Jewish education (Hebrew: חינוך, Chinukh) is the transmission of
the tenets, principles and religious laws of Judaism. Known as "People
of the Book",
Jews value education. The emphasis and value of
education is strongly embedded in Jewish culture.
a heavy emphasis on
Torah study. Throughout Jewish history, the
Jewish education began with the Old Testament during
biblical times. The bible describes the purpose of Jewish education.
The main purpose in the bible is to know how to worship God.
Therefore, Jewish parents needed to teach their children about some
basic prayers and what the
Torah forbids at their young ages. Parents
should have transmitted Jewish morals, faith, and values to their
children. The bible’s teachings have important impact on Jewish
education. Because of this,
Jewish education is rooted in the Torah.
Nathan H. Winter wrote, “
Torah has also been described as that
dealing with the whole existence of the human being; that which
touches life at every point.
Torah also connotes learning,
instruction, and guidance.
Jewish education was concerned with the
transmission of this cultural heritage to the individual Jew.” 
2 Formal Jewish education
2.1 Sex segregation
2.2 Primary schooling
2.3 The yeshiva
2.4 Jewish schools
2.5 Girls' education
3 Informal Jewish education
3.1 Youth Groups
3.2 Summer camps
3.3 Student organizations
3.4 Drama-based education
3.5 Sports-based education
5 External links
Jewish education has been valued since the birth of Judaism. Abraham
is lauded for instructing his offspring in God's ways. One of the
basic duties of Jewish parents is to provide for the instruction of
their children as set forth in the first paragraph of the Shema
Yisrael prayer: “Take to heart these instructions with which I
charge you this day. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when
you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you
get up. Bind them as sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol
on your forehead; inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and
your gates” (Deut. 6:6-9). Additionally, children are advised to
seek the instruction of their parents: "Remember the days of old,
consider the years of many generations; ask thy father, and he will
declare unto thee, thine elders, and they will tell thee" (Deut.
Book of Proverbs
Book of Proverbs also contains many verses related to
education: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your mind
retain my commandments; For they will bestow on you length of days,
years of life and well-being“ (Prov. 3:1-2).
Elementary school learning was regarded as compulsory by Simeon ben
Shetah as early as 75 BCE and
Joshua ben Gamla in 64 CE. The education
of older boys and men in a beit midrash goes back to the Second Temple
period. The importance of education is stressed in the Talmud, which
states that children should begin school at six. The rabbis stated
that they should not be beaten with a stick or cane, that older
students should help those who were younger, and that children should
not be kept from their lessons by other duties.
According to Judah ben Tema, “At five years the age is reached for
studying Mikra, at ten for studying the Mishnah, at thirteen for
fulfilling the mitzvoth, at fifteen for studying Talmud” (Avot
5:21). Mikra refers to the written Torah,
Mishnah refers to the
Torah (the concise and precise laws dictating how
the written Torah's commandments are achieved) and
Talmud refers to
comprehension of the oral and written law's unity and contemplation of
the laws. The term "Talmud" used here is a method of study and is
not to be confused by the later compilations by the same name. In
keeping with this tradition,
Jews established their own schools or
hired private tutors for their children until the end of the 18th
century. Schools were housed in annexes or separate buildings close to
Meir Simcha of Dvinsk
Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (in his Meshech Chochma) observes that
God's statement "[
Abraham is blessed because] he will instruct his
children and his house after him to follow in God's ways to perform
righteousness and justice" (Genesis 18:19) is an implicit mitzvah to
teach Judaism.
Formal Jewish education
Sex segregation in education has traditionally been the norm. As of
2012, education in the Haredi community was strictly segregated by
sex. The education for boys was primarily focused on the study of
Jewish scriptures, such as the
Torah and Talmud, while girls obtained
studies both in
Jewish education as well as broader secular subjects.
Talmud (Tractate Bava Bathra 21a) attributes the institution of
Jewish education to the first century sage Joshua ben Gamla.
Prior to this, parents taught their children informally. Ben Gamla
instituted schools in every town and made education compulsory from
the age of 6 or 7. The
Talmud attaches great importance to the
"Tinokot shel beth Rabban" (the children [who study] at the Rabbi's
house), stating that the world continues to exist for their learning
and that even for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, classes
are not to be interrupted (Tractate
In Mishnaic and Talmudic times young men were attached to a beth din
(court of Jewish law), where they sat in three rows and progressed as
their fellow students were elevated to sit on the court.[citation
After the formal court system was abolished, yeshivot became the main
Torah study. The
Talmud itself was composed largely in the
yeshivot of Sura and
Pumbedita in Babylonia, and the leading sages of
the generation taught there. Yeshivot have remained of central
importance in the Orthodox community to this day. Until the 19th
century, young men generally studied under the local rabbi, who was
allocated funds by the Jewish community to maintain a number of
students. The Hasidic masters and the Lithuanian rabbi Chaim Volozhin
both founded centralised yeshivot.
