U.S. Jewry Spends $10,000,000 Annually for Jewish Education; Says Jewish Education in Russia is Sovi
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U.S. Jewry Spends $10,000,000 Annually for Jewish Education; Says Jewish Education in Russia is Sovi

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Jewish education in Russia is Soviet education in Yiddish, declared Israel S. Chipkin, Educational Director of the Jewish Education Association, last night in discussing Jewish education in Russia, at a Hebrew session of the Fifth Annual Conference of the National Council for Jewish Education held at the Central Jewish Institute Camps here. Fifty delegates, experts in Jewish education and directors of leading Jewish educational institutions in various communities throughout the country, are in attendance.

Mr. Chipkin’s address was the feature of a series of three reports in Hebrew on Jewish educational problems in Russia and Palestine. Dr. Alexander Dushkin told of the progress that is being made in the Holy Land for the development of a Jewish laity in that country, and George M. Hyman, who recently returned from Palestine where he was Assistant Registrar of the Hebrew University, reviewed the growth of that institution.


Dr. Samson Benderly, Director of the Bureau of Jewish Education, New York City, addressed the afternoon session on “Jewish Education for Adolescents.” It was his opinion that the “center of gravity of formal Jewish education will have to be moved into the age of youth.” Up to now, he said, efforts have been made to give Jewish education to the younger generation, especially those attending public schools, most of whom, he added, discontinue this education on entering the public high schools.

American Jewry, he pointed out, is today spending approximately $10,000,000 per annum on Jewish education. This sum, he emphasized, is about one quarter of what it should be. And because of inadequate plans for providing Jewish education for the adolescent, Dr. Benderly said, Jews have not received the full value of their investment in this direction. In New York City, he said, statistics recently compiled show that 53% of the population of the local high schools are Jews, a small percentage of whom are receiving any kind of Jewish education whatsoever.


Outside of the language of instruction, the Jewish schools in Soviet Russia, Mr. Chipkin stated, are distinguished from all others in as much as they include a course in Yiddish literature and to the extent that all these schools are conducted by Jews. There is a complete system of Jewish schools in that country from nurseries and kindergarten through the University and research institutes, supported entirely through Government funds and conducted with full Government authority. For the first time in Jewish history and anywhere in the world do the Jews possess such a complete system, he said, especially such a wide range of Jewish schools under complete Government control. Mr. Chipkins’s report was based on a ten weeks study of the Jewish schools in Russia.


Mr. Hyman, in speaking of the progress that is being made by the Hebrew University during the first five years of its existence, said that it has received such marked recognition in the academic world that it has been asked to conduct a joint expedition with Harvard University and the British School of Archaeology next year to excavate Sebastieh, the site of the Biblical Samaria. The League of Nations has selected it as one of six institutions throughout the world to carry on special research in malaria. Complete Hebrew terminology has been worked out for the Arts and Sciences and all courses are given in Hebrew. The recently formed Hebrew University Press publishes two quarterlies and a number of works are in preparation including a de luxe edition of the Excavation of the Beth Alpha Synagogue.


Dr. Dushkin spoke on Jewish education in Palestine. The school situation, he pointed out, has been influenced greatly by the presence of two American Jews and one American Jewess during the past year. Dr. Judah Magnes as the head of the Hebrew University, Miss Henrietta Szold as the educational representative of the Executive, and Dr. I. B. Berkson as the educational director have helped, he said, to bring order and hope into the hitherto existing chaos and disorganization.

There is hardly a Jewish child in Palestine now who does not receive some schooling, he stated. In a total population of 160,000 Jews, over 30,000 are now attending school, he said. This proportion, he opined, compares very favorably with the United States, even though in Palestine there is no compulsory school law. The Jews of Palestine, he concluded, are assuming more and more responsibility for maintaining their own schools financially, and a program is being developed whereby both control and responsibility will be transferred from the Zionists and the Jewish Agency to the local councils and the National Council of the Jews in Palestine.

Rabbi Jacob B. Pollak, Assistant Director of Synagogue and School Extension in New York City, submitted a report on the “Teaching of History in the Sunday Schools of Greater New York.” As a basis of this report, Rabbi Pollak said, 39 schools were investigated, having a school population of 11,000 children. This figure, he said, represents 70 per cent of the total Jewish Sunday School population in Greater New York, for which there are in all 93 schools.

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