Module Content

Introduction

Introduction

Kheyder (meaning “room” in Hebrew) was the first educational setting for Jewish boys (and sometimes girls) in the shtetlekh (small towns) and cities of Eastern Europe. Often around one wooden table in the house of the melamed (teacher), a small class would spend its days learning the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and lessons from the Torah, beginning at the tender age of three. Chief educational techniques were rote memorization and recitation. The kheyder experience, which represented a child’s formal entrance into the Jewish world and its ancient teachings, was a formative one, and features prominently, though not always positively, in Yiddish literary works. Through this resource kit, students will learn about (and even experience) some of the unique customs of the kheyder, the centrality of education in Jewish culture, and the atmosphere of shtetl life.

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