Schoolmasters were teachers responsible for the elementary education of children, principally boys, either as private tutors or in public schools.
Schoolmasters are mentioned in records from the 14th century onwards.
Although public schools appear in the 16th century, wealthy Jews continued to have their children taught by private tutors.
Childrens' education commenced at the age of three years with the Hebrew alphabet, and generally ended for boys at thirteen years with the bar mitzvah, a comingofage.
Learning Hebrew was particularly important, since prayers, the Bible, and religious literature were all written in Hebrew.
Worship in the synagogue was also conducted in Hebrew.
Translations into yiddish were available for girls and women at an early stage.
Less value was placed upon their education.
From the mid17th century the community council shed an education committee to supervise lessons, determine salaries and inspect schools every Thursday.
The number of teachers was set at ten, and the number of teaching assistants at thirty.
Schoolmasters were not permitted to give more than eight hours of instruction a day in winter, and not more than nine hours a day in summer.
There were fixed fees.
Schoolmasters were extremely poor, and often their income was so low that they had to take other jobs.
The 1694 visitation list refers to a schoolmaster who "served beer" and to another who sold Hebrew books as a side line.
Teachers were also totally dependent on parents paying fees on time.