Sarah Schenirer (also Soroh Shenirer) (1883 - 1935) was a Jewish educator known mostly for establishing the first Jewish Orthodox education system for girls, known as Beis Yaakov ("house/home of Jacob") in Poland in 1918. One of her famous students was Rebbitzen Vichna Kaplan, the founder of the Beis Yaakov schools in America.

She succeeded in overcoming initial resistance against this new type of schools and saw rapid development of about 300 schools in pre Holocaust Europe. Her initiative was approved by the leading rabbis of the times, such as the Gerrer Rebbe, Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter and Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (known as "the Chofetz Chaim").

When she died in 1935, more than 200 Beis Yaakov schools were teaching approximately 35,000 girls. In her will, she addressed these students: "My dear girls, you are going out into the great world. Your task is to plant the holy seed in the souls of pure children. In a sense, the destiny of Israel of old is in your hands."[1]

In 1923 Schenirer set up a teachers' seminary to train staff for her rapidly expanding network of schools.

“The Main goal of the Beth Jacob school,” wrote Sara Shenirer, “is to train the Jewish 

daughters so that they will serve the L-rd with all their might and with all their hearts; so that they will fulfill the commandments of the Torah with sincere enthusiasm and will know that they are the children of a people whose existence does not depend upon a territory of its own, as do other nations of the world whose existence is predicated upon a territory and similar racial background. The Beth Jacob ideology stresses the following: religion; the fight against assimilation; the attachment to the Yiddish language.” [2]

In her novel Peleh Laylah, Israeli author Esther Ettinger, who studied at a Beis Yaakov school as a girl, weaves in passages from Sara Schneirer's writings.[3]

See also


  1. Martin Gilbert, The Jews in the Twentieth Century (New York: Schocken Books, 2001), 118-19.
  2. Beth Jacob chronology
  3. Journal Summer 06

External links

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