Friday, April 20, 2012

Moses Mendelssohn for the kids

You don't see this every day. Here's a "Teacher's Guide To Moses Mendelssohn, Pioneer in Modern Judaism," published by the Union of American Hebrew Congregation's Commission on Jewish Education. Although I don't see a date, my guess is approximately 1960. It is a guide for a teacher to use while slides are shown on a projector. You can download it here. The original comes from here.

Many parts of it are interesting, such as this note toward the beginning addressing what to say if a student brings up the fact that Mendelssohn's children converted to Christianity:

Then there is the page which illustrates the saying that 'From Moses to Moses, none came unto Israel like Moses' (see here).

Mostly (or entirely) based on Euchel's Toldot Ha-Rambaman, the filmstrips begin at the beginning, with a portrayal of baby Mendelssohn's cradle placed next to his father teaching Torah to children:

He is shown leaving home for Berlin, where he will continue to study with his rebbi, R. David Fraenkel:

Iconic images, based on the painting of him playing chess with Lessing:

Here is seen explaining to Kaiser Friedrich why he dared write a critical review of his book of poems. They were in French, and Mendelssohn argued that it is a shame that he didn't write in German. And his wedding to Fromet Guggenheim is depicted:

Of course it would get around to his Chumash and opposition:

And a scene depicting him catching ill, which finally did him in. The reference to his letter meant to "prove Lessing's loyalty to ethical religion" refers to the posthumous outing/accusation that Lessing was a Spinozist, which which meant atheism in 1780s Berlin, and still a shocking charge.


  1. Reads just like Artscroll...

  2. E. Fink: This is for children, for heaven's sake. All books for children are like this. Ever read those 20-page book on Thomas Jefferson or George Washington?

    The problem is that ArtScroll writes its adult books in the same fashion.

  3. In that case, my apologies.

  4. the social justice thing bothers me about reform. though Torah does believe in social justice it does not define it in the same way as reform Judaism. In fact to believe in social justice as reform does it is almost a prerequisite to be ignorant of the Torah

  5. It is copyright 1958 (see bottom of page 2).



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