Page 73 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 30

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F
r a m
— L
it e r a r y
C
on tr ibut ion s
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the
U A H C
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ficance for world Jewry, and the expression of its will to
produce its own leadership, its own institutions, its own schools
of learning, and its own publications.
If American Jewry has proven itself capable of taking over
the leadership from a European Jewry decimated by the Holo­
caust, it is because of the vision and determination of the
American Jews who in 1873 founded the Union of American
Hebrew Congregations.
It was particularly in the field of youth education that the
need of a specifically American approach was paramount. The
teachers imported from Europe did not understand, and there­
fore could neither attract nor inspire the Jewish children born
to the milieu of America. Therefore, secondary only to the
school for rabbis, was the Union’s decision to publish Jewish
books for children and youth, as well as for adults.
Indeed, all three of these basic institutions of Reform Judaism
embarked upon a career of publications from the very moment
of their birth. The rabbinical organization published prayer-
books and hymnals. The faculty of the Hebrew Union College
published works of Jewish scholarship, and the Union of American
Hebrew Congregations began printing religious school materials—
textbooks, leaflets, children’s magazines.
Joint Commission on Education Formed
It was not until the year 1922, however, that Reform Judaism
made its “great leap forward” in the field of educational pub­
lications. This was the year when the Central Conference of
American Rabbis and the Union of American Hebrew Congre­
gations united to establish their Joint Commission on Jewish
Education, and engaged Dr. Emanuel Gamoran as its executive
director. Dr. Gamoran was not a rabbi, but he was a young
man steeped in Jewish scholarship. His doctoral thesis at Teach­
ers College, Columbia University, was on the subject
Changing
Concepts in Jewish Education.
It was immediately published in
book form, and has become a classic in the history of Jewish
education.
Dr. Gamoran proceeded at once to establish a complete cur­
riculum for the Jewish religious school which provided books
and equipment for classes from the nursery or pre-school age
all the way through the high school age and on to adult Jewish
education. His achievement was spectacular and epoch-making.
He searched for and discovered gifted textbook writers. He
engaged artists to illustrate the texts, and bookbinding experts