Jewish Sunday Schools: Teaching Religion in Nineteenth-Century America

NYU. Aug. 2023. 272p. ISBN 9781479822270. $39. REL
Yares (religious and Jewish studies, Michigan State Univ.) traces the development of Jewish Sunday schools in the U.S. from just after the American Revolution through the early 20th century. The book emphasizes the role of Jewish women, who were initially volunteer teachers in the nascent synagogue schools of the early 1800s. Later, many were professional public-school teachers, who also served in weekend Jewish schools. The author follows the changes in function and curriculum in the schools as decisions were made (mostly by Jewish men of German background) regarding how the thousands of children—Eastern European immigrants—would learn to be Jewish Americans. These schools copied and competed with Protestant Sunday schools, which sought to build the character of Christian children and convert Jews if possible. This book demonstrates how the multiple branches of the U.S. Jewish community sought to use Jewish Sunday schools to supplement public education and to form the religion and character of American Jews.
VERDICT This title offers a window into the formation of the American Jewish community. A very well-researched book of interest to anyone who ever attended or sent their child to a Jewish Sunday school.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing