Page 170 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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educational commission to serve its constituency and to develop
substantial textbook publication lists. T h e Union o f American
Hebrew Congregations was in the fo re fron t o f this movement.
In 1923, Emanuel Gamoran was named educational d irec tor
o f the UAHC Commission o f Jewish Education. T h e re can
hardly be a discussion o f instructional materials for Jewish ed ­
ucation without mention o f Gamoran’s contributions. During
his tenu re o f almost fou r decades, he made sweeping changes
in the role o f the textbook. Initially, he noted a serious lack
o f textbooks with few titles available for the younger students
and virtually no thing for the high schools. This led him to ask:
“Why is it that the material in the curriculum o f the Jewish
school has been relatively speaking, unchanged for gene ra­
tions?”12 He viewed these materials as unresponsive to actual
life situations and set about correcting the situation. Because
o f the minimal knowledge o f Hebrew among the young, he
arranged for Bible stories with a sound pedagogic basis to be
written in English. T h e re was a recognition that the new books
requ ired a professional approach to content as well as p resen ­
tation. A pleasing format, good paper, suitable typography for
the age-group and appealing illustrations were adop ted in the
1920s. By the next decade there was a notable shift from em ­
phasis on the past to the Jewish presence in America.
Gamoran viewed textbooks “in relationship to curriculum and
method. They are closely related to the latter and as all ed ­
ucators know, books reflect the righ t approach to the curric­
ulum and the best methods o f teaching.”13 The methods re ­
qu ired explanation from the people who p repa red the text in
cooperation with professionals who could best suggest its ap ­
plications in the educational setting. In 1927, a UAHC publi­
cations catalog stressed that textbooks are “a pa r t o f the p u r ­
poseful scheme o f systematic Jewish instruction .” Since then,
dedicated teacher handbooks have appeared regularly. An early
entry was
In the Days of the Second Temple,
with text, workbook
12. Gamoran, Emanuel,
Changing Conceptions in Jewish Education,
NY, 1925, Book 2, p. 58.
13. Gamoran, Emanuel, “Jewish Sunday School Society,”
Jewish Education,
8, no. 1, September 1937, p. 31.