Page 122 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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JEW ISH BOOK ANNUAL
in his view, re trea ted un d e r the pressure o f “love’s” su r rend e r to
assimilationist tendencies among parents, the ir deepen ing
apathy, inertia, and downright ignorance. They also gave in to
ch ild ren ’s consequent p reference fo r the Jewishly tenuous, the
ceremonial toy, the easily discardable-at-will. They struck the ir
flag before the on rush ing wave o f keeping
down
with the Joneses.
“Conformism is the tragedy o f ou r time,” Scharfstein warned as
he moved to strike a blow for his brand o f non-conform ist “love.”5
To him, the Jewish school was to stand as a bulwark o f Jewish reli­
gious and cultural continuity and adherence born o f substantial
Jewish knowledge, carried by confident at-homeness in Hebrew,
sustained by the full engagement o f the sense o f belonging to
Israel’s millenial faith and destiny. This is why he devoted his
Gedole Hinnukh be-Ammenu
or
Great Hebrew Educators in the Last
Centuries
(lit. Education’s Great in O u r People) to such figures as
the Maharal o f Prague, R. Hayyim ofVolozhin , R. Israel Salanter,
Dr. Yitshaq Epstein, David Yellin, Samson Benderly, Sarah
Schnirer (the found er o f the Beth Jacob Schools), Yehiel
Heilperin, A.H. Friedland, Janusz Korczak. This is why in
Hinnukh we-Qiyyum
or
Education and Survival
(1957) he pleaded
for the broadening o f the Jewish school for children into the
school for the entire Jewish people. He asked that the Jewish
school provide instruction for adults and p repa re “books for
mothers and fathers, books with Jewish content; not ju s t dreidels
for Hanukkah, but Jewish paintings and a r t objects for the hom e”
(pp. 201 f.). I f the Jewish school neglects the adults and concen­
trates on children, “it cannot even achieve the limited goal o f chil­
d re n ’s education” (p. 202). For this reason he favored Jewish Day
Schools (pp. 150 ff., 179). And because o f this conviction, he
regarded the properly p repa red Hebrew teacher as “the city’s
guard ian” whose lofty name is em bedded in the cry o f the
Tahanun
prayer: “Guardian o f Israel, preserve the rem nan t o f
Israel.”6
about Their Lives and Their Work [1962]), p. 41), Scharfstein quotes David
Ben-Gurion remarking to a participant in the International Bible Contest in
Israel that photographic memory will not evoke acceptable answers to thought
questions: “‘You must strain your brain, you must fulfill the supreme task of
man — to
think.'"
5
Ibid.,
p. 122.
6 Scharfstein,
Orah Hayyim la-Moreh
(A Teacher’s Way o f Life — Observations
and Suggestions) (New York, 1959), p. 44.