This oral history consists of Daniel Harrison describing the history of the Columbus Hebrew School from 1948-1985. This is not an actual interview.
The Columbus Hebrew School was formally organized and chartered in November, 1922. It was a community school to provide a Jewish education for all the Jewish children in greater Columbus. Hebrew studies were provided by private teachers prior to the
establishment of the Hebrew School in 1922. Hebrew classes were hold at the Agudas Achim Synagogue prior to the establishment of the Hebrew School on Rich Street. The community Hebrew School was hold at 558 Rich Street until the Fall of 1947. From 1947 to 1949, Hebrew School classes were held at Fairwood School. There is – tablet at the Jewish Center giving all the names of the people who were the founders of the Hebrew School. (Abraham Goldberg, Nathan Danziger, Hirsh Kobacker, Mendel Pass, Ben Stein, Samuel Blazberg, Joseph SoloVe, Leon Seff, Jacob Yenkin, Wm. S. Cohen, Cliff Furman, and John Thall.)
The founders of the Hebrew School and many other important people in the community
rendered a tremendous service to the needs of Jewish education here in Columbus. They
worked very hard and devoted many days and many hours to enroll children in the Hebrew
School, to raise funds for the school, to attend board meetings, to decide the goals and
to solve the many problems that confronted the.. By establishing the Hebrew School on Rich
Street, the founders made a tremendous contribution to the needs of Jewish education in
When I assumed the position of principal in August, 1944, after meeting the leaders in
the community, particularly those associated with the Hebrew School, it was clear to me
that on, of the things that was required was to find a new address for the school. Most of
the students attending the Hebrew School lived in the Driving Park are.. We were looking
for a lot to build a building that would serve the needs of the Hebrew School. such a lot
was found on Livingston Avenue about a block east of Fairwood. Arrangements were made to
have necessary plans for the construction of a Hebrew School building.
At the same time that the Hebrew School was raising funds for its building, the leaders
of the community were conducting a campaign to build a Jewish Center. These leaders felt
that the Hebrew School should merge with the Jewish Center, thereby eliminating the
building of a separate building for the Hebrew School and ultimately saving operating
expenses as the needs for the Hebrew School could easily be incorporated into the plans
for the Jewish Center. After many meetings and discussions, it was finally decided that
the Columbus Hebrew School terminate it, campaign for a building fund and give up the idea
of building their own building and be included in the plans for Hebrew classes at the
Jewish Center. Ultimately, all the funds that were raised for the building were turned
over to the Center.
In September, 1949, Hebrew School classes began at the Jewish Center. From September,
1947 to September, 1949, the Hebrew School classes were held at the Fairwood Avenue School
for a period of two years. When the-Hebrew School moved into the Jewish Center, it was
much more pleasant to be there than to be in the Fairwood Avenue School. The new
surroundings were more attractive and better suited for the needs of operating a Hebrew
School. The operation of the Hebrew School at the Jewish Center Stimulated more interest,
better enrollment and a better attitude towards the school.
The enrollment was increased and we required more teachers. In the process of planning
for the Hebrew School, it was thought we would need 6 classes. Hebrew School classes were
held from 4 o’clock till almost 8 o’clock, four afternoons a week, Monday through Thursday
Children received five hours of instruction a week, each day, one hour and fifteen
minutes. We had to have busses to transport the children to the school and take them home.
That involved many other problems. As we look back, we find that those were normal
problems that all schools throughout the country were confronted with in course of time,
the Hebrew School was confronted with many changes and as a result, we had a special
committee to draw up by-laws for the Hebrew School. Elections were hold on a regular basis
and many other stipulations were included to assure a well organized operation of the
school. We had a teacher’s code of practice, that was very important to assure the teacher
of tenure in his position and increments annually, also, the teaching time a teacher
devoted to Hebrew instruction, preparation for classes, attending staff Meetings, etc.
The curriculum of the school was for a six year elementary school. It included learning
the Hebrew Language, familiarize with the prayer book, its meaning, the study of the Bible
in the original Hebrew, Jewish History and background of Jewish Holidays and teaching the
meaning and customs of the holidays whenever those holidays occurred during the year. Of
course, we had Jewish arts, current events and also the teaching of Jewish music.
In later years, we were able to encourage the graduates of the Columbus Hebrew School
elementary program of six years to continue in a Hebrew High School. The High School
program required a student to attend twice a week, each session an hour and a half, for a
period of three years. It is gratifying to rate that these student. who attended the High
School after six years in the elementary school acquired a very fine Jewish education.
Also the students who attended the six year program achieved a great deal of knowledge
during the years attended in the elementary department.
In the course of the High School program, we had at one time as high as 33 students.
Columbus was, in that sense, the envy of many surrounding communities, for having such a
fine program. Our problem was, annually, to recruit qualified professional teachers for
our school, and we were, most of the time, successful in getting dedicated and devoted
teachers in the field of Jewish education.
The Columbus Community Council, the forerunner of the Columbus Jewish Federation,
appointed the principal of the Hebrew School also as the director of the Bureau of Jewish
Education. The purpose of the Bureau of Jewish Education was to serve all the schools of
Jewish education. The idea of a Bureau of Jewish Education was popular at that time in
this country, One of the function. of the Bureau was to arrange workshops for all the
teachers in the community, not only the Hebrew School teachers but all those who were
teaching in the various Religious schools on Sunday, to schedule teacher’s conferences, to
arrange for lectures on education as well as various problems that teachers confront in
the classroom. The Bureau also undertook to stimulate the idea of the Jewish Music Month
in the Community. A number of programs were arranged annually for a period of 3 years and
the community was invited to attend. The first program was held at the Columbus Gallery of
Fine Arts and lzler Solomon, the Conductor of the Columbus Symphony, was the guest speaker
introducing the program of Jewish music. For the following two years, we had Cantor
Meisels from Cleveland render a program of Jewish music, and another distinguished cantor
from New York present a program the following year.
In the Fall of 1949, when the Bab… School moved from the Fairwood Avenue school to
the Jewish Center, the Community Council did not find -it necessary to allocate funds for
the operation of the Bureau of Jewish Education and accordingly as of 1950, the Bureau of
Jewish Education discontinued its operation.
Dr. Joshua Chorowsky succeeded me as director of the Hebrew School in September of 1974
to July 1980. Dr. David Salozer followed him from 1980 to 1985.