New Article: Raichel and Tadmor-Shimony, Jewish Philanthropy, Zionist Culture, and the Civilizing Mission of Hebrew Education

Raichel, Nirit and Tali Tadmor-Shimony. “Jewish Philanthropy, Zionist Culture, and the Civilizing Mission of Hebrew Education.” Modern Judaism 34.1 (2014): 60-85.

 

URL: http://mj.oxfordjournals.org/content/34/1/60.extract.html

 

Excerpt

Different concepts about the direction of Jewish society and culture in Eretz Israel converged around the issue of education in the moshavot of Ottoman Palestine. Parents in the moshavot had three educational alternatives to consider and choose from: the religious-traditional, modern French-language, and modern-Zionist options. The religious alternative was a continuation of the heder or Talmud-Torah. The other two options were an expression of the desire to create a modern Jew. The one aspired to mold a modern, observant Jew with a Western cultural orientation. The other sought to forge a modern, Jewish, Eretz-Yisraeli society conducted in Hebrew. The community philanthropy provided by Baron Rothschild and the JCA allowed the modern alternatives to set up schools that operated alongside other community institutions. The schools in Ottoman Palestine, like those in some of the countries of nineteenth-century Europe, were major, vitally important institutions in their communities. They gave the younger generation a basis for their professional futures and dealt with public–social–cultural issues that no other public system handled. A notable example of this was the problem of hygiene. The moshavah school, like its European counterparts, predated the development of social work.86 It served as a substitute for hospitals, which were not easily reached, and took care of the entire juvenile population, including and mainly those without means. This process, set in motion by the advent of compulsory education laws, gradually spread throughout Europe and America, and transformed the school into a major, accessible institution. The modern-French language schools and the modern Zionist schools were easily incorporated into the communal philanthropic model. Community life in the moshavot, as in European farming communities, made the school’s educational efforts—beyond those of teaching and expanding knowledge—easier.

[…]

From the historical perspective it may be argued that Zionist education triumphed over the ethnic solidarity of Jewish philanthropy. This success may be attributed, inter alia, to the Hebrew teachers’ ability to organize themselves and create an educational establishment that included uniform curriculum, teaching aids, and pedagogical standards. These teachers were able to take advantage of the educational philanthropy and emphasize the ideology they had in common with it while guiding the schools to develop a Hebrew culture and a modern, Jewish, Eretz-Yisraeli society.

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