israeli life and her emer­gence as an advo­cate for women’s wel­fare and for increas­ing women’s vis­i­bil­i­ty and lead­er­ship in every aspect of Israeli soci­ety. Shalvi has been rec­og­nized and hon­ored for her achieve­ments both in Israel and the Unit­ed States. Her vibrant mem­oir will enhance her lega­cy even as it inspires her read­ers to emu­late her accomplishments.