Chautauqua Discusses Need of Sunday Schools By Our Houston Correspondent
“We need Sunday schools because we have no religion at home,” Rabbi Maurice Faber of Tyler told delegates gathered for the fifth annual assembly of the Southwestern branch of the Jewish Chautauqua society at the Rice Hotel here.
Approximately 300 people attended the opening session of which about 150 were delegates from other sections of the Southwest. The session was devoted to the discussion of “Is our religious school too much and not enough religious?” Miss Tillie Pomerantz of Houston led the discussion.
“Education in the present time means the orderly development of the individual’s entire personality,” Miss Pomerantz said. “We are interested in the harmonious growth of the child mentally, physically, spiritually and morally. We can not disregard the nature and the needs of the child’s religious training.
“With the separation of church and state in the United States came the absolute distinction between secular and religious training. That religious training is necessary for a well-rounded personality is now a known fact. It is recognized by all leading educationalists in the country.
“The school aim is to inspire the child with the spirit of Judaism and Jewishness,” Miss Pomerantz continued. “We want to teach our children the history of our people, to make them feel proud of the race to which they belong, and to instil in them a love and reverence for the Jewish faith.”
Rabbi Walter G. Peiser of Beaumont objected to a statement of Miss Pomerantz that the “ultimate goal of the religious school is to look to moral education.” Character and morality is learned in every day life, he said. Three hours a week, which is the number of hours Sunday school is conducted at Beaumont, is only about one-fortieth of the child’s life. He learns more about character in the public schools and in the home. “It is up to the parents to teach character and morality, and parents are all too willing to shift the burden to the public schools and the Sunday school. The aim of the school is to teach Jewishness,” Dr. Peiser continued. “We are to teach Jewish history, not to inculcate morality but Jewish history. The same is true of Hebrew. It is taught as a language.
Dr. Peiser advocated classes for the underprivileged child where the school was large enough and where there is no cooperation in the home. The child is going to be good or bad irrespective of the Sunday school, Dr. Peiser declared.
Rabbi Maurice Faber in taking up the discussion said that the child should be made to feel his responsibility to his ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A high sense of morality is the whole purpose of the study of the history of the Jews. The whole goal of religion is to lead a saintly and good life, he added.
Rabbi Faber told the delegates that in his day there were no Sunday schools, for the children were taught in the home. “We lived Jewishness,” he stated.
It was agreed that the children should be taught the Ten Commandments and why they were Jews.
Rabbi Faber, Rabbi H. A. Merfeld of Fort Worth, president of the Southwest branch of the Jewish Chautauqua Society; Miss Jeanette Miriam Goldberg, executive secretary, of Philadelphia; Mrs, Arline Rosenberg of Dallas, secretary; and Rabbi Wolfe Machte of Waca, treasurer, presented reports and addressed the delegates.
Rabbi David Fichman, New Orleans, La., and Rabbi Abram I. Schechter of Houston, led the discussion on “How to Teach Miracles.” Miss Alice Block of Galveston discussed “to what extent may public school methods and schedules of teaching be applied in religious schools.” Rabbi Mendel Silber of New Orleans led the discussion of “The future generation of Israel.”
“The aim of Jewish education in America” was the subject of a paper by Dr. Emanuel Gamoran. “Judaism on the air” was presented by Mrs. Jonas Rosenfeld of Dallas. Rabbi David Lefkowitz of Dallas led the general discussion.
Rabbi E. W. Leipziger of New Orleans spoke on “How to import the social service spirit to the Jewish child.”
Rabbi Ira E. Sanders of Little Rock, Rabbi A. B. Rhine of Hot Springs, Rabbi Jacob I. Meyer of Austin and Rabbi A. S. Wiesel of Shreveport, also addressed the delegates.
Rabbi Henry Merfeld of Fort Worth, was re-elected as president of the Southwestern branch of the Jewish Chautauqua society at the closing session.
San Antonio was selected as the meeting place for the assembly in 1929.
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.