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April 12: Democratizing Torah Study

April 11, 2015

nehamNechama Leibowitz, an Orthodox Litvak woman who democratized Torah study in Israel in the 1940s by mailing out stencils of questions on the weekly Torah portion to anyone who requested them, collecting people’s responses, and returning them with her comments and insights, died at 91 on this date in 1997. Leibowitz, sister to Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz, was a professor at Tel Aviv University and also taught at Hebrew University and on The Voice of Israel radio station. In 1956, she was awarded the Israel Prize in education, and in 1983, she was a co-recipient of the Bialik Prize for Jewish thought.

“She emphasized the meanings relevant to the contemporary learner: by citing modern commentaries, by her extraordinary sensitivity for the learner’s problem, the ability to determine the message contained in the sources, and her sharp and clear formulation of these messages in a language and style that speak to every learner.” —The Jewish Agency for Israel