Staff Post: Aviva Green

Haredim Women’s Education

Last semester I wrote a research paper for my First Year Seminar, Educating Women at Home and Abroad. The paper was about women’s education in ultra orthodox Jewish society in Israel, the Haredim. What I found struck me because the Haredim have created a Jewish world that is so different from mine. The life I lead as a Jewish woman is unlike the lives these Haredi Jewish women lead in a society conceived around strict formations of culture and customs, all centered around Judaism.

Reflecting on this paper as well as my life as a Jewish woman at college, I thought about how two Jewish women can have drastically different experiences. It was fascinating to learn how women in the Haredi society are educated with their societal roles as mothers and wives in mind. These women are educated within the insular sphere that is the Haredim, keeping their society intact. As a Jewish woman myself, it was striking to study how these women’s educations are so rooted not only in their religion, but the specific place they hold in their society. Education in these two societies plays very different roles, especially in the way it is formatted to relate to women.

Growing up in the American educational system, Judaism was so divorced from my formal education. I grew up in two worlds, the public school system and a Jewish community learning about Jewish culture, customs, and religion. Judaism in my life signified a community that practices similar customs rather than a structural way of life. Judaism for me is a way of connecting with people, while also partaking in traditions, rather than a type of law. The divergence of my Jewish experience from other women’s experiences speaks to the diversity of the roles religion plays in people’s lives.

Staff Post: “Solution” by Beth Derr

As the person with the honor of writing the first staff blog post, I thought I’d share this poem I wrote at the beginning of this school year, which I feel encapsulates the unique nature of the adventures of being a student at a women’s college.  Less than a hundred days away from my graduation, I’m appreciating my Smith experience more and more, and I’m so going to miss this women’s college environment.


Sweat-soaked and scalp-strained
from hot days and high buns,
we are drawn to the river,
after dinner, after dark.

The path is smooth; we need no flashlight
the moon is a crescent; it peers through the leaves.

Clothes shed, shoes kicked,
our toes sink into silt
we slip underwater,
icecold and sweet.

The river is smooth; there is no current
the moon is a voyeur; it makes our skin shine.

Skin cooled, clothes dripping
from our blissful solution,
we walk home without towels
Drips in the night.

The pavement is smooth; there are no potholes
the moon is a classmate; it laughs in the sky.