TRADITIONAL JEWISH EDUCATION IN THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE: CONTINUITY AND MODERNIZATION

Abstract


The article deals with the traditional Jewish education in the Russian Empire of the 19th - early 20th centuries. The author pays great attention to the key Judaic Religious Academy - yeshiva of Volozhin (Belarussia-Lithuania) as it existed from 1802 to 1914. The study is based on the contemporary sources - documents, media articles, memoirs, literary sources, archival materials and the works of foreign historians. The main aim of the article is to present this yeshiva in its social and cultural context. The author pays particular attention to the founder of yeshiva Volozhin Rabbi Hayim of Volozhin (1740-1821). The first objective of the work is to understand the reasons for the foundation of this yeshiva. In this context the author touches upon the relations with Vilna Gaon, his attitude toward the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskala), the attitude to Hasidism, secular studies etc. It is this yeshiva that was marked by a novel structure - total independence of local community. In many aspects, it was the model for other Jewish Higher Traditional institutions. The Russian historian pays considerable attention to the Imperial Government policy toward the Jewish traditional education; mutual relations between parents and students of yeshiva, the role of some rectors, teachers and form-masters of yeshiva of Volozhin. The author deals with the every-day life of the yeshivas, traditional holidays, modernization and the reaction to the challenge of the time and especially to the values of traditional Jewish culture in general. The author considers that the closure of the Volozhin yeshiva in 1892 by the tsarist authorities was formal. In fact, the yeshiva continued working. The last students perished in the Holocaust.


About the authors

Alexandre E Lokshin

Institute of Oriental studies Russian Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.
Email: ale-lokshin@yandex.ru
12/1, Rozhdestvenka, Moscow, 107031, Rossia

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