(By Our Chicago Correspondent)
The controversy in the Chicago Jewish community resulting from the dispute which arose between the Jewish Charities and the Moses Montefiore Hebrew Free School, when the Charities withdrew financial support from the Hebrew School upon the latter’s failure to comply with the request to revise its teaching method, is still agitating the Jewish public. Replying to the charges made by the Hebrew School that the Jewish Charities is seeking to impose upon it a Reform program, Dr. Alexander Dushkin, executive director of the education committee of the Jewish Charities, today issued a statement, authorized by the directors, stating his side of the case. Pointing out that of fourteen members constituting the Jewish Education Committee, nine are affiliated with Orthodox and Conservative congregations. Dr. Dushkin contends that no antagonism was ever displayed by his Committee to the teaching of the Talmud.
“The policy of the Committee,” he writes, “is now, as it has always been, not to dictate to the affiliated schools regarding the subjects taught or the methods used. Representing the community as a whole, the Education Committee has no one curriculum, nor one set of methods, that is insists upon Each school, or group of schools, is quite autonomous in all matters regarding the subject matter, the methods, and the spirit of Jewish instruction. The Jewish Education Committee realized for a long time the importance of establishing uniform curricula in schools of the same type, so that children moving from one section of the city to another might not be confronted with entirely new conditions, and so that there might be some definite basis for supervising and importing the work of the schools. It was recognized that any curriculum, to be effective, would have to be worked out and accepted by the official representatives of the schools themselves.
“On February 18, 1925, a letter was sent to all the presidents of the Talmud Torahs and Hebrew schools requesting them “to send two official representatives of their schools to discuss the matter of establishing uniform courses of study and standards, so that the schools of the same type should be doing similar work in a similar way, to the evident advantage of the children of the community.” The Moses Montefiore Talmud Torahs, in response, sent four representatives of their own selection this meeting, two for each of their branch schools.
“The Cuuriculum Conference, called together in this manner, on February 23, 1925, decided unanimously upon the need of establishing uniform curricula, and turned over the matter of details of the work to the principles of the various schools, together with Rabbi J. Greenberg, representing the Talmud Torah directors, and Dr. A. M. Dushkin, representing the Committee.
“Two sets of uniform curricula were worked out-one for the Talmud Torahs and another for the Hebrew schools. It took nine months of hard work and unlimited discussion on each detail to finally agree upon these curricula.
“As a result of the curriculum thus adopted without a dissenting vote, no child was to be taught more than two hours a day in the elementary schools, and teaching of Talmud was to be left to the Yeshivah and the Central Hebrew High School. The question of Talmud teaching in the elementary schools was debated at great length by the principals, and their final opinion was that, important as Talmud is as a subject of study, it can be better taught in the secondary schools (High Schools and Yeshivah), when the children are older and more equipped for this study. The decision to postpone the teaching of Talmud in the elementary schools until the children are old enough to benefit from such instruction, is the decision of the Talmud Torah principals and representatives themselves, and not of the Education Committee.
“When the new season commenced in the Spring of 1926, it was found that the Moses Montefiore Talmud Torahs failed to keep to the curriculum which their own representatives adopted, particularly regarding the two points mentioned above. Again and again the Education Committee urged the Talmud Torah representatives to adhere to their agreement, at least Until such time as changes in the curriculum might be made by the representatives of all schools involved. But on this, as on numerous other occasions, the gentlemen representing the Talmud Torahs, for reasons best known to themselves, refused to take their agreement seriously. After considerable discussion and negotiation, the Education Committee finally decided that it must insist upon the sanctity of such agreements, even to the point of withdrawing community support.”
The alumni of the Pressburger Chassam Sopher Yeshiva have launched a drive to raise funds for a dormitory for the Yeshiva. An appeal has been issued to all rabbis, especially to those coming from Old Hungary, urging them to hold memorial services on October 3 for the late Rabbi Sopher, and to assist in raising funds for the dormitory.
Rabbi Benjamin Guth of the Chassam Sopher Congregation in New York is honorary treasurer of the committee of fifty which includes Samuel Retthein. Dr. Samuel Buchler, Rabi A. R. Goldberger, Rabbi Grumwold of Colummbers and Rabbi Keller of Passaic. N. J.
The Ansbe Emech congregation of Youngs, ### will arose a new synagogue in the spring of 1927, it was announced at the annual meeting of the congregation.
Misses Frekel was elected president of the congregation.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.