Jewish Daily Life in Germany, 1618-1945

By Marion A. Kaplan | Go to book overview

3
Childhood and Education

Traditionally, raising and educating children was one of the most important components of Jewish family life. How did children and education fare in these times caught between the winds of traditional, preindustrial society and the onset of early capitalism. Jewish tradition places tremendous emphasis on the value of education. According to curricula, boys first learned to read Hebrew and then continued to study Torah, rabbinical commentaries, Mishnah, and halachah, or Jewish law. The most advanced students would proceed to Talmud with commentaries. Education for girls was less well defined, but in some German communities girls also studied in schools, focusing on biblical and rabbinic texts that had been recast into Yiddish. Traditional literature prescribes how children should be encouraged to study with love and how adults, especially males, should devote part of their daily routine to study as well. According to these directives, parents should lovingly escort young boys to the open arms of the devoted tutor; both the days and years of study were long; and parents of newly married couples gladly supported the grooms so that they could continue their studies without economic concerns.1

But the reality was quite different. Children often did not like to attend classes, many teachers did not like to teach, and some were not particularly knowledgeable. Parents often sought to remove adolescent boys from school and send them into the workplace, while communities insisted on boys remaining in school, fearing the extra economic competition. At times, smaller communities whose members lacked the necessary funds even refused to hire a teacher or at least hotly debated the issue.

Expanding the educational framework in German lands to accompany the growing Jewish settlement did not come easily. Neither demographics nor economics lent themselves to the cause. In most areas, establishment of educa

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Jewish Daily Life in Germany, 1618-1945
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Jewish Daily Life in Germany, 1618-1945 iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • English Glossary ix
  • Title Page 1
  • Introduction: Marion A. Kaplan 3
  • Part I: On the Threshold of Modernity 9
  • 1: The Environment of Jewish Life 11
  • 2: Family Life 24
  • 3: Childhood and Education 41
  • 4: Economic Life 54
  • 5: Religious and Communal Life 70
  • 6: Social Relations 84
  • Part II: The Beginning of Integration 93
  • 7: Jewish Residential Patterns 95
  • 8: Family Life 107
  • 9: Education 118
  • 10: Economic Life 130
  • 11: Religious Practice and Mentality 144
  • 12: German Jews and Their German Jews and Their 159
  • Part III: As Germans and as Jews in Imperial Germany 173
  • 13: Surroundings 175
  • 14: Family 182
  • 15: Education 201
  • 16: Work 215
  • 17: Religious Practices, Mentalities,And Community 235
  • 18: Social Life 252
  • Part IV: From Everyday Life to a State of Emergency 271
  • 19: Housing and Housekeeping 273
  • 20: Family Life 283
  • 21: Education and Vocational Training 291
  • 22: Career and Employment 306
  • 23: Religious Practice in the Synagogue and at Home 323
  • 24: Leisure Time and Social Life 333
  • 25: Constricting and Extinguishing Jewish Life 346
  • Conclusion 375
  • Notes 387
  • Bibliography 477
  • Index 507
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