Gender, Education and Immigration in the Pre-state of Israel: Shoshana's Story – A Woman's Struggle for Education

By Lily Zamir.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Western feminist discourse has overlooked a group of unique women of the first immigration waves from Yemen to Israel. They were among the pioneers of feminism in their society – although they could neither read nor write and had never heard of the term “feminism.” They lived between the years 1881-1914, side by side with the “founding pioneering mothers of the Labor Movement, and with the ladies of the “Moshavot” - agricultural gentry who had transplanted their bourgeois lifestyles from Europe to Palestine. This group of women from Yemen has also been ignored by Israeli historiography, which has not yet accorded them the full attention they deserve.
These independent Yemenite women were perhaps without a public voice, but with strong will power they took their own fate and that of their families into their own hands. This paper presents a feminist interpretation of the story of Shoshana Bassin’s life.
Shoshana was a young girl when she had arrived to the Holy Land with her parents in 1904, she wrote her memoirs many decades later. Her story serves as case study for comprehending Yemenite Women’s lives that were full of crises and resolutions in Israel at the turn of the twentieth century, as well as a study of women's fight for their human rights for education.

Keywords: Gender, Education, Feminism, Immigration, Pre-state Israel

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.231-238. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 534.226KB).

Dr. Lily Zamir

Head, Life Long Learning Department and Gender and Women Studies, The David Yellin Teachers College, Jerusalem, Israel

Dr. Lily Halpert Zamir, head of the department of Adult education and director of the center for Women and Gender Studies, in David Yellin College , in Jerusalem, was born in Eastern Europe in 1956, as the only child of the second family of two Holocaust survivors. The first families of each of the parents were murdered in the Holocaust. In 1993 received a doctorate in comparative literature from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For the past ten years, she's taught a range of subject at David Yellin Teachers College, from English language and literature to foreign language pedagogy, and stereotypes of women in literature, advertising and cinema, as well as adult education and the media. Since 1993, she's lectured on literature and the Holocaust and on the fate of Jewish women in the Holocaust at Yad Vashem, as well as in different conferences in Jerusalem, Canada, U.S.A and Europe. In 1997 she founded the Center for Women’s Studies at the David Yellin Teachers College. Main publications include a textbook on English grammar, and an tow interdisciplinary books guide on the Holocaust for teachers, as well as a book about Danilo Kis and 33 papers about the Holocaust, such as: Teaching the Holocaust through Family Stories (2000) The Song of Songs in Auschwitz (2002) and papers with a feminist hint like The Special Fate of Women in the Holocaust (1999) Feminism And Peace (1999) Women as Objects, In The Poetry of Yehuda Halevi (2005) etc. Major Book Publications: Poetry, in hebrew: Yesterday As a Mistake, Alef, 1986 Yellow, Eked, 1987 Prose: Between History and Fiction – The Holocaust in Yugoslavia, Yad Vashem 1998 Between History and Fiction, The Narrative Work of Danilo Kis, Hebrew uni. 1992 Danilo Kis, Jedana Marcna Odiseja, (in Serbian) Ateneum, 2000. The Holocaust of German Jews: History, Literature and Movies, Moreshet, 2008.


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