Jewish Religious Education, Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schonfeld, London 1943.

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It is not my place to write a biography of Dr. Solomon Schonfeld, as so much has been written about him.  Suffice it to say that he was born in London in 1912, the son of Rabbi Victor Schonfeld, that he was instrumental in rescuing Jews from Nazi repression before the Second World War and bringing them to England, and again in helping the remnants of European religious Jewry after the war.  Many key Rabbis from central Europe were helped to come to London at the last minute by Solomon Schonfeld.  He became the Rabbi of the Adath Yisroel community in North London in 1933, at a very young age.  He was the presiding rabbi of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations.  He was the son-in-law of the Chief Rabbi, Dr. Joseph Hertz.  But he was first and foremost an educationalist.

On re-reading this book, it is evident that it is a masterpiece – at least in my opinion.  Published in 1943, at the height of the war, it exudes optimism and enthusiasm.  Rabbi Schonfeld wrote a guide and handbook, complete with syllabuses, for teachers and parents.  Some of it is almost written in “telegram style” – as if he could not write down his ideas as fast as they were coming.  He makes the case for having Jewish schools, with Jewish content even in secular subjects.

And at the end he throws out a challenge.  Anglo-Jewry needs fifty Jewish Day Schools…  British Jewry! What are you going to do about it? You have resources for elaborate houses, private and communal, for tombstones, furs, diamonds and pleasure. What about the well-being of your children and the future of your people?

Here is a selection. I have included his chapters on “Judaism and the Sporting Spirit”, which was also included in Sefer Hayeled, a gift book for Jewish refugee children, and other excerpts:

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