In the 21st century, critics in both the
United States and Israel,
such as Naftuli Moster, have protested that some yeshivas are teaching
religious studies to the exclusion of secular subjects such as
mathematics and science. They are promoting the adoption of national
or state standards on secular subjects by the yeshivas.Israel's
Ministry of Education’s statistics from 2014 show that only about 22
percent of Haredi students take matriculation exams, since Orthodox
yeshivot mostly ignore core subjects. About 8 percent of Haredi
students pass the exam. Miriam Ben-Peretz, professor emeritus of
education at the
University of Haifa, and winner of the 2006 Israel
Prize notes: “More and more Israeli students don’t have any
foundation of knowledge, any basics — not in math, not in English,
not in general...things have to change."Some Israelis who have been
educated in Haredi yeshivas have established Leaving for Change (LFC),
an organization seeking to sue the government for alleged failure to
enforce Israel's law for compulsory education.
Cheder in Meron, 1912
The phenomenon of the "Jewish Day School" is of relatively common
origin. Until the 19th and 20th century, boys attended the Cheder
(literally "room," since it was in the synagogue, which historically
was a building with a Bet
Midrash being the only room) or
where they were taught by a
Melamed tinokos' (children's teacher).
The first Jewish day schools developed in Germany, largely in response
to the higher emphasis in general on secular studies. In the past, an
apprenticeship was sufficient to learn a profession, or alternatively
several years in a gymnasium could prepare one adequately for
university. Rabbis who pioneered Jewish day schools included Rabbi
Shimson Raphael Hirsch, whose Realschule in
Frankfurt am Main
Frankfurt am Main served
as a model for numerous similar institutions.
Jews have also been
disproportionately engaged in the building of academic institutions of
education and in promoting teaching as a professional career. Three of
the past four presidents of the
American Federation of Teachers
American Federation of Teachers have
been Jews: starting with Albert Shanker, her successor Sandra Feldman,
all the way to current AFT president, Randi Weingarten.
Today, there are over 750 day schools in the
United States and 205,000
students in those schools. Beyond those students, hundreds of
thousands (~250,000) of Jewish children attend supplementary
religious, Hebrew, and congregational schools.
It was also in the 19th and early 20th century, with the advent of
public education for all, that an emphasis was first placed on girls'
education. Before this, particularly in Eastern Europe, girls received
their Jewish and
Hebrew education at home, and were often illiterate
in Hebrew. In the 19th century, public education was made compulsory
in most of Europe, and in order to maintain educational control over
the Jewish children, Jewish schools became a reality. It was as a
result of the initiative of
Sarah Schenirer, that the first Jewish
Bais Yaakov school opened in
Kraków in 1918. Girls in the
United States at this time were often educated at public schools
together with boys, and they received their
Jewish education through
programs at synagogues and Sunday schools, because Jewish day schools
were less common.
In the Jewish society, women were not allowed to participate in most
synagogue prayer, and they only allowed to engage in communal prayer.
During the nineteenth century, women could only read Yiddish. Parents
should have sent their sons to the primary school, so that their sons
could have learned the
Hebrew language and the
Torah text. Some
wealthier parents even employed private tutors for their sons at home.
However, some girls in the wealth family may be given the opportunity
to learn Jewish vernacular and
Hebrew as well. Many girls remained
illiterate during the old times. Women stayed home with their family
or worked jobs such as maids and seamstresses. After the World War II
began, more and more women were used as spies, couriers, nurses, and
some even became soldiers. Until the end of World War II, women had
Jewish studies research and teaching in the
twenty-first century. The balance of women and men made great strides
in equality in Jewish schools.
Informal Jewish education
Recent[when?] studies estimate a population of 650,000 Jewish middle
and high school students.[dead link] Most of these attend Jewish youth
groups or participate in activities funded by Jewish youth
organizations Jewish youth organizations. Many of these are Zionist
youth movements. The various organizations differ in political
ideology, religious affiliation, and leadership structure, although
they all tend to be characterized by a focus on youth leadership.
The Conservative movement has USY - United
Synagogue Youth. The Modern
Orthodox movement has
NCSY - formerly National Conference of Synagogue
BBYO is a non-denominational group, though most
it with the Conservative or Reform movements. The North American
Federation of Temple Youth, known as NFTY, is the organized youth
movement of Reform
Judaism in North America. Funded and supported by
the Union for Reform Judaism, NFTY exists to supplement and support
Reform youth groups at the synagogue level. About 750 local youth
groups affiliate themselves with the organization, comprising over
8,500 youth members.
