Herzliah Hebrew Teachers' Institute

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Hebrew educational institution in the U.S. founded in New York in 1921 by Moses *Feinstein as an afternoon high school. It was expanded into a teachers' seminary in 1923 and the high school was discontinued in 1966. Its aims were "the training of teachers in the … Hebrew Language, Bible, Religion, Art, Drama, History, Tradition and general culture." In 1967 it merged with the Jewish Teachers' Seminary and People's University.

Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, Herzliah was the chief instrument for Hebraism and Zionism in American Jewish education, with hundreds of alumni serving Jewish communities throughout North America. Its educational philosophy was based on the cultivation of Hebrew as a living language and a medium for cultural creativity and it was dedicated to national revival and the rebuilding of Israel, and a communal (non-denominational) approach to Jewish education and maximalist requirements in Hebrew schools. For a number of years Herzliah sponsored a young people's Hebrew theater (Habima Haktana). Leading exponents of Hebraism in America served on the faculty, among them Daniel *Persky, Abraham *Epstein, and A.Z. Halevi.

With the American Zionist movement confining itself to political activities, support for Herzliah diminished, although it received some assistance from the Zionist Organization of America for a short period in the 1960s. Enrollment fell sharply from its one-time peak of 500 and, with the conflict of languages between Hebrew and Yiddish in American Jewish life settled in favor of English, Herzliah merged with the Jewish Teachers' Seminary to establish a sounder basis for further operations. Hebrew and Yiddish sectors maintain separate identities in the combined school, though some Yiddish courses were added to the requirements for the Hebrew Teachers Diploma. The merger was unsuccessful as the proliferation of universities teaching Judaic studies, the Hebrew language and Yiddish, and the strength of the seminaries in the New York area made it ever more difficult to recruit students and to garner support for Herzliah, and the institution folded.

[Gershon Winer]

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Herzliah Hebrew Teachers' Institute

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