Contesting Religious Authoriality: The Immanuel "Beis-Yaakov" School Segregation Case

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This paper will focus on two textual articulations that emerged in the Immanuel "Beis-Yaakov" school segregation case. The first is a declaration of the Admor from Slonim that was published when the ultra-Orthodox fathers who refused to send their daughters to an integrated school were imprisoned. The second is a letter to the Supreme Court that was written by an Ashkenazi mother whose daughter attended the "Beis Yaakov" school. A semiotic reading of the articulations reveals several opposing characteristics. The Admor's audience is determined by his choices of medium and rhetoric, which guarantee hegemonic reading, corresponding with the textual code of his interpretive community. The letter, on the other hand, represents an attempt to break through communal borders, and therefore its writer cannot expect hegemonic reading. Yet, she makes a considerable effort to employ signifiers denoting her ultra-Orthodox affiliation. In light of the hindrances that usually prevent ultra-Orthodox women from contesting the authority of the community, the letter presents a rare feminine voice, which is vigorous enough to attempt subverting under the authoriality of the Admor, and might have a long run affect on the quest for equality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-225
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Education law
  • Education policy
  • Equality
  • Israel
  • Religion
  • Ultra-Orthodox

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Law


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