Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
Education, to Israelites, in the Hebrew language, now is purely secondary and only taught for the purpose of enabling them to participate in the various religious ceremonies which are given in Hebrew. Modern American reforms, introduced in synagogue worship, do away with the exclusiveness of the Hebrew and sermons or lectures are now commonly preached in the English and German languages. Some reformers insist that all the services should be conducted in English, or German, so that all the congregation should understand; for it is true that the percentage of Hebrews attending synagogue, and employing the Hebraic understandingly, is very small. In other words, it is evident that the Hebrew language is fast losing its importance among the Jews, it being no longer necessary to employ it hermetically, although the orthodox Israelites cling with great pertinacity to the old habits and customs, and refuse to be separated from the ancient landmarks. It is but a question of time, however, with orthodox Judaism – it must give way to the reformatory spirit of the age.
The Talmud is no longer taught in Jewish schools as an exclusive study. It is referred to and interwoven with other school exercises, but is not a specialty. The Israelites do not, as heretofore, compel their children to an exclusive study of Hebrew, and of Hebrew law, at the age of five and six years; but they impart to them a general knowledge of Hebrew, so that they may read it fluently, even if they understand it but imperfectly, to the end that when they become Bar-mitzvah, or thirteen years of age (the Oriental age of manhood, when parental authority is considered to cease), they may read their portion of the Torah, or the law of Moses, in the synagogue, as the first witness and exhibit of their entry into the mystic rite of manhood.
Of course history has proven all too well that such a scant Jewish education in no way equips Jewish youth to deal with an open American society that has tempted and still tempts them to blend in, assimilate, and hence relinquish their Jewish heritage. Given this, is it at all surprising that in the nineteenth century America became known as “di treifene medina”?
[i] See “A Haven for Jews in New York (Part I),” The Jewish Press, February 3, 2006 (and “A Haven For Jews in New York (Part II): The Founding Of Ararat,” The Jewish Press, March 3, 2006 (for a sketch of Mordechai Manuel Noah’s life.
[ii] Judge Jacob J. Noah, New York Times obituary, October 15, 1897.
Dr. Yitzchok Levine served as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey before retiring in 2008. He now teaches as an adjunct at Stevens. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at email@example.com.
About the Author: Dr. Yitzchok Levine served as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey before retiring in 2008. He now teaches as an adjunct at Stevens. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a chavrusa working with you, guiding and helping you in your work environment?
Last month’s column outlined some efforts during the first half of the nineteenth century to establish Jewish agricultural colonies in America. In only one case was a colony actually established.
There were very few Jewish farmers in Europe during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Indeed, in many parts of Europe Jews were forbidden to own land. Despite this there were some Jews who always felt they should return to the agrarian way of life their forefathers had pursued in ancient times, and that America was an ideal place to establish Jewish agricultural colonies.
The President having signed the Treaty of the Geneva Conference and the Senate having, on the 16th instant, ratified the President’s actions, the American Association of the Red Cross, organized under provisions of said treaty, purposes to send its agents at once among the sufferers by the recent floods, with a view to the ameliorating of their condition so far as can be done by human aid and the means at hand will permit. Contributions are urgently solicited.
Last month’s column sketched the myriad of social programs in which the Orthodox American communal worker and leader Adolphus S. Solomons (1826-1910) was involved. Adolphus married Rachel Seixas Phillips (1828-1881), a descendant of colonial patriot families and together they had eight daughters and a son.
There are many observant Jews who contributed much to secular and Jewish life in America and yet have, unfortunately, been essentially forgotten. One such man is Adolphus Simson Solomons (1826-1910).
Cholera was officially recognized to be of epidemic proportions in New York City on June 26, 1832. The epidemic was at its peak in July and 3,515 out of a population of about 250,000 died. (The equivalent death toll in today’s city of eight million would exceed 100,000.) Sadly, in 1832 there were no effective treatments available for those who contracted this disease.
As this is our third column on the Reverend Dr. Henry Pereira Mendes, we’ll begin with a summary of his life.
In last month’s column we traced the early career of Reverend Dr. Henry (Chaim) Pereira Mendes and described his extraordinary service to Congregation Shearith Israel in New York where he served as hazan (chazzan) and minister from 1877 to 1923 and then as minister emeritus from 1924 until his passing in 1937.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/jewish-education-in-america-circa-1870/2011/11/30/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online:
No related posts.