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The Real Meaning of our Work?

Jewish Youth Clubs in the UK, 1880–1939

Anne Holdorph

Youth clubs like the Boys’ Brigade became a trend in the UK in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Jewish community in the UK began their own clubs to educate and entertain young Jews. These clubs mirrored the examples begun within the Christian community and adapted their models of social control by providing purposeful recreation, religious education and sporting activities to cultivate young minds and bodies. Much primary source material exists on these clubs, including publicity material provided by the clubs themselves as well as oral history accounts given by former members. This book looks at the records left behind by the Jewish clubs and asks to what extent they were successful in providing Jewish education to Jewish youth and how this education was defined by gender. The author ultimately argues that some religious elements were evident in these clubs and that where they were included, inclusive British identities were promoted.

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Chapter 4: Jewish Scout and Guide Groups, 1907–1939

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CHAPTER 4

Jewish Scout and Guide Groups, 1907–1939

In 1907, Mafeking veteran Robert Baden-Powell ran a camp on Brownsea Island with a small group of boys from London. A year later, drawing on his experience from the camp and in the army, he published a series of articles called ‘Scouting for Boys’, which provided various ‘how-to’ guides for boys to develop themselves into useful citizens. Before the series had been fully published, Scouting became immensely popular amongst boys, with troops forming all over the country and abroad. By 1909, The Scout Association had been officially formed. Individual troops were created across the country, often attached to existing youth groups (such as the Boys’ Brigade) or to places of worship. A number of Jewish Troops emerged, attached to synagogues and various youth clubs.1

Shortly after the publication of Scouting for Boys, girls started to join troops in order to take part in traditionally adventurous and thus ‘masculine’ activities. At a gathering of Scouts in 1909, Baden-Powell decided that there was enough female interest in Scouting for an exclusively female organization to be created. This group was called the Girl Guides and was officially started in 1910. Both organizations were similar: Guides and Scouts worked towards badges, worked in patrols and focused on outdoors activities. There were, however, subtle and not so subtle differences. For the girls, badges focused on housework and first aid skills, and for boys, heroic acts and military...

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