Page 175 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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B O O K S O N T H E H I S T O R Y A N D
P H I L O S O P H Y O F J E W I S H
E D U C A T I O N
B
y
S a m u e l
M .
B l u m e n f i e l d
H
a v in g
agreed
to write a precis of important books on Jewish
education of the last quarter of a century, I found that the
admonition of Ecclesiastes, “Of making many books there is no
end,” does not apply to books on Jewish education. T o be sure,
one can point to a sizeable bibliography of articles, papers, sur-
veys and monographs on specific aspects of Jewish pedagogy, but
they can hardly be considered contributions to Jewish education
literature. Publications on Jewish education worthy of the desig-
nation of books, are exceedingly few—this in an age producing
books “no end.”
The historian, Moritz Gudeman, referring to Jewish education
in medieval times, maintained that Jews in the past “were so
much taken with the actual work of education that they had
little time left to write
a b o u t
education.” One can hardly cite
such a state of affairs as the rationale for the paucity of books
on Jewish education in our time, considering that Jews no longer
engage in Jewish studies with the intensity of their forebears.
The reason for the meager harvest in writings on education
during the last twenty-five years and more, is to be sought in the
significant changes in the social, cultural and religious climate
that has informed Jewry since the days of emancipation. For
centuries Jewish education was, by and large, an expression of
religious beliefs and commitments. W ith the rise of emancipa-
tion, Jewish education has lost much of the “sancta” of Torah
without receiving the compensating values and benefits that
secular education offers in the non-Jewish community. Th is
“suspended” condition in which Jewish learning and teachers
find themselves in modern times accounts for the meager con-
tributions to literature on Jewish education.
Despite these limitations, one can point to a number o f valu-
able books, particularly in the history of Jewish education, which
point up the creative role Jewish learning has played in the
destinies of Jewry and Judaism, and the influence it has exer­
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