Compromise Settles Dispute Between Hebraists and Yiddishists in Esthonia

The war which has been raging during the past few years between the Yiddishists and Hebraists of Esthonia over the question of what the language of instruction in the Jewish Gymnasium (high school) of Esthonia should be, has finally been settled. As a result it has been finally agreed that both languages be used in the various courses of instruction.

The Jews of Esthonia, who are not much more than 3,000 in number, have what is known as cultural autonomy, that is, they are allowed to have their own school system in either Yiddish or Hebrew, with a Jewish Cultural Council to supervise this system. For years it was impossible to reconcile the warring Yiddishist and Hebraist elements. Since the majority of the first elected Jewish Cultural Council was Hebraist, it was decided that the language of instruction in the Jewish Gymnasium, which formerly taught everything in Russian, be Hebrew. The Yiddishists protested, even after the Hebraists wanted to meet them half way by stating their willingness to have some subjects taught in Yiddish.

As a result of this fight, the Yiddishists established their own Yiddish high school. The Jews of Esthonia being numerically a very small group, it was impossible for two Jewish Gymnasia to exist side by side. Then, too, this fight endangered the entire cultural autonomy which the Jews had received from the Esthonian government, since two Jewish school systems would not be recognized and supported by the government.

Last month the Jewish Cultural Council convened and after much bickering by both sides it was decided that beginning with the school year of 1931-32 both gymnasia will merge and parallel classes in Hebrew and Yiddish will be conducted. Such subjects as drawing, music, athletics, etc., will be taught in either language or in Esthonian.

And so, temporarily at least, the Jewish school autonomy in Esthonia has been saved.

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