Jewish summer camps are a tool for creating ties with a particular
Judaism and/or orientation to Israel. Camps are
sponsored by the Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform
movement, by Jewish community centers, and by Zionist movements such
as Young Judaea, Habonim Dror,
Hashomer Hatzair and B'nei Akiva. Over
70,000 campers participate in over 150 non-profit Jewish summer camps,
especially in the United States. In addition, the Foundation for
Jewish Camp estimates that these camps are staffed by over 8,500
Jewish college-aged counselors. Outside the United States, similar
camps are generally organized by various philanthropic organizations
and local Jewish youth movements.
Camp Ramah network, affiliated with Conservative
camps in North America where youngsters experience traditional Shabbat
Hebrew and observe the laws of kashrut.
The Union for Reform
Judaism runs the largest Jewish camping system in
the world, the URJ Camp &
Israel Programs. They operate 13 summer
camps across North America, including a sports specialty camp, teen
leadership institute and programs for youth with special needs, as
well as a number of
Israel travel programs. Participants in these
programs observe Shabbat, engage in programming about Jewish values
and history, and partake in typical summer camp activities including
athletics, creative arts and color war.
Jewish education is organized on university campuses.
This is often supported by national organizations, such as Hillel
(United States) or the Union of Jewish Students (United Kingdom), or
by international organizations such as the World Union of Jewish
Students and the European Union of Jewish Students.
Rohr Jewish Learning Institute
Rohr Jewish Learning Institute in partnership with The Chabad on
Campus International Foundation, manages the Sinai Scholars Society,
an integrated fellowship program for college campus students
Torah study, social activities, and national networking
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June
One of the earliest examples of drama-based
Jewish education is the
theatrical works of
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto (
Ramchal 1707-1746, b.
Italy), who wrote plays with multiple characters on Jewish themes.
While the use of such plays was probably rare in traditional Jewish
education, the Etz Chaim school of
Jerusalem reportedly staged plays
in the 1930s. One such play put King David's general
Joab on trial for
his various crimes. The students and faculty played the roles of
judge, advocates and a jury, all based on extensive Biblical and
In more recent times, drama is being further developed as an
educational tool . For example, Detroit, MI has an ensemble theater
devoted to education and outreach.. Programs such as Jewish
Crossroads by Shlomo Horwitz provide educational theater in schools
and synagogues in various English-speaking countries . The
Lookstein Center at Bar Ilan, a think tank geared to Jewish educators
in the Diaspora, lists many drama-related programs on their website
for use of teachers in the classroom .
Sports is another vehicle to connect Jewish youth to
Israel. Bring It In -
Israel offers a sports volunteering program in
Israel that cultivates a cadre of young leaders who return to their
communities to promote interest in
Israel and Judaism. The perceived
role of sports as a historical avenue was crucial for Jewish people to
overcome social, religious and cultural obstacles toward their
participation in secular society (especially in Europe and the United
^ "A Jewish Fight for Public Education". Retrieved 7 October
^ "The Jewish Americans". Retrieved 7 October 2014.
^ Nathan H. Winter (January 1, 1966). Jewish Education in a Pluralist
Society: Samson Benderly and Jewish Education in the United States.
New York: New York
University Press. ISBN 978-0814704486.
^ "Genesis 18:19". Bible. For I have known him, to the end that he may
command his children and his household after him, that they may keep
the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that
the LORD may bring upon
Abraham that which He hath spoken of
Moses ben Maimon, Maimonides. Mishne Torah. Laws of
^ a b Wertheimer, Jack (2007). Recent Trends in Supplementary Jewish
Education (PDF). The AVI CHAI Foundation. p. 8.
^ Chizhik-Goldschmidt, Avital (October 22, 2013). "The ultra-Orthodox
Seamstress Who Determined the Fate of Jewish Women". Haaretz.
Retrieved March 7, 2017.
^ Ingall, Carol (2010). The Women Who Reconstructed American Jewish
University Press of New England. p. 7.
ISBN 9781584658559. They understood that Jewish day schools were
not an option, being more appropriate for the Old World and the
Jewish education in the
United States would have to be
retrofitted around public schools.
^ Miller Helena Grant D. Lisa Pomson Alex (April 25, 2011).
International Handbook of Jewish Education. New York: Springer; 2011
edition. ISBN 978-9400703537.
The World of the Jewish Youth Movement by Daniel Rose - on movements
and informal education
American Jewish University
Jewish Education Service of North America
The Coalition for the Advancement in Jewish Education
The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education
Shalom Hartman Institute
The Jewish Teacher Project
The Jewish Education Project
Types of organization
Jewish day school
Youth organizations (Zionist)
Jews and Judaism
Outline of Judaism
Index of Jewish history-related articles
Origins of Judaism
Israel and Judah
Second Temple period
Lists of Jews
Land of Israel
Who is a Jew?
Jewish Virtual Library
Relations with other Abrahamic religions
Jews and Judaism