Bais Yaakov in InterWar Europe
From the first school that Sarah Schenirer founded in Kraków in 1917, Bais Yaakov spread quickly across Poland and Lithuania. By 1925, there were 45 schools with over 5,000 students, as recorded in a letter from Rabbi Leo Jung. By 1929, the movement had grown to 146 schools, according to Rabbi Dr. Leo Deutschländer’s Das Erziehungswerk der gesetzestreuen Judenheit (Frankfurt a. M. 1929).
These documents (the 1925 letter from Rabbi Jung, 1927-1928 reports from the Central Office, and Rabbi Dr. Deutschländer’s 1929 book) contain a wealth of information, including the city or town where the school was located; the year the school was founded in that city or town; the name of the teacher at the time of the report; and/or the number of students in the school at the time of the report. These numbers are questionable because many schools started without first contacting the Central Office, and schools opened and closed with alarming rapidity.
The documents are not consistent in the data they provide or the format in which they provide the data, which means that we don’t have information about teachers in 1928 or numbers of students in 1929. Still, the information in the documents allows us to visualize the exponential growth of the Bais Yaakov movement in Poland.
In the maps below, each pin represents a school mentioned in at least one of the documents. Click on each pin to see the data for each school.