The Genesis Period of the Jewish People's School in Montreal

Type of resource
The Genesis Period of the Jewish People's School in Montreal
An examination of the early development of Montreal's Jewish People's School from its founding in 1914 to 1930. The author examines the various impact on the school during this period: the struggles between the long-settled Jewish community (uptowners) and the newly arrived East European Jewish immigrants (downtowners), especially their religious, ideological and political divergences; the differing cultural and language interests within the Jewish community; and the attitudes of the French Catholic and English Protestant communities towards each other and towards Jews during this period. The history of the school dates to 1911 when an initiative was undertaken by a group of young intellectuals, for the most part recently arrived immigrants from Eastern Europe, who were dissatisfied with the low state of Jewish education in Montreal. They sought to organize a modern and progressive educational system which would, more meaningfully and positively, link the Jewish child with his people. The founders, a large number of whom were inspired by the social and national ideals of Labour Zionism, opened a school in 1913 and sought to transmit the cultural heritage of the Jewish people through a creative and positive presentation of the age-old national-religious traditions to students; and thus to ensure Jewish survival and continuity in their new land. They named this new educational institution the "National Radical School". By 1914, a splinter group, headed by Dr. Yehuda Kaufman, Moishe Dickstein, Abraham Parnass and others had become disenchanted with some aspects of the educational program, and organized the "Yiddishe Folks Shulen", i.e. "The Jewish People's School". The new school continued to foster the progressive and modern pedagogical approaches that had been established earlier, but introduced a number of fundamental changes in program and curriculum which moved away from the "Yiddishist" tendencies of the National Radical School. The new school system believed in full equality of Hebrew and Yiddish, the strengthening of Jewish consciousness, a greater emphasis of Jewish national aspirations, Zionism as an essential cornerstone of the curriculum, greater stress on Jewish tradition, customs and ceremonies, Bible study in Hebrew, and the study of excerpts from classical literature, as vital components of Judaism in its historical development.
Master's Thesis
Concordia University
# of Pages
August, David. “The Genesis Period of the Jewish People’s School in Montreal.” Master’s Thesis, Concordia University, 1975.
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