יום חמישי כ"ג בחשון תש"פ 21/11/2019
Search
  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

    Read More...

בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

    Read More...

Place

  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

    Read More...

Join Our Mailing List!

Please add a Valid Email Address
Join
Thanks!

In I got It!

Danger in the Schools

When was the traditional ‘Cheder’ (boys' school) termed by the religious public: ‘A Cheder Mesukan’; and how did this expression evolve?

N. Lieberman 11/10/2009 12:03

A century ago, almost one thousand new schools open up in Eastern Europe which were named by the religious sector: ‘Cheder Mesukan’ - Dangerous Schools.
שוקי לרר

This term evolved from the Ashkenazik pronunciation of the name ‘Cheder Metukan’ – Reformed school, which was in fact the true name of these schools. In the western European dialect, the letter ‘Taf’ in Hebrew is often pronounced as a ‘Samech’, effectively replacing the ‘t’ sound with ‘s’. Thus it was, that the schools which were opened up by the Zionists and called ‘Reformed Schools’, came to be known by the religious as ‘Dangerous Schools’ – and justifiably so.

The first ‘Cheder Metukan’ was established in 5659 (1897), and within four years almost a thousand such schools had opened up throughout the continent. By the year 5663 (1903), 934 ‘Talmud Torah’ schools and Chadarim were established in countless locations, including Odessa, Benderi, Mariopol, and others. The ‘Reformed schools’ were an indirect outcome of the Haskalah movement (Enlightenment). The founders of the Reformed Schools, members of the Russian-Zionist movement, claimed that these schools would counter the efforts of the Haskalah, who wished to close the religious schools entirely and turn them into public state schools, where only secular studies would be taught.

The Russian Zionists postulated that with the founding of these ‘Reformed Schools’, the Torah institutions would be saved from oblivion. In addition, they reasoned that many ‘enlightened’ parents who did not want to send their children to the regular Talmud Torah’s because they were too old-fashioned and outdated, would prefer to send to these Reformed Schools as opposed to state schools and thus their children would be saved from losing their heritage altogether. The double edged goal of these new schools was: a fight against the Haskalah on the one hand; whilst leaning towards ‘Russifying’ the Jewish children, on the other.

In the Reformed Schools the children were taught Jewish subjects, but in an ‘abridged’ version. The students learnt from a condensed version of the Chumash, and this became the standard practice in all secular schools from then on. The purpose of this was to transform the Tanach from a living book teaching Halachos relevant to daily life, to a lifeless history book and text-book discussing subjects pertaining to the ‘homeland’. The students were in effect being taught only the ‘relevant’ details of the Torah. These institutions were later the basis for the Hebrew Language Revolution – the language war which originated from the Technion in Haifa in 5673 (1913), in Eretz Yisrael.

The Zionists were considerably proud of their achievement, as evidenced in the extensive writings of Chaim Nachman Bialik, a renowned writer at the time: ‘The Reformed Schools did not come to cancel out the traditional Chadarim, which are our only national school and at this time there is no substitute for them. However [the new schools] offer an improved version of the traditional Cheder… in order that a new generation of faithful Jews will arise (!)…”  etc.

The bleak results that actually materialized of the warped methods of education in these new institutions, proved how far wrong Bialik was in his opinions concerning the quality of the education they offered. Not many ‘faithful Jews’ were produced from these institutions.

Eventually, the Soviet authorities realized that these ‘Reformed Schools’ were a ripe breeding ground for a political national movement, and put a stop to their activities until the entire movement was disbanded. In this respect the Soviets were all too correct, since the top priority in these schools was not the study of Torah but rather the indoctrination of Zionist ideals into the unsuspecting children.

In the ‘Chadarim Mesukanim’ - ‘dangerous schools’, classes were conducted in a mixed setting – meaning that girls too, learnt in these Chadarim. From there, the path to spiritual deterioration was short indeed.