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Jewish Education in England, 1944-1988

Between Integration and Separation

David Mendelsson

Today, the dominant model for Jewish education is the community-wide, technologically advanced day school, where the Judaic subjects are taught by professional educators using student-friendly, interactive methodologies. Not so long ago, however, most Jewish education consisted of rote repetition of prayers and biblical passages and their translation into awkward English by teachers with no formal pedagogic training, in classes – often located in synagogue basements – held on Sunday or once a week after ‘ordinary’ school.
This book explains the radical reconfiguring of Jewish education in England in historical and sociocultural terms. It explores the transformations that took place in every aspect of Jewish education: curriculum, religious/ideological orientation, school format (afternoon classes vs day schools), funding (private vs state), and more. The author shows that this dramatic transition directly reflects both changes in the socioeconomic profile and self-identity of Anglo-Jewry as well as demographic and cultural changes in British society in general. Tracking the shift from integration to separation, this book maps the effect of competing societal, personal and communal agendas, pedagogic paradigms, and pragmatic constraints on the rise of the Jewish day school in England.


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Acknowledgements vii


Acknowledgements This book is based, in part, on my doctoral dissertation, submitted to the Hebrew University in 2002. My advisers were Peter Gordon and Gideon Shimoni, and I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for their guidance. At various stages in this research project, I benefitted from the advice of David Cesarani, Tony Kushner, Michael Marmur, Helena Miller, Alex Pomson, Marlena Schmool and Marc Silverman. My research was supported by grants from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Contemporary Jewry, whose Alexander M. Dushkin Fund also provided support for the publication of this book. Additional aid for publishing the book was received from Hebrew Union College. Special thanks are due David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College, for his interest and encouragement. Among the archives I consulted were those of former Chief Rabbi Jakobovits and Ernest Frankel (former treasurer of the ZFET). I would like to thank the latter’s sons Jonathan and Raphael Frankel for granting me this access. My research took me to numerous libraries and archives in the UK and Israel. Staf f at the following institutions were particularly helpful: Central Zionist Archives; Jewish National University Library; Hebrew University’s Bloomfield Library; National Archives (Public Record Of fice), Kew, Richmond, Surrey; Hartley Library at the University of Southampton; Greater London Records Of fice; Of fice of the Chief Rabbi, London; Mocatta Library at University College, London. Thanks are also due Nessa Olshansky-Ashtar, who edited the manu- script, and worked tirelessly to tighten the narrative. I...

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