75,000 Jewish Children in the U.S. Attend Sunday Schools, Survey Shows

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

Seventy-five thousand Jewish children in America attend Sunday schools, maintained chiefly by Reform Congregations, according to a survey made by Dr. Emanuel Gamoran, Educational Director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

The attendance in these schools is about 84.5 per cent. In comparison with the regular attendance in Jewish week-day schools, this figure is encouraging, he stated. Children leave the Sunday schools in much smaller numbers than in the week-day school. In the year 1922-23, 46 schools having a registeration of 10,799 children showed an elimination of 992 children or 9.1 per cent. This is much smaller than that in the week-day school. Seventy-seven per cent of the children in the Sunday schools continue studies after Confirmation.

One of the fundamental changes to be made in the Sunday school is in the curriculum, Dr. Gamoran recommended. It should be enriched through the introduction of project courses involving activities in the early grades of the school. More attention should be given to Hebrew At present only 52 per cent of the Sunday schools that teach Hebrew require it and only 67 per cent teach it altogether. Only about 28 per cent of the total school population of the Sunday schools study Hebrew. This is surely a sad situation in a school system, one of the main objects of which is to transmit a culture embodied in the Hebrew language and literature.

In addition, more singing should be introduced into the Sunday school, songs of the kind that children sing at home. History should be taught as history and not confused with Bible and with ethics. The early grades should be devoted to a study of Jewish customs and ceremonies along project lines, singing and stories. In the same way one should not pretend that the early Bible stories told to children of tender ages constitute courses in Bible literature. These should be relegated to the higher grades.

The Department of Synagogue and School Extension in cooperation with the Commission on Jewish Education is at work on the preparation and publication of new textbooks, he stated.

In the curriculum as a whole more attention should be given to Israel and Torah as factors in the well-known Jewish trinity of God, Israel and Torah, he said.

A study of the training of our teachers showed that more than 60 per cent had no facilities for adequate Jewish training in their communities. The Jewish education and pedagogic qualifications of Sunday school teachers leave much to be desired. The fact that many congregations spend only 10 per cent of their budget for school purposes is also an indication of the insufficient attention given to the school and to the teacher. The Department of Synagogue and School Extension is publishing a series of books, monographs and syllabi for the training of teachers. A national diploma will be issued by the Commission on Jewish Education to teachers in schools throughout the country meeting certain requirements of training, Dr. Gamoran declared.

Rabbi Herman M. Cohen of Kansas City is among the four ministers who have been chosen to deliver the opening gprayers of the Republican National Convention during the four days of the proceedings there.

NEXT STORY