Just in case you've never played — yes I said played instead of read — a choose your own adventure story before, this is how it works: You start just like any other story, but instead of just one middle and one ending there's a bunch to choose from. To get from the beginning to the end you have to choose your way through the story and see what happens. You might have noticed that this is a biography, that means that this is not a made up story about some character. This is the true to life story of Sarah Schenirer, an innovative strong woman who changed the game for Jewish women and girls by creating the first successful network of Jewish schools that educated women.
Important Note: As mentioned above, this is a true accounting of Sarah Schenirer's life. As such here is a heads up: Option 3 is historically accurate according to her own memoir and biographies of her written by her students. Options 1 and 2 are conjecture based on what I thought I might consider when I placed myself in her position, and what could have happened if she had chosen differently. No one comes up with an innovative idea without thinking of easier options first. They see a problem and first think of the easiest possible solutions, then decide the easy ways aren't good enough and come up with a better, more creative way.
Now, for some historical context...
Sarah Schenirer was born in Krakow, Poland on July 15, 1883. This was a great time for Torah learning for Jewish boys. Serious yeshivot (Jewish schools) were open and most boys went to private Jewish schools, where they studied Torah and Talmud in Hebrew, speaking Yiddish at home. Things were not quite the same for Jewish girls. Instead of private Jewish schools, girls would go to the public schools of whatever city they lived in until at least 7th grade, as mandated by Polish law.
At the time, Jewish education for girls was a seriously contested issue, considered by the rabbinic establishment to be against tradition and possibly even forbidden. In 1903, there had been a rabbinical conference in Krakow where one rabbi had actually suggested creating schools for girls, having noticed that they had been raising a generation of observant, knowledgeable, spiritually invested boys alongside ignorant and apathetic girls. He argued that opening schools for girls and educating them in Torah and Jewish law could prevent the frightening rates of assimilation and intermarriage. Unfortunately, this rabbi was shot down and the problem was not successfully addressed until nearly two decades later when Sarah Schenirer opened her school.
The information used in this biography was taken from Carry Me In Your Heart, the Life and Legacy of Sarah Schenirer; as well as from the essay Sarah Schenirer: The Mother of a Generation.
And for more mind blowing information about Sarah Schenirer check out the article Sarah Schenirerand Innovative Change: The Myths and Facts.