Benderly, Samson

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BENDERLY, SAMSON (1876–1944), U.S. educator. Benderly, who was born in Safed, Palestine, emigrated to Baltimore in 1898. He received a medical degree at Johns Hopkins University. During his internship Benderly became interested in modern Jewish education in Baltimore and abandoned his medical career. In 1910 he was appointed director of the first Bureau of Jewish Education in the United States, in New York. This agency outlasted its parent body, the kehillah of New York City, and was molded by Benderly's lifework. Benderly conceived of a comprehensive educational program to raise the level of Jewish life in America. He was the American organizer of Ivrit be-Ivrit pedagogy – the use of Hebrew as the language of instruction. He initiated pilot schools that developed curricula and experimented with new ideas. He organized school board representatives, formed principals' and teachers' study groups, and initiated a leadership-training program to make Jewish education a profession. Benderly also pioneered in the education of Jewish girls, and in adolescent and secondary Jewish schooling. He experimented with Jewish educational camping, initiated home-study projects for the preschool child, and designed extension programs for the unschooled. His bureau structure was the prototype for similar agencies throughout America, and the personnel he trained became foremost leaders of Jewish education in America.


N.H. Winter, Jewish Education in the Pluralist Society (1966), incl. bibl.

[Nathan H. Winter]