Broadening Educational Opportunities for Jewish Girls in Djerba, Tunisia

Twin second-graders at Djerba's new Kanfei Yonah School
Twin second-graders at Djerba's new Kanfei Yonah School

The 1,000 Jews now living in Djerba, an island off the south Tunisian coast, comprise one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities, one that carefully guards its religious traditions and customs, some of which predate the writing of the Talmud. A vibrant community with a 4% annual growth rate and 11 active synagogues, its Jewish educational institutions stand at the center of community life and have long benefited from JDC financial and curricular support.

For decades, these have included a traditional Yeshiva program for boys, and a part-time school for girls, conducted in Hebrew, that offers both Jewish and secular studies—as well as a supplementary secular study program for the boys.

Now, girls 6 to 18 have an additional option, a complementary afternoon and evening school offering them additional hours of study and a curriculum that responds to the needs and aspiration of 21st century youth.

With encouragement from the Chief Rabbi and support from JDC and other donors, the school was launched by two dynamic young women, using makeshift classrooms provided by the community. Alit (a mother of seven, including a newborn) and her sister-in-law, Hannah (a mother of four), currently serve as the program’s directors.

Pointing to a three-year track record of success in attracting a growing enrollment (some 100+), the women are now working to establish a permanent facility for the school that will accommodate all age groups, including the high school classes they have been adding each year.

“We are constantly expanding the range of subjects,” says Alit, all of which are taught in Hebrew, as has been the norm in Djerba for the past 60 years.

Characterizing their work as “a mission,” Hannah explains that, “in addition to Torah, Halacha (religious law), and the Bible, we also teach mathematics, geography, and science.” And there is a strong desire to promote vocational training, with Alit pressing to open courses in photography and hairdressing techniques that can lead to suitable employment.

Clearly, the school is providing new horizons for Jewish girls and young women in Djerba. And most importantly in this very traditional community, it is enabling them to develop their individual potential in a manner consonant with their religious customs.

To learn more about JDC programs in Tunisia, visit: http://www.jdc.org/where-we-work/africa/tunisia.html

Comments

X

An error occurred during your login.

X

JDC, Cookies, and Your Privacy

Cookies are small pieces of information sent by our web server for storage on your computer, to be retrieved when you return to this site. We use cookies to allow you faster, more convenient access, and to prevent you from being required to log in on every page of our sites.

For more information on JDC’s use of cookies, read our Privacy Policy.

X

An Error Occurred

X

Logging In With One of Your Social Web Site Logins

Instead of trying to remember a bunch of special username/password combinations to log in to different web sites that you visit, you can now link your account on this web site to your account on one (or more) of the social media web sites shown and log in with the same username/password combination that you use on that social web site to log in to our site.

To provide this connection in a secure manner, we use Gigya, a social network connection provider that works behind the scenes to make safe, secure connections between user accounts on different systems, such as popular social media web sites like Facebook and web sites like ours where you are actively involved in social issues and causes.

Each time you log in, Gigya uses special application programming interfaces (APIs) to establish the connection between the sites and validate your username and password. Neither our web site or Gigya receive or store your social network passwords.

In addition to reducing the number of logins you have to remember, connecting your accounts can make it quicker and easier to share an activity or cause you feel passionately about from our web site with your friends on your social web sites.

You can break the connection between your accounts at any time.