Rachel Simon publishes article on Libyan Jewish Education

Rachel Simon, Princeton University Library’s head of the Middle Eastern approvals section, published her article titled “The Impact of the Alliance Israélite Universelle on Jewish Education in the Mediterranean: Libya as a Case Study.”

The cover image book depicts "Food for orphan children, Salonika, Greece, circa 1923". The original is held by The Oster Visual

Published in 2021 in “Jewish Education in Southeastern Europe (Mid 19th–Mid 20th Century)” by the the University of Thessaly Press, the article explores the influences of Italian and French education on Jewish populations in the Mediterranean and the role of the ​​Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) schools in Libya and other Mediterranean states. The article is based on a conference presentation Simon gave in Volos, Greece, and follows an article she published in 2021 about the impact of the developing educational, social, and economic opportunities for Libyan women between the late 1800s to the 1940s.

In addition to Simon’s article, the book includes a variety of historians from the field of Jewish historical studies and their discussion of the education of Jews within the Ottoman Empire and Greece, the participation of Jewish children in Greek and international schools, as well as the initiatives of the Jewish communities to establish Alliance Israélite Universelle schools in their cities.

“This might not sound very ‘scholarly’, but the immediate reason to write this article was an invitation by Dr. Dina Moustani to participate in an international conference at the University of Thessaly,” explained Simon. Although her previous research did not focus on Southeastern Europe, she did have a background in Jewish education in the modern Middle East and North Africa, most specifically in Libya. Simon’s past research includes articles on Jewish book and periodical publishing in the Islamic world, Middle Eastern and North African Jewish women, as well as her book, “Change Within Tradition among Jewish Women in Libya.” 

“So, I suggested a topic that focused on Libya in comparison to other Jewish communities in the Mediterranean,” Simon said. 

Simon said that several of the books she needed for her work were located in Firestone Library. “I often check the catalog for new titles in my research area.” She added that the article’s existence at the intersection of socioeconomics and education means it may have broad appeal to those studying subjects ranging from women and gender to education, westernization, and modernization.

Researchers interested in reading Simon’s work can find the article through the University of Thessaly Press.

Published on February 17, 2022

Written by Brandon Johnson, Communications Specialist

Media Contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communications