Raising Secular Jews

Yiddish Schools and Their Periodicals for American Children, 1917-1950

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Author: Naomi Prawer Kadar
Introduction: David G. Roskies

Series: Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture and Life

This unique literary study of Yiddish children’s periodicals casts new light on secular Yiddish schools in America in the first half of the 20th century. Rejecting the traditional religious education of the Talmud Torahs and congregational schools, these Yiddish schools chose Yiddish itself as the primary conduit of Jewish identity and culture. Four Yiddish school networks emerged, which despite their political and ideological differences were all committed to propagating the Yiddish language, supporting social justice and preparing their students for participation in both Jewish and American culture. Focusing on the Yiddish children’s periodicals produced by the Labor Zionist Farband, the secular Sholem Aleichem schools, the socialist Workmen’s Circle and the Ordn schools of the Communist-aligned International Workers Order, Naomi Kadar shows how secular immigrant Jews sought to pass on their identity and values as they prepared their youth to become full-fledged Americans.

Subject: Jewish Studies

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