Page 169 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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HESSEL/TEXTBOOKS IN JEWISH EDUCATION
1 6 1
for elementary textbooks adap ted to the example o f American
public school materials.
Th e materials used in religious education continued to be
in Hebrew and were prin ted abroad. T h e Pentateuch was stud­
ied in Hebrew but the context was often sacrificed to a p re ­
occupation with the difficulties o f the language. “The Jewish
child cannot be expected to be satisfied with the dead textbooks
o f the past,” wrote H.G. Enelow.9 The educators o f the day
posed a challenge to a community which had not recognized
the impact o f the external cu lture on the religious educational
needs o f the young.
This was a chief concern o f Dr. Samson Benderly who, in
1910, became the first d irec tor o f the Bureau o f Jewish Ed­
ucation o f New York. He was able to focus attention on the
immediate need for a new curriculum and materials. Israel
Friedlaender, a Benderly associate, noted: “A regu lar curric­
ulum is impossible without textbooks. Yet, strange as it seems,
Jewish education until very recently, was without them .”10 The
Bureau, und e r Benderly’s guidance, soon published a series o f
graded , illustrated textbooks for the study o f Hebrew and slides
and maps for Jewish history instruction. T h e materials reflected
a new approach accommodating the limited amoun t o f time
the American Jewish child devoted to formal Jewish educa­
tion .11 A graded series o f Bible stories, in English, appeared
shortly thereafter. Though playful and often childish, they
served to make a statement about the need for relevance in
Jewish education.
With the b reakup o f the inner city ghettos populated by East­
ern European Jews and the shift to suburbia, the practice o f
Jewish ritual and tradition in America became more segmented
according to ideological identification. The community shifted
Jewish practice from the home to the synagogue fu r th e r sharp ­
ening the ideologies. The congregational school developed as
par t o f this process and each denom ination established its own
9. Enelow, H.G., “The Jewish Sunday School,”
The Jewish Teacher,
vol. I, no.
I, January 1916, p. 34.
10. Friedlaender, Israel, “The Problems o f Jewish Education for Children o f
the Immigrants,” in
Jewish Education in the United States,
Lloyd P. Gartner,
ed., Teachers College Press, NY, 1969, p. 139.
11. Greenstone, Julius H., “Jewish Education in the United States,”
American
Jewish Year Book,
1914-15, p. 109.