New book: Passionate Pioneers: The Story of Yiddish Secular Education in North America, 1910-1960

This is a new book by Fradle Pomerantz Freidenreich. From the publisher's website:

"A little-known chapter in the history of Jewish education in North America involves a wide network of Yiddish schools and camps that sought to transmit a distinctive, authentic sense of secular yiddishkayt. Over a fifty-year period at the beginning of the last century, about 1000 Yiddish cultural schools were established in the United States and Canada, along with at least 39 summer camps, sponsored by a range of organizations. Together these schools and camps comprised a vibrant, multi-faceted educational movement with lasting significance, often overlooked by historians.

The founders of these institutions, Eastern Europe immigrants who sought continuity with the richness of their past, formulated new models for education. True visionaries, they were pioneering in their efforts – and often considered radical at the time –emphasizing Yiddish language and literature, Jewish values, folklore and traditions, in various interpretations, ideology and politics. They were full of passion, seeking to touch the hearts as well as minds of students, creating meaningful experiences that would teach both values and facts. Most of the teachers were trained in Eastern Europe, and quite a few were also Yiddish poets, cultural critics and artists.

Passionate Pioneers: The Story of Yiddish Secular Education in North America, 1910 – 1960 is the first comprehensive documented narrative of this movement. Through extensive research, Fradle Pomerantz Freidenreich reveals the far-reaching contributions of these institutions. She consulted many archives in the United States and Canada, and tracked down the stories of students, professionals and laypeople involved. She looked at communities, educators, textbooks and songs – all of which Jonathan Sarna describes in the foreword as educational archaeology."

See a PDF version of the Table of Contents here.

The materials upon which the book is based are housed at the American Jewish Archives, see this entry for more information.

See also this page on the YIVO website.