Jewish, Jewish, Everywhere, & not a drop to drink
Thursday, February 27, 2003

The Second World War, 1939-1945, signaled the end of a vast traditional Jewish culture located primarily in Eastern Europe. The death of six million Jews throughout Europe was a catastrophic fall for Jewry and Orthodox Judaism. The war also signalled the emergence of American Jewry as the largest single Jewish community in the world, and the rise of traditional-orthodox-Judaism on a scale never before seen amongst the six million Jews of America.

What happened? How was it all achieved? Why did it happen? What significance does this have for America's Jews in particular? What role did education have in causing this situation? How was Jewish education influenced by historical events? What kind of education was it that enabled Orthodox Judaism to find a vibrancy and flourish in America?. Who were the architects that stood at the heart of the changes? What kind of educational institutions were involved? Finally, what makes the Second World War a turning-point for Jewish education in America?

The hallmark of American Jewry had been an unprecedented alienation from its traditional roots. This too was a great fall. After the war, a new phenomenon was evident. American Jewry was confronted with the example of Nazi Germany. The once most enlightened nation in Europe transformed itself into the "angel of death". Jewry was shocked. It had suffered a severe body-blow. But it was far from dead. It had survived. Hitler, the Nazis, and the Axis Powers were defeated. Those Jews who had been spared the brutalities, joined with those who had survived, to re-assess their position in the world. The need to rise up again was urgent.

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