The Best School in Jerusalem: Annie Landau’s School for Girls, 1900 – 1960

Lau­ra Schor

  • Review
By – September 29, 2014

The mod­ern city that we know as Jerusalem today was a very dif­fer­ent place one hun­dred years ago. It was poor, full of beg­gars, and over­run with dis­ease. The Sephar­di and Ashke­nazi com­mu­ni­ties were rigid­ly divid­ed. The one thing they had in com­mon was the sta­tus of women: girls received no edu­ca­tion and were mar­ried at the age of twelve or thir­teen. Annie Lan­dau, a British Ortho­dox Jew who immi­grat­ed to Pales­tine, changed all of that. She began teach­ing Eng­lish at the Evali­na de Roth­schild School and became prin­ci­pal in 1899. She held this post until her death in 1945. She changed the lives of many girls by cre­at­ing a school open to all social class­es, reli­gions, and back­grounds. She gave them both a Jew­ish and a sec­u­lar edu­ca­tion and instilled in them a sense of self-con­fi­dence that enabled them to par­tic­i­pate in the devel­opment of mod­ern Israeli soci­ety. This book by a pro­fes­sor at Hunter Col­lege gives read­ers both a por­trait of a remark­able woman and a pic­ture of the ear­ly days of the Zion­ist move­ment, World War I, and the econ­o­my of the yishuv. They will gain an under­stand­ing of the rela­tions between the dif­fer­ent social class­es, the reli­gious and sec­u­lar com­mu­ni­ties, and between Arabs and Jews. This is an excel­lent choice for those inter­est­ed in Jew­ish stud­ies, women’s stud­ies, and education.

Relat­ed content:

Bar­bara M. Bibel is a librar­i­an at the Oak­land Pub­lic Library in Oak­land, CA; and at Con­gre­ga­tion Netiv­ot Shalom, Berke­ley, CA.

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