The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education

The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education

by Jonathan B. Krasner

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Samson Benderly inaugurated the first Bureau of Jewish Education in 1910 amid a hodgepodge of congregational schools, khayders, community Talmud Torahs, and private tutors. Drawing on the theories of Johann Pestalozzi, Herbert Spencer, and John Dewey, and deriving inspiration from cultural Zionism, Benderly sought to modernize Jewish education by professionalizing the field, creating an immigrant-based, progressive supplementary school model, and spreading the mantra of community responsibility for Jewish education. With philanthropist Jacob Schiff and influential laymen financing his plans, Benderly realized that his best hope for transforming the educational landscape nationwide was to train a younger generation of teachers, principals, and bureau leaders. These young men became known collectively as the “Benderly Boys,” who, from the 1920s to the 1970s, were the dominant force in Jewish education—both formal and informal—in the United States.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611682939
Publisher: Brandeis University Press
Publication date: 01/01/2012
Series: Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 512
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

JONATHAN B. KRASNER is Assistant Professor of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College, New York.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments • Introduction • Making Order out of Chaos, 1900–1939 • The Making of the Master: Benderly in Baltimore • The New York Bureau and Its Critics • A Few Good Men (and Women) • The Struggle for a Modern School System • The Organization of a Jewish Education Profession • Progress under Threat: Jewish Education and the Great Depression • Jewish Learning for Jewish Living, 1910–1945 • Education as Enculturation: Progressivism and the New York Bureau • The Jewish School Curriculum and the Limits of Progressive Reform • The Central Jewish Institute: The School Center as a Model for the Modern Talmud Torah • “An Environment of Our Own Making”: The Origins of the Jewish Culture Camp • Between K’lal Yisrael and Denominationalism, 1940–1965 • Unity in Diversity? The Jewish Education Committee • Rebuilding, Renewal, and Reconciliation in the Postwar Era • Conclusion: The Benderly Revolution • Notes • Index

What People are Saying About This

Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz

"Those of us who know the field of American Jewish education have long heard, read, and debated the Benderly revolution and its impact. But until now, the evidence on which we based our understanding was incomplete, scattered and ill understood. Krasner brings together information from diverse sources to create a rich, nuanced picture of Benderly, helping us better understand his motivations, goals, accomplishments and frustrations. Building on this, Krasner helps us understand for the first time the varied ways in which Benderly's proteges built on his ideas while extending them in unique ways that fostered their own vision of Jewish education. We get a palpable feel for the achievements of the Bureau, the struggles to professionalize the field, the uniqueness of the Central Jewish Institute, the power of Camp Modin, and the breadth of activities of the JEC. We also appreciate the specific strengths and weaknesses of Benderly's boys, Dushkin, Chipkin, Berkson, and Schoolman. At the same time, by bringing all of this together in one book, Krasner gives us a real sense for the first time of the breadth and scope of this revolution in American Jewish education."
Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz, Dean of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies and Associate Professor of Jewish History, Jewish Theological Seminary

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