The Beth Jacob Movement in Poland
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The Beth Jacob Movement in Poland

February 17, 2013 08:38AM
The following are selections from pages 60 and 61 of Rabbi Dr. Abraham Atkin's PhD thesis The Beth Jacob Movement in Poland (1917 - 1939). It all sounds too familiar, does it not?

Note the call for children to spend the Sabbath day in school and not at home where the environment might not be conducive to proper Shabbos observance. This is something unheard of today.

The year 1934 brought with it curricular problems as well. (Rabbi Judah Leib) Orlean (See the link at [] for information about him) presented these problems, as he saw them, and offered his solutions to them, in a most interesting article.

They follow:

Problem of Practicing What is Taught:
The home environment, in many instances, is a poor one. The atmosphere is not always a religious one and in contradictory to what the children are being taught in the classroom. Children must actually "live Jewishly" in the school, for the home is lacking in this respect. All the commandments must be performed in the school. The children must spend the Sabbath day in the school, participating in the youth activities, songs, dances, lectures, and children's services. The teacher's duty is to start training the very young-- to be the student's constant companion, influencing her at all times, guiding and protecting her from straying from the right path.
Do not compromise on anything, as is the habit of most parents. Children do not understand compromise.

Problem of Proper Attire:
Parents feel that their daughters are being trained to be 'rebetzins'. They believe that their dress is too extreme. There is to be no compromise. Children must be taught when they are very young that no part of the body should be exposed. Just as the boys are taught to keep their heads covered, so must the girls learn to recognize what the proper attire for young Jewish daughters is. Although the parents have a tendency to influence the local schools by pressurizing the teachers into lowering their standards, the Beth Jacob movement cannot and will not submit to such pressures for a few dollars.

Question of Weltanschauung:
The ideal of the Beth Jacob is the acceptance of Malchus Shomayim (The Kingdom of Heaven). Children must be taught to understand who the authorities of Torah are. They must be taught the proper outlook with regard to today's problems and they must understand how to react to local irreligiosity and the problems presented by it. It is the job of the Beth Jacob teachers to establish sound ideological ideas and not to get involved in politics.
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