Claussen publishes on Eastern European Jewish moral education

Religious Studies Professor Geoffrey Claussen's new article appears in the journal Polin.

Geoffrey Claussen, Lori and Eric Sklut Scholar in Jewish Studies and associate professor of religious studies, has published an article titled “Repairing Character Traits and Repairing the Jews: The Talmud Torahs of Kelm and Grobin in the Nineteenth Century.” The article appears in a special issue of the journal Polin dedicated to Jewish Education in Eastern Europe, edited by Eliyana R. Adler and Antony Polonsky.

Claussen’s article analyzes the unique characteristics of the Talmud Torah yeshivas of Kelm (in modern-day Lithuania) and Grobin (in modern-day Latvia), institutions associated with the moral-character-focused Musar movement in the late 19th century. These institutions were the first traditionalist Jewish learning institutions in Eastern Europe to incorporate general studies alongside Jewish studies in their curricula, and they also developed unique models to help students focus on the development of moral character. 

Claussen’s article argues that these institutions had limited success in influencing Jewish society as a whole, but that they did have a significant influence on the development of traditional Jewish education in Eastern Europe.

Claussen is presently on sabbatical leave for the 2017-18 academic year, working on a new book focused on debates in modern Jewish ethics.

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