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 Infobank Judengassse Frankfurt am Main
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Education

Education has always been one of the key duties of a Jewish Community. Its main function is to provide instruction in the Hebrew language, in which prayers and religious literature are written, and the basis of the religious laws of Judaism. In Frankfurt, elementary education was provided by schoolmasters and usually only attended by children of Jews with right of residence in Frankfurt. For boys, lessons started at three with learning the Hebrew alphabet, and normally ended at thirteen years of age with the religious coming of age, celebrated at the Bar Mitzvah. Little time, if any, was given to other subjects: Hebrew and the study of holy scriptures had pride of place. Wealthy Jews employed private tutors, whilst poorer folk sent their children to communal classes.
Secondary schooling took place in the yeshiva, the Talmudic religious college. Under the supervision of a rabbi, students, including many from outside the city, deepened their knowledge of the Talmud. Before the 17th century little attention was paid in Frankfurt to educational matters, a fact which rabbi Juspa Hahn deeply regretted in his work "Josef Ometz". He devoted several chapters to the curriculum and placed particular stress on study of the Bible.
Community leaders only began to be concerned with education in the mid17th century. In 1662 they formed a special education committee to supervise teaching and determine the pay of teachers. A school inspection was carried out every Thursday. The number of community teachers was set at ten, and the number of teaching assistants at thirty. Teachers were not permitted to teach for more than eight hours a day in winter, and nine hours in summer. Fees were set. Towards the end of the 18th century, some members of the community tried in vain to establish a private school in which German, French, writing and arithmetic were taught. Some years later the ideas of the Enlightenment and Jewish emancipation brought about reforms in Jewish traditional education.








© Jüd. Museum Frankfurt 1992-2002 /  Sources